The legacy of the founder of Sankomota – a very popular African music band – is now available as a book. Written by Frank Leepa’s sister, Mpho A Leepa, Born for Greatness: Biography of Frank Leepa is covers the important parts of Frank Leepa’s life – from the killing of his father by the a rented SADF military gunship, to his uphill battle in music and starting his band about three times to his love life and the finality of his death. This book qualifies as an almost-complete account of Frank Leepa’s short life.
Born in 1955, Frank Leepa taught himself music after dropping out of school and he became one of the best musicians of our known history. He started Anti-Antiques in 1974, and then Uhuru in 1976 – 1977 and Sankomota right after that. Sankomota’s music became the defining sound of the 1980s and 1990s. They were kicked out of South Africa in Sharpeville in 1976, by the SA’s Special Branch and told never to come to the country again. Their music was also banned. They finally toured Europe – where they met Ian Kerkhoff (now known as Aryan Kaganoff) and his interview in Melkweg catapulted Sankomota to European stardom. Sankomota was the first band in and out of Lesotho, to record an LP in that country in 1984. The band was banned in South Africa so they could not record anything in this country. Shifty’s Lloyd Ross drove his mobile studio to Maseru and recorded the pioneering and historical self-titled album of Sankomota.
Frank Leepa died in 2007 in his hometown of Maseru, Lesotho. There was no national mourning or importance around this great son of the mountain kingdom of Lesotho – perhaps Lesotho’s best musical export ever. When he died, his band had disbanded for the umpteenth time, finances of the band were in turmoil and his health was declining but he was still writing music.
This book adds to the growing body of southern African musical history. It will be followed by biographies of other artists soon to be published by Geko Publishing.