U Ea Kae?

(Where Are You Headed?)


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

U Ea Kae? is a farmer’s song, the second section of which is based directly on a traditional Sotho threshing song. Mohapeloa composed the first section to fit in with it, imagining people in Lesotho on their way to help another farmer thresh corn and hailing each other as they walked. It was first published in 1935 and is one of Mohapeloa’s most well-known songs within the African choral community of southern Africa. The voices are not specified, and so it can be sung by SATB or TTBB. This work, originally composed in tonic solfa notation only, is presented here in two versions: one in staff notation only and one in dual staff-solfa notation.

The setting for the song is Taung, a district in the middle of Lesotho and home to Mohapeloa’s own clan, the BaTaung, whose totem animal is ‘tau’ (lion). This large Sotho clan embraces smaller clans such as the Moletsanes (also mentioned in the song) and the Mohapeloas. In order to highlight the folk element, Mohapeloa wrote a melody that is pentatonic throughout. The accompanying harmonies, however, are influenced by his studies of Western music theory.

The audio sample on this page is from the beginning of Track 21 of African Composers Edition’s 2014 CD African Choral Legacy: Historic Recordings of Joshua Pulumo Mohapeloa. The full track can be purchased here and the whole CD here. The choir recorded by the SABC in 1981 is Madikana High Students (conductor not specified), digitized in 1997 on SABC CDT633, Trk. 6 and used with permission.

The related products on this page are three of Mohapeloa’s other scores from the 1930s about rural life in Lesotho. The audio samples accompanying these are either from the above CD or exported from the Sibelius score.


Studio Recording
Ionian Male Voice Choir conducted by Khabi Mngoma
African Choral Legacy - Historic Recordings of J.P. Mohapeloa Track 10
African Composers Edition