Mohapeloa wrote Obe in the 1930s, publishing it in Morija in 1939 as the thirty-first of 32 songs in Meloli le Lithallere tsa Afrika ka J.P. Mohapeloa: Buka ea Bobeli [African Songs and Extemporary Harmonizations by J.P. Mohapeloa: Book II]. Mohapeloa continued numbering songs in Meloli II - his second songbook - from where his previous book, Meloli I ended; thus Obe is song No. 63 in Meloli II, not No. 31. Modelled on a folksong and in a wonderfully mock-serious style, it is almost the longest song in Meloli II (No. 64, Coronation March is the longest). With its high tessitura (perhaps in part to represent the frightened child) and wide leaps, this virtuoso piece is a challenge for any choir, let alone the kind of school choir for whom it was originally composed; and it has been a popular competition song in southern Africa since the 1930s.
Newell High Choir, New Brighton, conducted by Henry Tyaliti