Thin light blue plumes of Rothmans smoke curled through the air. The smoke twirled up skywards as if a shaman was summoning a spirit; a muse. The band leader leaned against the outside of the mobile, caravan studio and; with the Rothmans cigarette tightly pressed between his lips, he pulled again. A long and contemplative moment later, he killed the stump on the hard Lesotho ground, a libation of sorts. He surrendered to his muse that he had accordingly summoned. Frank Mahlomola “Moki” Leepa had the music – all of it – but he needed something to hang it on, to give it character – and Maseru did just that. Maseru – especially at night – was a coveting mistress, a heartthrob for days and an unquenchable partner.

This almost-insignificant musical moment for a young band leader would have massive effect on his personal life, his band’s music and history of Lesotho. What seemed to be such an insignificant moment in history, became a spark for musical and political “black swan” effects in the land of Moshoeshoe. Such a tiny musical moment in a nation’s plebeian life, transformed into a “dragon king” that redirected the nation’s fate. And it is fitting that such momentous disruption and glory belongs to Sankomota – a real ‘dragon king’ in the collective musical and political history of the continent.

Perhaps outside of Fela’s Egypt 80, very few music bands have managed to influence their countries in the manner and to the extent that Sankomota did. Their emergence, explosive musical repertoire and long-lasting musical effect could neither be predicted nor expected. The effect of their music on the conscience of mortals and politicians alike, can still be felt even today.


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