It’s a love that has withstood many trials and tribulations—an affection that continues to grow with each passing day.
A deep love spanning 22 years, there can be no doubt that Sechaba Litabe, or Fatere as he is popularly known, has a special affinity to his chosen profession which can never be broken.
Even as he sits in the studio at his Teyateyaneng (TY) home on this otherwise scorching afternoon (11 February), the man whose fame has spread far and wide keeps humming some lines from one of the songs he is currently working on.
Fatere lives music and his wife of 16 years, ‘Mamorena Litabe, and his four children, know just when not to disturb him.
Not that the Chifona Music exponent loves his family less, but this is a man who chose to follow the musical path and was lucky to find the perfect wife who understands how his heart beats.
‘Mamorena was full of praise for her husband on this visit, pointing out she believes it is her role to nurture her husband’s talent.
“I love his music and support his work. Indeed, appreciating his talent should start at home because he needs to be in a music-perfect environment,” she said.
Over the years, ‘Mamorena has learnt when to give her husband the space he needs to do his work and now that they have a recording studio at home, things have also changed.
“Things have changed but for the better because he can work from home. I also don’t worry when he is away because I know he is still working; he is doing what he loves most and will always come back home to me and the kids.”
Some of Fatere’s neighbours describe him as a humble role-model whose afro-jazzy music has changed lives.
Born and bred in TY, Fatere embarked on what has turned out to be a thriving music career soon after completing his high school education in 1992.
He explained how he has remained devoted to music and managed to grow and diversify his talent.
Like many other people pursuing a dream, the legendary musician has fallen many times but says he has always picked himself up and continued with his journey.
His has been a journey to preach the goodness of humanity, a kind of music that speaks not only to Basotho but the rest of the world.
Fatere’s music reflects how proud he is to be a Mosotho. His songs talk about the beauty of the original Basotho culture, the importance of celebrating heroes like Chief Masupha (the son of King Moshoeshoe I) and how Basotho, with hard work and support, can give more to their country and the world.
“I would also like to sing about love, one day. I have loved and married and had kids whom I love very much but when it comes to singing about that kind of love, the lyrics are still to come,” Fatere, who has released six albums, said with a chuckle.
“I am currently working on a new album because I know my fans are waiting for something new. I am taking my time to come up with a gem of an album. I don’t want to disappoint my fans. I owe everything I have become to those who have remained loyal to my music all these years. I will always love my fans and would like to invite them to share with me on my Facebook page: Fatere Seoli Se Matla.”
Fatere stressed because of his role-model status, he uses his music to help transform lives for the betterment of the country.
“Musicians have an important role to play in helping to build the country. You don’t necessarily have to be a politician to make society better. Music is also a powerful tool and at the same time, how we portray ourselves to the people can make a positive or negative impact.”
The challenge, he added, is that some musicians do not understand what being a role model demands.
“Being a role model does not mean you have to be flamboyant—wear nice clothes and drive nice cars. It simply means you have to work towards the betterment of the people.”
Despite his current efforts to release a new album, Fatere said he was still doing live shows and performing at weddings, graduations and other special gatherings.
“The main reason I took time to release the album I am working on now is that I was busy last year.”
Despite a busy schedule, last year also changed his life, he revealed.
After setting up his home studio last year, Fatere thought he would finally have the time to record his own music and no longer struggle to find good recording companies.
“I had not really thought big about how I could fully utilise the studio until Vodacom offered me the great opportunity to mentor upcoming musicians in the Vodacom Superstar competition. I had not done this kind of work before, so it sort of challenged me. I agreed because I felt honoured that they had recognised my talent and trusted me to do a good job at grooming the participants.”
The opportunity, he said, opened his mind to how he could use his talent to unlock the potential of young and upcoming musicians in his homeland.
“Thousands of talented young people throughout the country participated in the competition, and after a lot of hard work, only three contestants made it to the finals.
“This programme helped me realise the amount of music talent we are not tapping as a country. Although we seem to struggle with unemployment, I saw how, as a country, we can focus on grooming the music talent and help create jobs, particularly among young people. I also realised the need to support many youngsters who, despite not making it to the finals, showed they had great talent.”
He said similar programmes should be replicated to further promote music-originality and creativity.
However, Fatere said although the programme ended, some of the participants were still coming to him for support.
This, he said, had also made him realise how he could further utilise his recording studio and bought another situated in Maseru.
“I have Sound Engineering skills and can also produce all music genres. Working in these two studios is something I am passionate about because I have seen how many musicians struggle when they want to record. Others even travel to South Africa to have their music recorded. With the two studios, we can do arrangements if the artistes can’t play certain instruments.”
He said ensuring high quality music was at the heart of his production work.
“We should continue improving the quality of our music. At the same time, there is also need to change the mindset of some people who believe local music is not good enough. This is just a perception and sadly, one that is also shared by some organisers of music shows and festivals, who think less of, and even pay less, local musicians.”
Fatere said whether it’s famo or any other different type of music genre, it is its originality that makes it unique and special.
“We know that we produce a lot of good music here because we have local musicians who have won accolades in countries like South Africa. I can also speak of how some musicians in South Africa imitate my music. What that tells me is my music appeals to people beyond Lesotho. In Botswana for example, they love my music and scream with excitement each time I visit.”
Fatere said support for musicians should start with the government while the private sector also has a critical role to play.
“I’m happy about the government’s position towards piracy, which had gone down last year but sadly, is becoming a problem again. I think more deterrent mechanisms should be introduced to effectively deal with the theft of artistes’ works once and for all.”