The workers who migrate from Lesotho to the mines and cities of neighbouring South Africa have developed a rich genre of sung oral poetry - "word music" - that focuses on the experiences of migrant life. This music provides a culturally reflexive and consciously artistic account of what it is to be a migrant or part of a migrant's life. It reveals the relationship between these Basotho workers and the local and South African powers that be, the "cannibals" who live off the workers' labour. Coplan discusses every aspect of the Basotho musical literature, taking into account historical conditions, political dynamics and social forces, as well as the styles, artistry and occasions of performance. Complete with transcriptions of full male and female performances, this book develops a theoretical and methodological framework crucial to anyone seeking to understand the relationship between orality and literacy in the context of performance.
David B. Coplan is associate professor of social anthropology at the University of Cape Town. He is the author of In Township Tonight: South Africa's Black City Music and Theatre.
Acknowledgments Preface Orthographic Note Ch. 1: "Hyenas Do Not Sleep Together": The Interpretation of Basotho Migrants' Auriture Ch. 2: "The Mouth of a Commoner Is Not Listened To": Power, Performance, and History Ch. 3: "Greetings, Child of God!": Generations of Travelers and Their Songs Ch. 4: "An Initiation Secret Is Not Told at Home": The Making of a Country Traveler Ch. 5: "These Mine Compounds, I Have Long Worked Them": Auriture and Migrants' Labors Ch. 6: "I'd Rather Die in the Whiteman's Land": The Traveling Women of Eloquence Ch. 7: "My Heart Fights with My Understanding": Bar Women's Auriture and Basotho Popular Culture Ch. 8: "Eloquence Is Not Stuck on Like a Feather": Sesotho Aural Composition and Aesthetics Ch. 9: "Laughter Is Greater than Death": Migrants' Songs and the Meaning of Sesotho Appendix One Appendix Two References Index Notes