Morena Tlake was almost certainly written in the 1960s and tells a very simple, stark tale of crows asking ‘king vulture’ to come and open up a dead carcass whose skin is too tough so that everyone can devour the meat. Possibly based on an older song, it is also perhaps a political allegory for the violence suffered by people in Lesotho and South Africa during the 60s, not only by their respective regimes but also by warring factions within their countries. The song is one of few by Moerane scored for SAATB with Soprano and Bass also dividing as well from time to time, which gives the work a dense contrapuntal texture. It is dramatic in style, using rhetorical flourishes, long sustained notes, rapid repeated motifs, vocal hocketing, and a text in which the words ‘morena tlake’ are uttered countless times. Unusually for Moerane but in the spirit of defiance that the song seems to express, he quotes from the music of the African anthem, Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika, at the end of the piece. 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 audio sample below was generated from the Sibelius file of the score and the image on the right shows the first page of the score.