Motjoli, Nong Kholo

(Pied Wagtail, Big Bird)


Dual notation (staff & tonic solfa), Staff notation
choir SATB
Joshua Pulumo Mohapeloa Critical Edition

Mohapeloa composed ‘Motjoli, Nong Kholo’ in the early 1930s, publishing it in 1935 as song No. 28 in his first collection of 32 songs, Meloli le Lithallere tsa Afrika. Motjoli is the third of three consecutive ‘bird’ songs, 26, 27, 28 and one of several songs he wrote about birds and animals. This arose partly because of his enforced idleness in 1929-30 recovering from TB, when he spent a lot of time sitting on the porch of his family’s house in Mohalinyane, observing nature. Like ‘Sephōkō’ (JPM 027) ‘Motjoli’ refers to the Lesotho national instrument, the lesiba. The phrase ‘nong-kholo’ in the title means a tune played on the lesiba, but together with ‘motjoli’ becomes the Sesotho name for the African Pied Wagtail. This is a small bird, not often seen in flocks, hence the song. The music is in a celebratory, almost rhetorical style, sometimes breaking off in mid-phrase.