Moerane composed Matlala while he was teaching in Lesotho and it was an immediate hit in that country, seen as one of his most ‘traditional’ songs, and indeed, it speaks to the tradition of appeasing the ancestors by offering them ‘choice cuts of meat’ at a feast. This ‘choice cut for the ancestors’ is what the word ‘matlala’ really means. On a metaphorical level the song is about the ancestors seeking atonement, or even more generally, the way in which deeds come back to haunt you. It is immensely powerful and rhetorical, with varied tempi and textures greatly enhanced by a prolonged Alto divisi at one point. A performance sung at a South African Police Choir competition in South Africa in 2017, available on Youtube, gives an idea of the kinds of voices and performance situations Moerane imagined. This choir comes from the Eastern Cape in the south-east of South Africa, which was where Moerane was born. The words are in Sesotho, which was Moerane’s home language and is the home language of many Eastern Capers who live close to the Lesotho border. In order to help choirs learn this song, a free mp3 of the lyrics spoken by Mpho Ndebele is downloadable when the song is purchased along with a rehearsal mp3 of the song at a slow tempo.
The image on the right shows the first page of the score.