Barricading and opening doors with naked bodies

On Monday, Dr Stella Nyazi at Makerere University got the door to her office opened after she got naked. On Tuesday, a number of womyn at Rhodes University barricaded a road with their naked bodies.

These womyn were compelled by different reasons to undress; but that they did in their respective universities is rather interesting for me.

Their actions have, for better or worse, inscribed the naked body to the university discourse in a new yet old way. New in that the ‘man of reason’, it would seem, can only be reasoned with by staging (or perhaps erecting) naked protests. And old, in that, we remain, in a sense, and to borrow from Oyewumi, with the oppositional constructions of a ‘man of reason’ and a ‘woman of the body’.

At this stage, I am not sure how best to process all this. I am unsure how to express the pain and trauma of patriarchy. Still, I intend to hold on to the hope that all will work out.

Why? Because when Charles Taylor’s shit was no longer tolerable, the Liberian womyn undressed at one point, as part of their sustained prayer for the devil to go back to hell. For me, these womyn are a ‘historic’ reminder that naked bodies can, if needs be, open the doors of dialogue and act as barricades against brutality!

With this historic reminder—and as I take heart in the possibility of things changing a bit—I am beginning to slowly grasp why Basotho talk of “ntoa ea libono”, when fighting for that which matters! We are in this fight and overcome…we shall!

Blame the vulture…

When will Lesotho break the pattern it is in? This is a question I have been trying to answer for myself for several days now.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Some people have argued that ntate Tom has brought us to this current moment of instability that we are in. This, I don’t completely dispute, given that ntate Tom has practically been in senior government leadership positions of almost all governments since the 80s— including the period where I could have been forgiven for thinking “Lebua ke mmuso ngoanaka!” was Lesotho’s national anthem.

So, as I said, I cannot dispute that ntate Tom is partially to blame for recent events, at the very least, for perpetuating the use of legal instruments to pursue political agendas. But, lest we forget, the one person who truly helped normalise this use was ntate Ntsu in the very act of “ba furalleng“, when he basically established a new ruling party (LCD) in parliament: to rule through application of legal mechanisms not based on anyone having literally put a cross against its name.

The moral question was secondary to ntate Ntsu. He concerned himself mostly with the legal question(s). For him, once he had decided to turn his back on his own sisters and brothers, he swiftly moved on and extended an invitation for everyone to do the same–“le ba furalleng, ‘na ke se ke ba furalletse”! To be sure, I am suggesting that it didn’t take him long to forget that he had implored us “ho hata mmoho“: to take synchronised steps towards peace and prosperity because together we can!

Personally, I think that swift change in positions characterises the moral flexibility of our political leaders … too flexible for notions of negotiating in good faith to work. Thus making it easy to rely on legal instruments/mechanisms because the question of bending the law is mute as long as one doesn’t break it.

By the above albeit warped logic, Ntate Tom wasn’t breaking the law when he prorogated the Parliament; he was acting out of an existing script, which he was also party to crafting with ntate Ntsu and many others. To blame him exclusively is unfair, especially if all he is doing is to bind his peers to this very liberal code of bending and never breaking the law.

As it stands, even as I pen this view, I don’t know what qualifies as the truth in Lesotho. All I know is that a vulture is almost always to blame. And at times, it may indeed be the “bearded vulture”, which, should we dare to blame, we can but find solace in the idiom, “lebitso lebe ke seromo“.

Can we do away with the carcass called power, in order to do away with all the vultures including the patiently waiting ones like the Guptas? This is a question-cum-prayer for me and perhaps many other Basotho.

A New Dawn for Lesotho

A new government: a new dawn for Lesotho! Or is this just wishful thinking? I suppose time will tell; but the plain truth is that Lesotho is desperately in need of change.

We need a change where each person’s humanity can be affirmed positively. A change where all can get access to services not because they are “Semake le Semanyamanyane“, well-connected so-and-so’s!

Without this change, the idea that being known is to be human might permanently take root in our society and culture. And eventually, it might be deemed normal to equate humans to (unloved) animals — like Rakotsoane does, for example, in his poem “Re hetla morao” 1:

Ha u se ‘nyeo u katana sa Lesotho,
Mohofe oa ho ja ngoatho sa maobeng,
Farakatšana ea sefetjoa mahlatsa,
Monetoa-kamehla ka manotho-notho.

Translated in context, the above snippet by Rakotsoane states:

If you are not so-and-so you are Lesotho’s tattered-rag,
A destitute to eat beyond yesterday’s leftovers,
A piglet to be feed vomit,
A subject of perpetual abuse rooted in unending justifications.

With the above in mind, and a plethora of other equally troubling reductionist views arising from poverty, corruption, etc., I reiterate: Lesotho needs a change. Hence, I sincerely hope that a new government and a new opposition will translate to a new dawn for Lesotho. Further, I hope that we, as citizens, will also do our part.

Kopano ke matla! Ha re neneng e le kannete lisuoa le bobe bohle-bohle: bosoto, bokhopo, boipatlo, boikhantšo, boikaketsi, bomenemene j.j. ! (Unity is strength! Let’s passionately hate conflict and all forms of deplorable ills: malice, meanness, pomposity, arrogance, hypocrisy, dodginess, etc.!) 2

  1. In a book titled Sekoele Basotho! written and published by Lobiane F. C. Rakotsoane.
  2. Please note: I tried my best to avoid any words that may be considered offensive or profane; ho butsoa, ke butsoitse!

Vindicated for resurrecting my "blues"

When I read that a recently released report declares a certain blue bank as one of the most expensive banks in Mzansi, I felt so vindicated for resurrecting my blues. If you have a look at my last two posts, then you will understand. Honestly, what can I say? My resurrection though not planned was timely. Could it be I am told its time I ended my blues? Hmm … 🙄 .

This is the link to the article I read from Mail and Guardian:

Much love to all as I return to my hibernation nest 😉 .

Passionate Letter

I am busy “perusing” my data after an incident that led to the damage of my laptop. I found this letter written in response to an article published in Sunday Times newspaper on the 9th June 2002 (though sent, it was never published). The article was titled: “When going it alone is a self-defeating farce” . The article was written by Mondli Makhanya.

Reasonably Provoked

After reading Mr. Mondli Makhanya’s article (9th June ), I felt compelled to write this letter as a young PROUD Mosotho child.

Firstly, to point out to Mr. Makhanya that it is not the “glorious battle of Thaba-Bosiu” that makes Basotho to be proud. To us, Thaba-Bosiu symbolizes the noble beginnings of a great nation built on the foundations of peace. Ironic as this may sound, the truth is Moshoeshoe I, the founder of Basotho believed more in maintaining peace not battles. Therefore, to use the word ‘battle’ in describing Basotho’s pride is completely absurd.

Secondly, to enquire how “Lesotho’s state of permanent instability” will supposedly change when it is part of South Africa –especially when the implication is that the South African government since 1998 has invested its valuable resources “to ensure Lesotho evolves into a country with predictable political and economic systems”?

Clearly as a young individual I do not have the answer to the above question but nevertheless I would still like to pursue this question even further. The South African government has hosted talks in Sun City in the past months in an effort to bring peace among the people of Congo and as a result it may be argued that a lot of resources were used in the process. The question then is: can anyone suggest that the country should exist in a different form and be part of another country simply because another country had tried to intervene? If so, why are countries such as India and Pakistan, Afghanistan and Israel still fighting?

In closing, I would like to say that as much as Lesotho’s stability may be questionable there is indeed HOPE. The very same old hope that has helped South Africa to be where it is today. A new South Africa that affords the likes of Mr. Makhanya to write like a complete NINCOMPOOP!

Zuma's Visit to the Mountain Kingdom

The president of South Africa was in Lesotho recently. In providing an analysis of the visit, Prof. Mahao on SAFM stated that Lesotho government was, I quote: “unimaginative”! Of course, there was context but I certainly loved that bit. It really made my afternoon.

Otherwise, I truly hope that the visit will yield positive results. Khotso! Pula! Nala!

Make up or veil

The French parliament has banned the face covering veil. My question is why not also ban the use of make up? I ask simply because I fail to appreciate the merits of the argument. Frankly, I think to believe that women are oppressed when they follow their traditions is not a determination that can be made based on perceptions that are possibly driven by fear or lack of understanding on the true symbolism of why the tradition exists.

A few years ago, I was told a story of a very influential Mosotho woman who was for banning ‘thapo’ (black attire worn for months to symbolise that a woman is mourning for her husband). As the story goes, when the said woman lost her husband, she insisted on wearing thapo! Why? Well because she recognised its symbolism! So what is the moral of this story? If you haven’t walked in the shoes, don’t be presumptuous….

Hence, in this case, I think it is not for non-Muslims to determine whether a face veil should or shouldn’t be worn by those who choose to. Further, if truly we feel women should be comfortable in showing off their pretty faces, then we should ban make up… (and risk the collapse of the ever growing beauty industry).

Just so it is clear, even though I am suggesting that make up should be banned, I am all for its use! I am making the suggestion merely to point out that many women on a daily basis have their faces covered up with either make up or veil. Hence, the French should ban them both or allow them both!

A word on Malawi gay sentencing

Like many other people who may be deemed sympathetic to homosexuals, I am numbed by the decision taken by Malawian court to jail a couple on the grounds of their sexual orientation. I know numb may seem mild but I hope it explains to our friends outside the continent why we were not the first to respond to the sentencing.

With corruption, poverty and other challenges facing us, it may appear that we are complicit to the violation of gay rights. We are not and believe it or not, we are familiar with expressions such as: “all it takes for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing!”

So why does it seem we are doing nothing? Well, in my opinion, I think the hypocrisy of taking issue with other people’s bedroom activities overwhelms us to a state of numbness – particularly because our plates are already full with unresolved issues that hinder the growth our continent. We exist in a society where we judge the qualities of our leaders by everything else but what they do behind closed doors of their bedrooms. We have priests that have vowed celibacy and have families outside the church compound; but come Sunday, we are willing to listen to them because we understand that it is not what they do that matters but what they say! (I know some may take issue with this particular example but I bring it up only because religion is often used as justification for homophobicness. While on this, let me make it perfectly clear that I am no authority on religious matters. However, I do believe that it is not for us to pass judgement. I believe our duty is to live in peace with one another and wait for our Maker to pass judgement unto us.)

But, when the numbness goes, is there anything that we can do? I wish I could answer this question but I must say I can’t! And this scares me beyond believe because I think part of the silence and inaction is generated by the lack of hope that things will change. But without taking action, we will have gay people marrying “right” only later to cheat with partners of the same sex. Then we will whisper among ourselves about how the poor cheated partners could have not known when the writing was on the wall! What is worse is that as we whisper, we will ignore to ask the question that would explain why individuals are willing to live a lie when it is a known fact that the truth shall eventually come out. Therefore, coming out itself is an act driven by the truth. The truth that some people are homosexuals, others are heterosexual, bisexual or omnisexual!

Thus, whatever the truth may be, I believe irrespective of our sexual preferences or orientation, we should be measured by the good that we do in our communities not what happens behind closed doors of our bedrooms. I also believe that if at all we choose to use bedroom activities as a measure of worthiness, then we should be consistent and apply that to our leaders and everyone else.