Mohapeloa Critical Edition, Volume II revised 2016

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Volume 2 of the Mohapeloa Critical Edition comprises Mohapeloa’s songbook Meloli le Lithallere tsa Afrika II: Buka ea Bobeli (African Songs and Extemporary Harmonizations, Book 2), originally published in 1939 in Morija, Lesotho. The 32 songs were written in tonic solfa notation and are transcribed here into staff notation with commentaries. Mohapeloa’s translations are used where they exist, but the main translation work has been done for this Critical Edition by Mantoa Motinyane-Smouse and Mpho Ndebele. This volume was revised and corrected in 2016.

The appearance of Meloli le Lithallere tsa Afrika II only four years after the first Meloli (1935), attests both to the popularity of Mohapeloa's work and to the ease with which the he was able to assemble another 32 songs for publication. Like the songs in Meloli I, most of those in Meloli II had already been ‘tried and tested’ by choirs and were thus fairly well known; and Morija Sesuto Book Depot was again the publisher. They brought out a second edition in 1945, which was even before the second edition of Meloli I (1953), and third and fourth editions of Meloli II followed in 1955 and 1980. Even after Mohapeloa’s death in 1982, a fifth edition was printed (1996). These are effectively reprints rather than new editions, almost identical to the first edition albeit with occasional variants or typos. The preparation of the present Critical Edition takes all these versions into account, as well as other documentation. Meloli II begins with song no. 33 and ends with no. 64. (In this new Edition songs are not numbered.) The last song in Volume II is unusual in having an English text, while all the others are in Sesotho. During the preparation of Meloli II for publication Mohapeloa may have been living for at least part of the time in Johannesburg, where he attended part-time music classes at the University of the Witwatersrand (1939 to 1942). The year 1939 also marked the outbreak of World War II, a war into which Basotho were drawn because of their allegiance to the British Empire (Basutoland was still a Protectorate in 1939). Many topical issues weave their way into Mohapeloa’s song texts, and his developing musical style in this Volume shows how he incorporated newly acquired skills and musical influences from the Reef. He formed his own choir during his time, the Johannesburg Traditional Choristers, which was very likely to have had some of the songs from Meloli II in its repertoire.