MORENA LERABA

Over the past six years, Morena Leraba has emerged as the flagbearer of a remodelled. Lesotho sound through a brace of collaborations, live performances and singles. Now, in 2020, Leraba is poised to take that sound to an even wider global audience, with a full-length solo record in the works that will provide a showcase for his singular sound.

As heard on songs like “Mpuli”, and “Impepho”, Leraba’s music mixes homegrown, traditional Famo-inspired vocals with electronic music, dub and echoes of hip hop, to create a psychedelic and entrancing sound that is still evolving.

Writing in 2017, journalist Kwanele Sosibo said Leraba “has the air of a musical nomad in search of a new identity but with the vaults of history to mine from”. Those vaults of history include Famo – a sub-genre of traditional Sesotho music based on the accordion and originating from Lesothoʼs long-standing encounter with South Africa’s migrant labour System.

Until now, much of the mystique surrounding Leraba stems from his roots in Lesotho, a mountainous country that is enclaved within South Africa. Like most of his countrymen, he spent much of his youth working as a shepherd (in the village of Ha Nchela), taking inspiration from the solitude that tending animals brings.

“If you’re from Lesotho, being a shepherd is a common thing,” he says.

“Growing up I was a shepherd, but I also went to school and then university.” Still, the experience remains pivotal. Being alone in the mountains you create your own stories every day, and I developed an awesome communication with nature and animals.”

 

For Leraba, retaining deeply-sunk roots in Lesotho is more than sentimentality: it’s the stuff of his creative life. “These are memories of old and here lies our strange truths – stories from our grandmothers, of underworld waters, villages and other-worldly beings – and you have seen this before (arcane ways of our people). Our futurism – old riddles have become new.”

 

Leraba is currently working with a live band that includes Thamsanqa Ngwenya (marimba and vocals)m Bronwen Clacherty (percussions and vocals), Molaoa Resholofetse Mosola (drums), Molefi Makananise (bass), Lebogang Edgar Dichabe (guitar) and Steven Hogg (synthesizers). As he moves into a bigger creative plane and prepares to record his debut record, this remarkable artist is driven by a need to reflect, in music, “… our other-worldly journeys—our spiritual transcendence”.