Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Nephew of Michael Mosoeu Moerane (1909-1981) Adds Details for Composer's Page at

[TOP: Memorial Plaque: "Fifth Pan African Conference was held here 15-21 October 1945 Decisions Taken At This Conference Led To Liberation of African Territories" BOTTOM: South African Music; Fatse la heso (My Country) (11:18); National Symphony Orchestra of the South African Broadcasting Corporation; Peter Marchbank, Conductor; Marco Polo 8.223709 (1994)]

Izak Khomo is Programmes Producer at Channel Africa in Auckland Park, South Africa. He provides a correction and additional information for the page on his late Uncle Michael Mosoeu Moerane (1909-1981), a South African composer, pianist and choral director. Moerane was a member of the Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO). SAMRO's Biographical Notes on him explain that Michael Mosoeu Moerane was born in 1909 and is the late uncle of South Africa's former President, Mr. Thabo Mbeki. Izak Khomo is the nephew of Michael Mosoeu Moerane. He tells

Michael Mosoeu Moerane was the second child and second son of Jakane Moerane and wife Sofi Moerane and he was born in the village of Mangoloaneng, in Mount Fletcher, District Eastern Cape. His elder brother Daniel Moerane was also born there, however, their father came from Lesotho, and he came to Mangoloaneng to put up a school at the request of the Sotho chief of the area, the school cum church is still standing in front of the home stead.”

Izak Khomo explains that his late mother, born Renee Moerane, was the youngest of the seven children of the family:

“My Late Mother, Renee Sake Khomo, nee’ Moerane was the last born of a family of seven children who included ex President Thabo Mbeki’s mother. Renee being the youngest, born in July 1920, was almost brought up by Michael that was when he was teaching at Lovedale and was at the same time undertaking his musical studies.”

SAMRO lists the schools Moerane attended and those at which he later taught:

“He had his schooling at the Lovedale Institute and at Fort Hare, near the town of Alice in Ciskei, and then became a school-teacher, beginning at his alma mater, Lovedale in 1927, continuing at the High School in Maseru in Lesotho, and later at the Umfundisweni Institute in Pondoland, and finally at the Peka High School in Gumtree, Lesotho.”

While teaching in several different communities, Moerane attended the University of South Africa by taking correspondence courses in Music, SAMRO relates:

“Moerane holds the distinction of being the first black person to obtain a degree in music at a South African university. For the Bachelor of Music degree at the University of South Africa (UNISA), one of the largest distance-education institutions in the world, he studied History of Music, Harmony and Counterpopint, Acoustics, Score-Reading, Orchestration and Instrumentation, as well as Composition proper.”

Moerane was also tutored in Composition by Friedrich Hartmann, a Professor of Music at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa, according to the Biographical Notes. SAMRO explains how Moerane came to compose Fatse la heso (My Country):

“Moerane was required to present a composition exercise in order to complete his degree, and so composed the symphonic poem, Fatse la heso (My Country), which he completed in 1941, graduating that same year. Three years later, in November 1944, the work was premiered by the BBC Symphony Orchestra in two separate studio performances under the baton of Clifford Curzon, one broadcast by the BBC's Home Service, and the other by its African Service. Fatse la heso was subsequently championed in New York and Paris by the pioneering black American conductor, Dean Dixon.”

Izak Khomo calls attention to the use of Fatse la heso at the Fifth Pan African Conference, in Manchester, England from 15-21 October, 1945:

“There is a lot about the Song Fatse La Heso, the song was played at the opening of the Manchester Pan African Conference organized by the Great Pan Africanist leader W E B Du Bois, and for that Du Bois requested permission which was granted by Mosoeu.”

We learn from Izak Khomo that Michael Mosoeu Moerane supported the Pan Africanist movement:

“Mosoeu himself was a strong Pan Africanist and so the statement ‘Fatse La Heso’ (Our Land) which was also the Clarion call of Pan Africanists in South Africa, this came from witnessing the gradual destruction of their father’s property and wealth by settler colonial laws which saw loss of farm land, the culling of the large heads of cattle and also flock of sheep under the pretext of land conservation.”

The Bantu Education Act of 1953 gave the South African Government control of education of Black children throughout the nation. Most mission schools closed rather than operate under the new and highly unequal conditions set for the Bantu schools, such as limiting instruction to three hours per day, and preparing students to hold only menial employment. Izak Khomo says Michael Mosoeu Moerane's opposition to Bantu Education resulted in his being banned from teaching, thus causing him to end his career in Lesotho:

“Mosoeu finished his teaching career in Lesotho not of his liking but rather, like many teachers of the time, as a result of being banned to teach as a result of their opposition to the introduction of Bantu Education.”

Moerane's composition Fatse la heso (My Country) (11:18) has been recorded on the CD South African Music, Marco Polo 8.223709 (1994). The National Symphony Orchestra of the South African Broadcasting Corporation is led by Peter Marchbank, Conductor. Moerane prefaced his score with an explanation of the source materials he incorporated into the work, as we learn from the liner notes by Alison Gaylard:

“According to the composer, in a note prefaced to the score, My Country is based on thematic material derived from freely-adapted African songs: a warrior's song, a reaper's song, a free transformation of a cradle-song and a hymn which supplies the harmonic structure.”

SAMRO tells us that some of Moerane's songs were selected for use in national choral competitions among schools. The Notes tell us he did not limit his professional career to composing:

“Moerane was also active as a pianist and choir conductor. He died in 1981.

Among Moerane's other compositions are three works for school orchestra, some descriptive piano pieces and a quantity of choral music on biblical texts.”

When the Johannesburg Philharmonic celebrated its 5th Birthday with twin concerts on May 18 & 19, 2005, the announcement was entitled: "Jo’burg Philharmonic performs music by the man who taught Mbeki to play the flute". It explained that South Africa's future President Thabo Mbeki lived with his uncle's family for two years when he was a young child in the early 1950s, and his uncle taught him to play the flute. The music of Moerane on the program was Fatse la heso (My Country).

Alexander Johnson and Chris Walton of the University of Pretoria in South Africa have compiled a list of the works of Michael Mosoeu Moerane:
Fatsa la heso, symphonic poem, 1941

Chorale, for school orchestra (flute, clarinet, piano and strings)

Sunrise, for school orchestra (flute, clarinet, piano and strings)

Why worry?, for school orchestra (flute, clarinet and strings)

Piano solo works listed are:


In Hout Bay

Joy ride


Choral works (all SATB) include these and many more titles:


Banozolo: ke tla bina

Barali ba Jerusalema

Ba tsabang molimo: yizani nive

Bokang Jesu

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