Remember a band called Uhuru from a few years back? Maybe you saw one of their concerts in Saulsville or Kwa-Thema? If you did see them play, you surely must remember them. They weren’t around for long – but they were a great band. They were really hot.
They were doing so well. Everybody was talking about them. And then boom – they were gone. They were sent home to Lesotho. Why? Nobody really knows.
And so Uhuru packed their bags and went home. Nobody heard from them for a very long time. But that’s how it goes in the music business. Bands come. And bands go.
Then just a few months back, we heard people talking about this new band in Lesotho – a band called “Sankomota”. And we also heard about their record. “These guys are really switched on,” somebody said. “They sing in English, Sotho, Zulu, Tswana and Swahili. These guys are talking to everybody.”
So when we went to Lesotho we went to find this new band. We found Frank first. Frank “Moki” Leepa – the same guy who played for Uhuru. He looks as good as ever. He was wearing a white sweater with white matching shoes. The man has lots of style. He has not lost it.
Learn and Teach: It’s good to see you Frank. But first, why the name Sankomota?
Frank Leepa. Sankomota was the name of a person who fought in the wars when Shaka and Moshweshwe were still around. He was a really brave warrior. My friend’s grandmother told us about him. She always tells these amazing stories. We liked the name and so we took it.
Learn and Teach: What really happened back In 1978? Why did you guys leave so suddenly?
Frank Leepa. That was bad news. We played to full houses everywhere. Then one day we drove to play at a concert in Sharpeville. On the way the police stopped our Kombi. They told us to go to the police station with them. They told us to stop playing at concerts in South Africa. And they told us to catch the next plane home.
Learn and Teach: Do you know why this happened?
Frank Leepa. They didn’t give us any reasons. Maybe they didn’t like the name Uhuru. Or maybe they didn’t like our song “Africa shall unite”. Maybe they didn’t like both.
Learn and Teach: What happened then?
Frank Leepa. We came back to Lesotho and starved. We had no money to get a lawyer to help us get back to South Africa. We had no money because of all the equipment we bought. When we got back Tsepo Tsola left the band. But Moss Nkofo and I stuck together. Moss is our drummer. And then our old friend Moruti Selate joined us. He plays the bass guitar. We have played all over Lesotho since then. But Lesotho is too small. We play to the same faces all the time. It’s no good. People will get tired of us. We just hope our record does well in South Africa.
Learn and Teach: Please tell us about this record?
Frank Leepa. We made the record in October last year. The record is just called “Sankomota”, Some friends from Johannesburg came to help us. They have a company called Shifty Records. They came to us because we can’t go to them. They brought a special caravan with the equipment to make the record. They brought the caravan because there is no place to make a record in Lesotho. Now the record is finished and we must just wait and see. It is our last chance.
We just hope people like the record in South Africa. And we hope that our new name will give us a new chance. We pray the people in South Africa will say; “Hey man, let these guys come back. Let’s give them another chance.” If we don’t get another chance we’ll just have to break up – and that will be that.
THE NEXT DAY
We met the other guys in the band the next day. And we heard them play.
They played at the Mafateng Hotel – two hours away from Maseru. It was a long drive but it was worth it.
The band played under a tree in the hotel garden. A lot of people were there. They were dancing, drinking, eating and just having a great time. When the band played “House on Fire” the crowd really went crazy.
Then this guy with a beer in his hand danced up to us. And with a very happy voice he asked us: “Hey, what do you think of my most favourite band in the whole world? Aren’t they just the best?”
The man was a bit drunk but he knew what he was talking about. We agreed with him He was right.
We turned our heads. Far away in the distance we saw the sun dropping behind the mountains. And we suddenly felt quite sad. On the other side of the mountains was South Africa. Maybe the people on the other side could hear the music? We hoped they could. Then they would rush out and buy the record. And they too would pray for South Africa to open it’s doors to Frank and the guys again.