Satane A Tšeha (Le Joe-leputsoa)(The Devil Laughed (Johannesburg))
K.E. Ntsane’s poem was written during the era of apartheid in South Africa and is about the menace and danger involved for people from Lesotho when they crossed the Mohokare/Caledon River, the border between Lesotho (an independent country, not subject to apartheid laws) and South Africa. He calls South African border guards ‘laughing devils’ because they joke about the language of Africans from Lesotho (Sesotho) who are heading for ‘Le Joe-leputsoa’ (Johannesburg). They had to cross the border, however, to seek work, since Lesotho was then (and remains now) such a desperately poor country. Its economy is almost entirely dependent on South Africa, and on international aid. Despite the ominous text, however, Moerane sets Ntsane’s poem to music in a cheerful and ‘entertaining’ vein, with a few sombre moments along the way.
Satane A Tšeha audio sample (piano) Audio