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Laws must protect musicians’ rights: Sebili

by Lesotho Times
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Nthatuoa Koeshe

ALL Basotho Convention (ABC)’s decorated musician Sebili Joseph Sebili wants the country’s copyright laws to be amended to protect artistes’ intellectual property and curb rampant piracy which he says is negatively affecting their creativity.

The 51-year-old musician, who has 17 albums under his belt, recently told the Weekender that political musicians were not sparred from the growing trend of pirating music which has deprived artistes of returns from their efforts.

Sebili said this on the sidelines of ABC leader and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s rally in the Mosalemane Constituency in Berea on Sunday.

“I usually print 500 copies of each new album and out of those printed copies, I only sell 200 copies at most during the launch of the album,” Sebili said.

“A few other orders will be placed afterwards but eventually, people will start sharing the album on social media and that negatively affects my sales as an artiste.”

He said it was unfortunate that the law does so little to protect their music against piracy and those found pirating music are not punished harshly to deter them from repeating the same offences.

“We sometimes find our music on You Tube channels not knowing who put it there and as artistes, we get nothing from that. It’s disheartening,” he said.

Having done music for almost 23 years, Sebili says being an artist was a God-given talent carried out meticulously with love. He however, said it would be rewarding if the same talent was paid for with rewards like money made from the album sales. He also urged his fans to ensure that they buy original CDs instead of pirated music.

Asked what makes him stand out as one of the most celebrated ABC artistes, Sebili said doing political music requires patience and determination in order to stay ahead of the more 26 other ABC artistes who are his competitors.

He told this paper that for him, political music was his way of using his gift to convey different messages to all ABC followers and that he had made it his mission to ensure that his music unites the party instead of destroying it.

“I think having the kind of experience I have in this music, I have learnt in the past years that as musicians we have the power to unite hence my team and I always come up with songs which build and unite rather than those which divide and provoke,” he said.

Since joining the ruling party at its formation by Dr Thabane and 17 other parliamentarians from the Lesotho Congress for Democracy in 2006, Sebili has released 17 albums whose tracks have always taken ABC followers by storm and he has grown into one of the most celebrated political singers in the party.

“I always tell people that doing this kind of music requires one to put in a lot of work and preparation to ensure that the kind of songs produced are appealing to the people,” he said adding that most of his songs were influenced by what is happening in the party.

He said it was crucial for political artistes to closely pay attention to what is happening in the party, draw it into their creative psyches and produce music that is both entertaining and spreads a specific message to ensure that people can relate to those tracks.

Sebili, who also closely works with other ABC artistes to create tracks for them, is now selling his new album Nka mpa ka shoa #10. He advised his fellow party artistes to be patient and ensure that they grow into their music, saying it was important not to skip some developmental stages.

He also warned that political music should not at any given time attempt to create divide parties but rather unite them.

However, with the ongoing power struggle in the ABC owning to the hotly disputed 1 and 2 February election outcomes, Sebili said it was important for him to side with the founder and leader of the party.

He said he believed in loyalty and staying with the one person who was the founder of the party seemed like a sound decision.

“This is not the first time there are conflicts in the ABC party but over the years, I have realised that the one person who should be praised is the founder and leader of this party and I will stay loyal to him,” Sebili said.

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