Teboho Mochaoa looks every bit the traditional Lesotho sheepherder, wrapped in a blanket to ward off the mountain kingdom’s cold and swinging an ornate walking stick while he sings in the local Sesotho language.
But since establishing himself in 2015, singer and rapper Teboho Mochaoa has gone beyond his home country’s folk “famo” music – with its trademark accordion and single drum – to produce an eclectic sound mixing electronic dance music, dub reggae and rap.
That has enabled him to captivate audiences outside his native Lesotho, including in venues in Paris, Oslo, and Cape Town. He has just been signed to record an extended play record by a South African label.
“Performing on world stages, playing big festivals in France, in London, and other places – it’s really interesting to see that whole … concoction materialising,” said Mochaoa.
His stage character, Morena Leraba, is an enigmatic shepherd meant to serve, he said, as a representation of Mochaoa’s village roots growing up herding sheep in Lesotho.
The character often narrates traditional stories, but his use of thumping, syncopated dance beats and electro sounds, and his coarse rapping voice, give them a cosmopolitan edge.
“That’s what we’re longing for,” concert goer Joel Makata said in Maseru. “What Morena Leraba does is plug in to the space where Basotho culture sort of meets … a more modern sound.”