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Basotho Oral Poetry

At the Beginning of the Twenty-first Century
By William Moruti Tšiu

This book contains a major research into, and deep investigation of Sesotho language oral poetry in Lesotho at the beginning of the twenty-first century. The classical form, the dithoko, which was inspired by tribal wars or battles fought by the Basotho, is explored fully, but absence of wars, urbanisation with the economic and social imperatives of modernism, have inspired new forms of poetry. The new forms include dithoko, i.e. ‘praise poetry’; the deifela, ‘mine workers’ chants’ and the diboko, the latter which as ‘family odes’ are still performed in rural areas.
The research work involved the live performances of 33 diroki, i.e. poets, watched and recorded in their natural environments. The investigators were led by Professor Abiola Irele, then of Ohio State University.
A copy of the stored DVD of the live performances of 33 poets is inserted into this book.
Dr William Moruti Tšiu, now teaching at the University of South Africa, has benefited profusely from collaboration of investigators from Ohio State University and others in the University of South Africa and the National University of Lesotho in bringing the work to life.

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