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.


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