CityLife Arts

Tribute to a music colossal and philosopher, the Village Pope Tsepo Tshola

By Edward Tsumele, CITYLIFE/ARTS Editor

The man people have come to fondly call The Village Pope, Tsepo Tshola has died.

Tshola, it is understood died on Thursday, July 15, 2021 at a Lesotho hospital where he was admitted  after contracting Covid-19.  Tshola loomed large on the Afro jazz/gospel music genre in Southern Africa for over 50 years.  Tshola seemed to move seamlessly from Afro jazz, Afro pop and gospel seamlessly, without alienating many of his followers. Many of his followers in these different music genres seem to have accepted the reality that the Village Pope was many things to many people, and therefore allowed him to be.

Tshola was one artist who could sing a gospel tune one moment and immediately move into Afro Jazz,  and as the fans get hooked, move again immediately into Afro  pop, all in one concert without losing his fans. It takes a genius to do that.

Many of his fans who had an opportunity to be with him off stage will remember another talent of his that he shared generously with many of us who were privileged to be close to him off stage – and that is that not only was he a motivational speaker and good story teller, but he was also a street philosopher  who never shied away from sharing his philosophical musings with many who cared to listen.

A well travelled many he also loved his food as well as sharing his experiences of traveling around the world.  I remember one dinner he, a friend of mine and I, had at a Chinese restaurant in Rosebank  21 years ago. Tshola tried and failed dismally to school my friend and I on how to use Chinese chop sticks to eat. But he succeeded in couching us how best to travel overseas, especially London as  my friend and I were planning our first ever travel to Europe, a tour that subsequently took us through Amsterdam, London and Paris. We used some of the tips he had given us at that dinner on that cold June evening, to navigate some situations on that tour as well as visit some places of interest that he had told us about, especially in London.

I later returned that favour when my friends and I organized what we believed was a lekker birthday party  for him in 2003 on the rooftop of the then Kippies building. He told us it was cool, but in hindsight I think it was politeness as he probably deserved a better birthday celebration than the louse one my friends and I organized for him. We were also celebrating his efforts to clean up as he had sent himself to rehab for drug addiction. The truth is with limited resources, we knew that we could not organize a more deserving birthday for him, but we were just happy that he let us do it anyway as we enjoyed his philosophizing.

Tshola in recent years had relocated from South Africa to his native Lesotho, but from time to time, he would pop  in South Africa to perform at concerts, the last one I attended was at the South African State Theatre in Pretoria in 2015.  I enjoyed his performance there.

With his death, southern Africa has lost a musical colossal who touched many fans with his talent and today stands out as most probably Lesotho’s foremost musical  export  to the southern African region and the world..

Tshola had thousands of fans in South Africa and across the SADC region, and like many others, must have been touched by the tragic events that have been happening since Sunday in South Africa, where property, infrastructure and wanton looting has been taking place as he faced his demise. There is no way Tshola could have liked the image of the country he had made his second home over the years, first as a member of Sankomota and later as a solo artist. He came from a musical family as both his parents were musicians who met at a concert.

Former  SAMRO Foundation Chief Executive Officer and now cultural industry independent consultant  Andre Le Roux in clear reference to the mayhem the country has just witnessed, thought of  the  powerful  lyrics of  Sankomota’s iconic song Stop the War,  that he shared yesterday on social media   after hearing the death of the musician.

“Maybe as a Tribute the \to the Village Pope, Tsepo Tshola we can claim … his Sankomota Song … STOP THE WAR AS A THEME SONG THIS WEEK,,” wrote Le Roux.

Stop The War

Sankomota Lyrics

This world needs love to keep peace alive, he-e-ey

So let love begin

Then peace will reign, yes

This world needs love to keep peace

So let love be king

Then peace will reign

I cannot draw a line

To any man that rules

I can only plead

For the life of men

The generosity of God

Is unchallengable

He gave us life

So let us live

Sing along

Stop the war

We got to stop the war right now (Hey, hey)

Hey, hey we got to (Stop the war)

Let’s stop the war (Hey, hey)

Ain’t no turning back

We stop the war (Stop the war)

Right now (Hey, hey)

Yes

Stop the war (Hey, hey)

Stop the war (Hey, hey)

Stop the war (Hey, hey)

Stop the war (Hey, hey)

We got to (Stop the war)

Let’s stop the war (Hey, hey)

Right now we have to this war (Stop the war)

Yeah, yeah

Hey, hey we got to (Stop the war)

Let’s stop the war (Hey, hey)

Ain’t no turning back

We stop the war (Stop the war)

Right now (Hey, hey)

To the head of states (Stop the war)

Diplomatic cause (Stop the war)

Pope and the deacons (Stop the war)

Presiding elders (Stop the war)

Hey we got to stop the war (Stop the war)

Stop the war (Stop the war)

Ain’t no turning back (Stop the war)

We gotta stop the war (Stop the war)

Stop the war yeah (Stop the war)

Political leaders (Stop the war)

The list is endless (Stop the war)

All we got to do is stop this war (Stop the war)

Stop the war (stop the war)

Lets go ahead and stop the war (stop the war)

Stop the war (stop the war)

Ain’t no turning back (stop the war)

We gotta stop the war (stop the war)

Stop the war now (stop the war)

Hey, hey we gotta (stop the war)

Lets stop the war (stop the war)

Ain’t no turning back (stop the war)

We gotta stop this war (stop the war)

Stop it right now (stop the war)

Mmm-mmm we have to stop this war (stop the war)

Ha e man (stop the war)

No no no no no (stop the war)

We have to stop the war (stop the war)

Yes (stop the war)

We can’t be killing each other all the time (stop the war)

Hanging around and just looking at the world deteriorating (stop the war)

Everybody dying, everywhere

No no no (stop the war)

He e man

We have to stop this war

Ain’t no turning back

We gotta stop the war

Stop the war

Stop the war

Stop the war

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Written by: TSEPO TSHOLA

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