It is by now an open secret that I am enamoured by Frank Leepa’s work. The emerging academic in me actually believes that his work must be regarded as his intellectual contribution. My dear friends can easily attest to how, depending on the quantity I have imbibed, I come (very berry) close to creating an impression that all of my research could hopelessly lead to his answers. (And, if one thinks about it, this is not an entirely a bad thing: for, any worthy research must yield Frank answers!)
This said, and tempted as I am, I shall not bore you with my half-baked sentiments on why I believe Frank’s work—from a point of view that rejects the white gaze—may add value to the academy. In this blog post, I just want to write about the man who could express his love—the romantic Frank.
Just to be clear, the romantic Frank remains one with the genius Frank. The genius who, for example, elaborately crafted the “make love and not war” message in Obe, a song with a spiritual dimension that celebrates J.P. Mohapeloa while offering social commentary: to effectively put the past and present in dialogue.
Undoubtedly, with his ability to put one to work to mine a message,the genius Frank is elegant. However, he is never quite direct as the romantic Frank. The romantic Frank, who admittedly is confined only to matters of the heart, simply and elegantly lays it down as it is. Oa lememela, ke metsi a foro!
To the ‘Mysterious One’, a true ‘wonder’ that captured his heart, he frankly declares that his ‘neck is on the line for an embrace’. He is certain this embrace, together with the love that comes with it, will ‘fill [his] world with a sense of dignity’. All he but requires is an opportunity to freely demonstrate his love by giving all he wants: his desire! A desire to fill his ‘sense of beauty’ in the world of the ‘physical’, ‘mystical’, ‘wonder’, that makes it near impossible for him to compose a fitting love song—which obviously is his idea of a love letter.
If this doesn’t leave you in awe or perhaps nostalgic for times when suitors were willing to wear their hearts on their sleeves, then I imagine you might not see the romantic side to Frank. In my imaginative life, a space where I also intimately engage him, I have concluded that this romantic side, in fact, explains why to love him is to be a little obsessed with him.
I am cautiously using the word ‘obsessed’ to vindicate those women who in the process of loving Frank Moki Leepa got misunderstood. Here I am talking about the women who could have easily loved him to the ends of the earth, as guitar man, monna oa likatara . (To those who may not be familiar with the turn of phrase “o tsamaile le monna oa likatara, o ntse a tlola meqomo Bekesetala” , there is significance to the reminder that Frank was a guitar man.)
I believe, as a “guitar man”, Frank got to understand deeply that love transcends the material and other people’s opinions. To (romantically) love is to honour the truth of your heart. Pelo e ja serati. To honour that truth is a question of choice: to see or not to see the beauty and tranquility in the storm that others may perceive.
In my humble opinion, this is the essence of the song Moonlover in Frankly Speaking, and the raison d’être for the line: ‘no more blue days/only choose days/I swear by the moon/I will fall for you’. Tying to the chorus, this particular line conveys a clear message, which can be liberally paraphrased as follows:
You, who makes my heart sing, I will choose you every day, even if others call you ‘trouble’ or an impeding ‘hurricane’—ke re uena, mabina-bina a pelo ea ka, hore na ba ka u bitsa setsokotsane sa meleko, ke ikhethela uena!
With such an assurance, how can one doubt that Frank was romantic? I mean…honestly…what could be more romantic than a person who understands love in terms of choice or their sense of agency; while believing, of course, that the shared intimacy must bring in humanising beauty and dignity?!