A thought on chronicling Lesotho’s woes…

With everything that has been happening recently in the beautiful Kingdom in the Sky—motions of no confidence, abrupt closure of parliament, heads of trusted individuals rolling, and innuendoes about the military leadership–I have been rather worried.

And why wouldn’t I, with our uncomfortable history of instability? Personally, I hear there is much ado … I pray it better be about nothing, and if it is about something, it better be about the welfare of Basotho and not about protecting interests of individuals. I also pray that should anything happen, Basotho will have the wisdom to stand together in unity like Teyateyaneng (TY) folks when the city went up in flames: theirs was a remarkable story at so many levels that include the fact that this is where ‘Black Jesus’ hailed from.

Black Jesus was a real living human being–political, complex and controversial. He is worth at least a chapter in a book that chronicles the instabilities in Lesotho post military rule.

As a citizen of this era, if I were tasked with writing such a book, I would start deliberately with BBC’s transcript of an interview with ntate Qhobela, Minister of Foreign Affairs, when His Majesty plunged Lesotho into the first of the many crises that awaited her post the military rule.

Ntate Qhobela was asked a question along the lines: “So, Honourable Minister, what can you tell us about what’s happening in Lesotho?”

“The young boy woke up one fine morning and walked to the wireless station to topple a democratically elected government”, was pretty much his response.

Shell-shocked, the reporter asked, “Honourable Minister, are you really referring to His Majesty as a young boy?”

Ntate Qhobela sounding ever so defiant responded as follows: “I say … this young boy walked to the wireless station to topple a democratically elected government”!

The reporter attempted again to get ntate Qhobela to withdraw his words, but failed and moved on with the interview.

Sadly, I can’t recall what came next, in part, because that bit didn’t make the cut in creating a ‘sound bite’ that was to be repeated over and over again–when giving a report on the latest happenings in the small Kingdom, surrounded by its single neighbour, South Africa, which had but just had its first elections.

The ‘sound bite’ without doubt served its purpose. It stirred very interesting debates around the question: what really … really was ntate Qhobela saying?

This is a question that opened my eyes to the intercourse that exists between language and politics–both with a capital and small ‘p’.

His Majesty at that time was unmarried. Culturally speaking he was a young boy, if at all he was not born into the royal family. I put emphasis on ‘if’, for in my opinion, it is the ignoring of the conditional that proved problematic.

But to a level of causing anyone to be shell-shocked and left totally exasperated…? This, I am uncertain of. I know there is infantilising language, but there is also context.

In ntate Qhobela’s response, there was an embedded ‘we are from a different generation’ message. He made it perfectly clear he was part of thee generation: the last standing generation taught by teachers who learnt Latin extensively. Or if you like, the purist generation that cannot bring itself to utter words like radio and fridge. But most importantly, a generation that defines the concept of respect differently.

So, while indeed it might not have been proper to call His Majesty a young boy, I would argue the reference was made at a level of merely getting us to engage with a question of what it means to be born a royal in a country founded by a minor chief, who was far from the apex of aristocracy. Basically, how do we make sense of the privilege that is so profoundly linked to democracy?

In all probability, at that point of the book, I would leave the question unanswered. Instead, I would ease myself to the 1998 moment, where Basotho went to their father, the King, Rabasotho, for refuge. In narrating this moment, I would attempt to make visible yet again the intercourse between language and politics. I would explore at some length what caused a respected leader, Thabo Mbeki, to assert that the truth was being prostituted with gay abandon. What was the truth? And why the need to use words laced with sexuality?

Anchored in the idea of the truth, I would fast forward to this current moment of uncertainty in search for the truth. And here, I mean any other truth except that there are no permanent enemies in politics!

I am not sure how that book would end; all I know is that the truth as a central theme might prove to be stranger than fiction. I suppose because at the moment I feel, there is the truth, and the truth behind the truth. And the only way to disambiguate is to read between the lines or wait patiently for the real truth–for apparently in the end there is but one truth, hence the saying “nnete e mokoka”! Hmmm…but really?!

Malala Pipe Visualised


These pictures were taken by my friend Susan Hansen at Dwesa, on the day that Siyakhula Living Lab was having a “thanks-giving” celebration to acknowledge all parties involved in the project.

I share the pictures today as I ponder why we work, ergo why worker’s day should be relevant to me–given this remains a day of work except I have an excuse not to answer emails and be reclusive.

So, why do I work? If you asked me this a few years ago, I doubt I would’ve been able to provide an answer with an ounce of conviction.

I regard my work as in tune with Malala Pipe—the believe that children are latent with potential that can be tapped so they become “Malala pipe(s) no more” i.e. actualised beings that contribute to a fair and just society.

I work in service of “Malala Pipe(s)”. This is why I work and I absolutely take joy in this fact.

With each passing day, I regret less that the younger me ever believed that I could do better not working directly with anything related to children, specifically their education. Today, I know I am a better being for simply letting my inner child show and following the passions I have about children.

With a degree of certainty, I know the person who said I could do better than be a teacher was wrong: because I am better a person for wanting and working hard to be a better teacher/educator. This is my truth and my simple answer to why I work!

Yet another reflection in appreciation of the truth

In December when I wrote my end of year reflection for Bokamoso Leadership Forum, I embraced the 30s as a defining period of one’s character – assuming, of course, there’s any ounce of truth to the saying, “life begins at 40”. I wasn’t at all trying to be defeatist about being in the 30s. I was merely trying to communicate how I was making sense of my own agency.

Unlike in my 20s, I don’t feel like I have the luxury of time. In many ways, I feel this urgency to have my affairs in order so that I can make a proper transition to adulthood (whatever this means).

I certainly appreciate it would take some work on my part to make the transition. But why does it have to feel like I am in a rocking boat?

For reasons unbeknown to me, I feel more and more convinced that I deluded myself in my 20s when I thought I was fortified to make decisions that I could account for. I second guess myself regularly, like it is a sport of sort. As a consequence, I often find myself caught in the horns of the ‘to be or not to be’ dilemmas. Just recently, my dilemma was: to be or not to be the woman who wears her heart on her sleeve? After much thought, I decided being that woman is who I am.

The result, however, was not what I expected. The storm of emotions rocked my boat. A journey stopped before it began. Sniffling and tears streaming down my face, I still managed to squeeze a laugh or two. I realised that, more than ever, the truth in my 30s carries more weight and value. And, what would have been a humiliating truth became but a humbling truth.

For me, this shift is very significant. Precisely because I think I would always want to be that woman, who wears her heart on sleeve. For I now realise that, that woman can be vulnerable, yet strong enough to form a positive relationship with the truth. Another thing, because of the clumsiness that often accompanies the truth, she can have a laugh or two at the expense of this clumsiness – for storms eventually pass and crying stops, irrespective of whether the tears were caused by the winds of the storm or raw emotions rooted in fear.

Fury of Unuttered Words

On many occasions I attempt to express myself in silence. While I believe this can be a powerful form of expression, I often find that others interpret it as being docile or some oblivious fool/idiot. For yours truly, this generates a fury that far exceeds that of a supposed scorned woman.

This fury torments and fires the soul to hell with one goal in mind: to have words uttered, and not just for utterance sake. The fury demands absolute honesty! Paradoxically, the fury voices its demand in subtle but cunning ways. “You are a free individual”, a voice from within says. “Speak for you will remain a prisoner of (my) fury”. This voice continues until it can no longer be ignored: “speak; speak; speak!”! And what was initially an innocent voice of reason changes to a nagging that surpasses all forms of hell. A hell not imposed by another being/creature but one that stems (uncontrollably) from within.

To end this nagging/hell, free yourself and be bold to utter those words which others may not be prepared to say. Say what you must, for this is all that the fury demands of you. You ignore this demand, the fury of unuttered words becomes unrelenting in its pursuit for truthful words to be uttered –precisely because the fury also serves as an officer for the enforcement of the following law: ‘the truth shall set you free“!

Questioning the truth

I am told spring is a good opportunity for one to re-engineer themselves. I started my spring with some of my colleagues basically telling me that I might be a bit naive to believe that the truth is important. It was indeed an interesting discussion, but at the end of it all, I felt so helpless. Is it really time for me to accept that the truth holds no value? Or perhaps that calling an omission a lie is improper?

Hmmm, truly interesting questions, but I think giving in amounts to accepting that change is not possible. If this makes me naive, so be it! However, I hope this spring many of us will individually question what is the truth and what it means to live in a society without it. Happy spring all and much love 🙂 !