Independence—Meandering questions


It is a long independence weekend in Lesotho. We are three years shy from celebrating 50 years of independence, but given that we are far from experiencing “nala” (prosperity) as a nation, I am not sure whether this is something to delight in or cry for.

Actually, I lie! If it were to help in any way I would most certainly cry for my beloved country, Lesotho fats’e la bo-ntat’a rona.

Despite conferring degrees by the masses—like we did last weekend—our education system is plummeting.

Education, the cornerstone of development, is now largely regarded as a matter of personal achievement, or, to put it more bluntly, a means to upward mobility. We use the likes of Michael Schumacher as crowning examples to cement this idea. And, of course, to inadvertently reinforce this growing outward-looking culture, where anything good can only come from the outside and necessarily imbues a Western (capitalist/neoliberal) feel of success to it.

Fundamentally, we seem to forget that education is deemed a right because it is a venture of social justice and a means to creating a society of equals. I would argue based on last Saturday’s graduation speeches that this view to education is only partially remembered because of some unspoken agreement that a hearty speech should, at a minimum, be peppered with “public service” rhetoric.

But what if we had gained independence from the bonds of political correctness and unspoken accords of what qualifiers as a hearty speech? What would be our truth when it came to education and the general state of affairs? Would we see ourselves as plummeting into a failed state or a nation on a prosperous track?

Truthfully, I am not sure of the answers, but I think it is time that we revisited the three core questions of the 1960s when we were a nation in search of its identity:

  1. Re bo mang? —who are we?
  2. Re tsoa kae?—where do we come from?
  3. Re ea kae?—where are we heading?

Otherwise, how do we ever hope to be self-sufficient again? Or rekindle that industrious spirit that made us breed our own sure-footed ponies at a time when horses were a mere novelty?


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