Mohapeloa described Linoto to David Coplan in an interview in 1978 as “a song about a factory where [they] made army trucks and bombs” which he “was given special permission to observe and write about”. Mohapeloa “was attracted to a machine which had a peculiar musical sound and rhythm [and] based a song on that sound [which became] very popular & used for competitions”. The Africans who worked in the factory “had invited him to come there and compose something about that industrial environment”, Mohapeloa told Coplan, and he wrote the music first, then the words, modelling the song “after an English school song, ‘The Anvil’ [with its] idiophonic machine sounds and rhythm”. This might have been Brahms’ Der Schmidt (The Blacksmith) or the ‘anvil’ chorus from Verdi’s Il Trovatore. Mohapeloa's music playfully exploits the word 'linoto', which can mean hammer or musical note.