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!

Oozing gratitude from the shavathon event

The Hamilton building united together to raise funds for the Cancer Association of South Africa. A good day to remember that there are so many good causes out there for which we can all make a difference. And also a good day for one to remember to be grateful about ones health and all other blessings bestowed upon them.

Personally, I am thankful in that I am born without any disabilities from a family of ‘substantial’ intellect (in a sense that many in my family have a university degree and believe with great conviction that education is the key to opening many doors of opportunity). As a result, I am what one would call middle class and I am fortunate to not know how it feels to worry about the next meal. For this, I am grateful because we have many people dying of poverty and many of us in the middle class category often forget to acknowledge how blessed we are. Yes we might not have the wealth of the few in the rich category class but we in the middle class are in a good position to be generous! And this is what today was about in Hamilton, we remembered that we were blessed and can contribute something for a good cause. So we made donations and shaved our heads and/or sprayed our hair in fun colours.

I am too attached to my hair to shave it but I did participate in the fun! I went all white and I am loving it 😉 . I thought I would feel self-conscious and uncomfortable but as I walk the streets I feel totally inspired! In part because I know I am going to look HOT in grey one day!

Ok, I derailed a bit but to finish off this posting, I would like to quote Eric Hoffer who said:

The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.

I have started counting mine … hope you all start counting yours in order to gain perspective and be grateful about whatever blessings you may have .

Peace and love to all!

I am a Pan Africanist

In my previous blog posting I unabashedly declared myself to be a black feminist. I thought it proper to finish off my declarations by stating that indeed I am a Pan Africanist! (In case my obsession with the great leaders of Africa like Moshoeshoe I hasn’t given me away.)

I make my declaration well aware of the fact that today the meaning of Pan Africanism has been oversimplified to levels where one can easily feel ashamed of being associated with this great ideal. To me, it is truly unfortunate that it seems we live in a society where it is easier to seek to oversimplify things. Hence, to some it is perfectly acceptable to view Pan Africanism as a movement for protecting black interests or expressing black anger! And yet Pan Africanism is about something bigger and greater!

Pan Africanism as an ideal is about us Africans uniting irrespective of our colour and gender to solve our own problems. Of course this is not an easy task given that we can’t exactly take out the uncomfortable issues in the equation such as corruption and colour of ones skins. But that said, I remain a believer! Yes I believe we Africans can beat poverty. I believe we have it in us to show one another compassion. Most importantly, I believe we have it in us to show the world that the whole collectivism ideal is not a myth but a reality that can be realised by remembering that true service is about serving others . Perhaps this makes me naive or even slightly myopic but I do believe in the true essence of Pan Africanism.

Yes sometimes I get frustrated but who ever said the journey to prosperity would be easy! “Ha esita Maisiraele leetong la ho ea Kanana a ile a rapela melimo ea bosaoana! ” (Translated this roughly states, even the God’s people, the Israelites, in their journey to the promised land failed to acknowledge their own God; they strayed and worshipped false gods! )

So, I am truly not expecting the journey to be easy nor am I expecting it to be short. My point is: I am a Pan Africanist and I certainly do believe in the African dream! I hope therefore that I will live long enough to see it come true. In the meantime, it is my prayer that we as individuals, brothers and sisters of this fine continent will do our bit to end corruption and promote prosperity and peace for all! As Basotho would say: Khotso! Pula! Nala! (Peace! Rain! Properity!)

Tsedu on how current leadership can benefit from Moshoeshoe I leadership

Today Google is providing me with answers relating to what Mathatha Tsedu said. I am not sure if I should just compile quotable quotes of what he said – even though I am yet to read the full speech.

Anyway from the news articles, Tsedu says the attributes that have been left by King Moshoeshoe as legacy of leadership include understanding that leadership:

is about concern for others and for self. It is about compassion in leadership and in society, it is about caring beyond [our] own concerns. It is about being involved and engaged.

By involved and engaged, he meant beyond mouthing socialist slogans. As he put it:

The poorest of the poor and our affection for them extends only to public meetings where we mouth socialist slogans. But in reality we want nothing to do with them and they have to fend for themselves.

In order to heed Tsedu’s advice, leadership and the general public as a whole needs to show true involvement and engagement in order to move away from poverty and live prosperous lives. As he says:

we as citizens have to say this is not the country we want to live in. For as long as we don’t say that, corruption will continue.

I certainly agree with him! We as citizens need to flex our democratic muscles. We also need to show compassion for each other and engage with some of the problems facing our own brothers and sisters. I therefore pledge to do my best to help make this world a better place. (At the moment, however, all I can do is help one person at a time…but I guess that is a good start 😉 .)

Second King Moshoeshoe I Memorial Lecture

Yesterday was the second King Moshoeshoe I memorial lecture. It was hosted by the University of the Free State. The topic of the lecture was:

When globalisation ties the fate of the Maluti to that of the ice caps on the Alps, what does Morena Moshoeshoe teach us about leadership today

The lecture was delivered by Mathatha Tsedu. I have tried to Google the contents of the lecture but it is not yet available:/ However, I bet a lot was said on what the world could learn from Moshoeshoe I. He was afterall one of the greatest diplomats to walk on planet Earth. This is no exageration on my part 😉 .

Not only was he a diplomat, he strongly believed that true leadership came from the heart and was rooted in love. I have no doubt therefore that Morena Moshoeshoe will tell us that today’s leadership needs to use the heart more. Because it is the heart that can ultimately lead us to a path of social capitalism – a path that has been well articulated by Nobel Peace laureate Muhammad Yunus when he was delivering the seventh Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture some few week ago.

There are other paths to follow, but in my mind, capitalism is here to stay. I have made peace with this fact and now I simply advocate for social capitalism. Capitalism that is not centred on just profit-making but on the welfare of others… May be I am too much of a romantic to think love can solve the problems of the world but I am unabashed in this believe!

A change in attitude to beat poverty

As alluded to before, I have had interesting conversations with many people I have met in my walk of life. Today, I shall share a conversation I had a few years ago on the state of poverty in Lesotho. I am not sure how the conversation started but I distinctively remember its conclusion. The conclusion was if one is hungry and stranded in some random place (particularly in the rural areas) then the best cause of action is to locate a ‘phephesela’ (flag indentifying where local beer is brewed at ). The reason given was that unlike in the past when one could just knock at a stranger’s house; now one is met with poverty accompanied by a greetings in the form of: “ao, ngoana morena! Ha re phela letlala tjee e be u tla jang?” (Translated roughly: what can we possibly offer you, when we live with such hunger! ) A greeting that threatens a legacy of being a welcoming nation of peaceful dwellers.

To those who haven’t been to a place where local beer is brewed, I imagine you are asking yourselves how could going to such a place be a better option? Well, first the local brew is quite filling- so if you also happen to be hungry then you will be sorted . Secondly, the regulars of such places are so much fun and incredibly knowledgeable. I know this because my great aunt, nkhono Makhotso brewed like no other woman to walk planet earth (I might be a bit biased)! Ha bobetse hantle joala ba hae e ne e ba ‘methele kapa lebitla-le-ahlame! (Translated roughly: when her brew was well fermented, it became what locals would term ‘the grave awaits’ unless you heed her advice and took the amount she recommended for your consumption.)

Ok, looks like I derailed a bit 🙂 The point is, poverty is so wide spread and the reality of it in ordinary households can be very depressing. Depressing because you begin to realise that Basotho have become helpless in the face of povety to the extend of being reduced to ‘bags with eyes’ (mekotla e mahlo, mehlohloa e rapame!) Sounds very harsh but the truth is, Basotho in the past believed so much in doing for themselves. They ploughed their land and didn’t need to wait for government to provide them with seeds. As a young child, I remember hearing ‘mphe-mphe ea lapisa, motho o khonoa ke sa ntlo ea hae’ . (Translated roughly: dependency leads to poverty while self-sufficiency leads to prosperity). So unless, each Mosotho makes a shift towards self-sufficiency, we cannot possibly beat poverty and jokingly, ‘phepheselas’ will be discussed as options to dealing with reality. And worse, future generations might grow up not knowing the many adages we have that reflect thoughts of abundance and generosity such as ‘bana ba motho ba arolelana hloho ea tsie’ (translated roughly: related beings share a head of a locust).

*For the sake of clarity, in the context of Sesotho, self-sufficiency does not come at the expense of solidarity. Working together is key, “kopano ke matla”! All I am saying is by changing our outlook we might rediscover past traditions of ‘matsema’ and the likes, where communities found creative solutions to ensure that all have food to eat.