Home > Choir > Silang Mabele [South-African folksong] (choir SATB)

Silang Mabele [South-African folksong] (choir SATB)

Year of composition
Year of arrangement
Moderate (Grades 4-6)
3 minutes
Classical music
Instrumental parts
Not available

"Silang Mabele" is a traditional South African song in Tswana (a Bantu language spoken in South Africa). It translates roughly as ‘crush the corn’ (meaning ‘let’s get down to work’). This is the version of the melody and text as recalled by Joyce Keitumetse Moholoagae, who is a "tradition bearer" for The Song Collectors Collective (an organisation aimed at conserving rare oral culture, headed by folk singer Sam Lee). Her recording can be consulted for the correct pronunciation: https://soundcloud.com/song-collectors/scc-joyce-m-silang-mabele-edit

This traditional song was also used by Sotho South African songwriter and anti-apartheid protest singer Vusi Mahlasela on his eponymous third album, albeit with a different melody and approach. Vusi writes: "The song simply means getting down to work. It is a folk traditional song we sang while I was growing up. I took this song into another level by adding the message of a call for unity to fight poverty all over the world."

This arrangement starts with a simple statement of the melody, followed by a homophonic harmonization and then commences with a rhythmic setting, incorporating more and more countermelodies.


Silang Mabele

Gamang dikgomo

Tsatsi le phirimile

Bana ba tshwere ke tlala

Ba tshwere ke ramatheka

Monna yo mosesane


Crush the oats

Milk the cows

The sun is setting

Children are hungry

They are held by Ramatheka

The thin man

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