Narratives of personal experience: The construction of identity in Basotho accordion songs

  • Lehlohonolo S Phafoli
  • NS Zulu


This article analyses accordion songs of the Basotho people as small narratives of self-identity. The songs are constructions of the way the singers think of and experience themselves as  Basotho, of their home country, Lesotho. They communicate this message to their listeners. The focus of the constructed self includes parentage and ancestry, clan totems and chiefs, social conditions, places where the artists were born and grew up, marriage problems, and experiences as migrant labourers in South Africa. These songs foster individual, national and collective identity in Lesotho. It is observed that in all the narratives, the singers tell about their associations and social relationships relating to shared locations, language and culture.

South African Journal of African Languages 2014, 34(2): 181–193

Author Biographies

Lehlohonolo S Phafoli
National University of Lesotho, PO Roma 180, Lesotho
NS Zulu
Department of African Languages (isiZulu), University of KwaZulu Natal, Howard College, Durban 4001

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2305-1159
print ISSN: 0257-2117