15 December 2021 | Story Nondsindiso Qwabe | Photo Supplied
Bachelor of Education third-year student, Moeketsi ‘Escalator’ Ngesemane.

By day he is a third-year Bachelor of Education student on the Qwaqwa Campus, but this young man is a Sesotho music maestro with a deep-rooted passion for traditional music and a diligent devotion to unearthing new talent and connecting more people to the cultural artistry that Sesotho music has to offer.

Moeketsi Ngesemane, better known as ‘Escalator’ in the world of music, is only 22 years old, but he has already released one solo album and featured in two more, leads a group of more than 80 traditional singers and dancers, and is responsible for a string of groups around Qwaqwa. He has made strides far beyond his age, and Ngesemane says he is only getting started. He was also instrumental in coordinating the Qwaqwa traditional groups that performed during this year’s Multilingual Mokete festival, where he also featured.

Born and bred in Qwaqwa, Ngesemane pins his love for traditional music as something that was cultivated in his childhood while singing traditional songs with his mother and brother. “My mother is a traditional healer, so Sesotho music was a big part of my upbringing. As I grew older, my brother and I would perform in town and people would give us money. I have not looked back since.”

He cemented himself as an artist and artist manager in his first year in 2009. The name ‘Escalator’ came about in an uncanny way, as he fondly recalls. “I had a friend who was afraid of escalators when he first saw it – but I wasn’t, so he named me ‘Escalator’. I hated the name until I personalised the meaning behind it. It is able to take people from one point to another and from one level to another, which is something I am passionate about doing through traditional music, so the name was fitting.”

He captivated the minds and hearts of both young and old people who want to be under his leadership, and he grooms young people as young as ten, who will also thrive and take traditional praise singing and dancing to greater heights. This, he says, helps him alleviate some responsibilities so that he can focus on his schoolwork.

Celebrating the Sesotho culture through music

Word about his music skill often spreads quickly. “Even when I am on teaching practicals at different schools, once learners find out what I do, they ask to join my group and I can’t say no. Their ages range from 7 to 21, and I know that my group will have more than 100 members before the year ends,” he said.

He often puts together music shows with his group around Qwaqwa. This, he says, he does to promote Sesotho music and art.

Ngesemane has been selected to represent the Basotho Kingdom at the Indoni Mr and Miss Cultural South Africa – an indigenous event focused on promoting South Africa’s diverse cultural heritage, taking place at the Durban ICC on 17 December. He describes this as a dream come true.

“It’s a great honour to be representing the Basotho culture. I have discovered that young people, especially, have neglected their cultural roots and often look down on traditional music and regalia. I’ve made it my personal aim to promote and uphold the Sesotho culture through praise singing and dancing.”

You can vote for Ngesemane by SMS’ing ‘Indoni Mr Sotho’ to 33616.

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