African Composers Edition

Online publisher of African compositions


Manganese is a chemical element mined in open mines and widely used in the making of metal alloys and batteries. Mining was extremely dangerous work because of the inhalation that miners were exposed to. Mohapeloa described the piece in 1978 to David Coplan, during an interview, as a “song about men who go to manganese mines and never come back, die there” (David Coplan, Interview with Mohapeloa, 1978) The mine Mohapeloa heard about was in Johannesburg, he told Coplan, and he learnt about it from the workers who mined there. His song became famous on the Reef, sung by what were called ‘concert parties’ in their Saturday evening entertainment programmes. It was sung, he said, by “workers ad hoc groups”; and “the Manhattan Bros. recorded it” (Ibid.). The Manhattan Brothers were the most famous vocal jazz group in South Africa in the 1940s.



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