African Composers Edition

Online publisher of African compositions

Thoko ea maAfrika (Praise song for Africans)

In 1939, Basotoland (present-day Lesotho) was still a British Protectorate, and its subjects regarded the monarch crowned in 1937, George VI, as ‘their’ king. In Thoko ea Maafrika Mohapeloa equates him with a Paramount Chief, because of the Basotho’s system of chiefdoms; Basotho had, and still have, their own royal family, which today is headed by King Letsie III. But in the 1930s there was still a patriotic turn to Britain. In Thoko ea Maafrika this is reflected in the lyrics more than in the music, which has sudden changes and high uses of register that draw on African traditional music. The song is written from the perspective of Africans who are proud to acknowledge and embrace their overseas leader and make him ‘African’ by endowing him with the same attributes they would a local monarch, such as the roaring of the lion (a royal totem animal). He is ‘our king’ who lives overseas and can affect the affairs of Basutoland, perhaps healing discord because of the power he holds.


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