Lost links & Re-ups

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Slinging tuneage like some fried or otherwise soused short-order cook

07 June 2013


The small landlocked nation of Lesotho is so poor that at one point in the 80s, there was only one television set in the entire country. It was located in a bar. People would stand in line, waiting their turn to watch the set for ten minutes each. There has always been plenty of room for music, however, & every bus had a window seat reserved for the traveling accordion players.

Because of the poverty in Lesotho, very few musicians could afford to give up their day jobs to go on tour. Most had to be satisfied with getting paid from occasional recording sessions & release royalties. The shebeens provided an actual living wage to many itinerant accordion players.

In Lesotho, shebeens were an alternative to pubs & bars. Under apartheid, black Africans could not enter a pub or bar reserved for whites. Originally, shebeens were operated illegally, selling homebrewed sorghum beer, palm wine, & home-distilled alcohol. They provided patrons with a place to meet, to discuss political & social issues. Often, patrons & owners were arrested by the police, though the shebeens were usually quickly reopened because of their importance in unifying the community, providing a safe place for discussion. Shebeens also provided music & dancing, allowing patrons to express themselves culturally.

Currently, shebeens are legal & have become an integral part of urban culture. They serve a function similar to juke joints for African Americans in the rural south. They represent a sense of community, identity, and belonging.

Good female singers are well respected & eagerly sought after, being in limited supply. Shebeen owners in Maseru stage paid competitions to find the very best. Puseletso Seema has been the champion for many years. She still is #1.

Puseletso was born in Seteketekeng (Place of [drunken] Staggering), a raucous section of Johannesburg’s Western Area. In the early 1960s, Puseletso & her mother were moved by the apartheid authorities to Orlando East, Soweto. At age twelve, she moved to her grandmother’s in northern Lesotho. The area was unsafe & within a year she was kidnapped into forced marriage (chobeliso) & gave birth to her first child. She escaped her in-laws, but her ‘husband’ tracked her down & impregnated her so that by age fifteen she had two children to care for. She once again escaped, this time to hide out in a shebeen, learning singing & serving drinks. She left her two infants with her mother & set out on her own to pursue a career as singer in Free State & Transvaal.

In 1976 she returned to Lesotho, which although completely surrounded by South Africa, had gained their independence in 1966. Globe Style's had a series called Accordions that Shook the World & recorded this LP by Puseletso Seema & Tau ea Linare. Puseletso Seema & the group Tau ea Linare normally work separately but got together in the studio for this LP, a most worthwhile collaboration.

This is Afro-highlife with an extra helping of dance groove. Fast bass lines, droning accordion chords, consistent chanting choruses, punchy drums that verge on straight funk. Adding to its contemporary pop sensibilities are the punched up bottom & the fast BPM  from118 up to 155.

He O Oe Oe ! ( Hey o way way ! ). Originally released by Global Style in 1981, re-released in 1985. Long out of print.

 Puseletso Seema &Tau ea Linare – He O Oe Oe!, Global Style ORB 003, 1985. 
decryption code in comments

Side 1
1 He o oe oe !
2 Leshano
3 Vatse halenone
4 Ha motsoane
5 Mathabo

Side 2
6 Tsetala Linare
7 Thaba tsepe
8 Katla ka sotleha
9 Bajoetse saki
10 Kesetse mahlomolenu



  1. He o Oe Oe!

  2. Here's another one...Tau Ea Lesotho's - Nyatsi Tloha Pela'ka

    1. As always, sir, thank you so much.
      I'll be grabbin' this as soon as I finish here.

  3. I aklso thank you for your contribution