Thursday

Tlala (Famine)

There are just over two million of us (2,207,954) in 30,355 square kilometres. There are 10,274,595 Belgians in 30,510 square kilometres. We have similar-sized pieces of land, but notice the difference in population size. There are five times more Belgians than Basotho.

How come we are starving and they aren't? Where did we mess up?

You might say it's because they have more arable land on which to grow crops for export. Well, we have more mountainous land with which to attract skiers, mountain-climbers, trekkers, campers and other mountain lovers. That's not negligible. Remember, there are only 2,207,954 of us!
I haven't even mentioned the water yet, which in a way is also due to the mountainous terrain. They haven't got that, have they? There are five times more Belgians than Basotho on the same-sized chunk of land, and the Basotho are starving but the Belgians aren't. Why? Simple question that some will call silly. If so, do answer it, for my (I'm completely baffled!) and my visitors' benefit, by clicking on the comments link below or using the tag form to the right.

In Belgium, out of 100 people, 4 live below the poverty line. In Lesotho, out of 100 people, 49 live below the poverty line. Wait a minute and let that sink in.

Has it sunk in?

In other words, practically half of the population of Lesotho lives below the poverty line! Wow! We must have messed up somewhere in the course of our road to Independence, or right after Independence. Is qomatsi responsible?

My other question is, what are we, Basotho and friends of Lesotho, doing to get rid of this disastrous and shameful situation? Are we helping each other? Are we helping ourselves? What do we need to do?

I think every able citizen of Lesotho or friend of Lesotho should, nay, must:

1. Support local businesses and local produce. I know, it's so much nicer and so much more fashionable to get those shoes in Bloemfontein, but how does that help Lesotho's economy?
2. Help your neighbour. If you're a Christian this should be second nature to you. If you're not a Christian this should be second nature to you. If you're not a Christian and you're not human, then helping your neighbour may not be what you were meant to do. Go back under your rock.
3. Pester your village chief, the person you voted into Parliament, anybody with governmental authority, with proof of starving people, or people whom Litokelo tsa botho somehow seem not to be meant for them (No job, no food, tattered dirty clothes, precarious family life, no school). Pester them? Yes, send them letters, call them, go and see the chief regularly to complain.
4. Do not think you were meant to have enough food and that others were not. Think you are bloody lucky, because that's what you are. Poor or rich, we're all the same, Jack. See that Lehlanya at the OK shopping complex? Why don't you slip him a cigarette next time? How about a sandwich? Or better yet, talk to the man for five minutes. What's his name? Where does he come from? Begin your conversation with: Lumela, ntate. When you finish, say Sala hantle, ntate. I think ntate Moshoeshoe I would have liked it that way.
5. Do you know of something we can do to love and help our neighbour? Go ahead and post it on this page for all to see, and for all to act.

The Minister of Communications Science and Technology, Dr. 'Mamphono Khaketla says....

Monday

Anthem

Sesotho version:

Lesotho fatse la bo ntat'a rona,
Har'a mafatse le letle ke lona.
Ke moo re hlahileng,
Ke moo re holileng,
Rea la rata.


Molimo ak'u boloke Lesotho,
U felise lintoa le matsoenyeho.
Oho fatse lena,
La bo ntat'a rona,
Le be le khotso.


English Translation:

Lesotho, land of our Fathers,
Among countries you are the most beautiful.
You gave birth to us,
Within you we were reared--
You are dear to us.


God, please protect Lesotho.
Spare it conflict, spare it tribulation--
Oh you, land of mine,
Land of our Fathers,
May you know peace.


Lyrics: François Coillard
Music: Ferdinand-Samuel Laur
Adopted: 1967

Come on, people, "Har'a mafatse le letle ke lona?". A country, a city, a village, a home, nothing becomes beautiful if nobody is doing something to render it beautiful. What exactly are we doing, as Basotho and friends of Basotho, to make Lesotho beautiful? Burning the capital city is not going to do the trick. Do we believe what we sing in the national anthem? Do we? Do you?

"Rea le rata?" Let's show it a little, shall we? Let's start by LIVING IN THE COUNTRY if we can. Let's start by supporting home businesses. Let's start by voting when there are elections. Let's start by planting trees (you know, on that day that is set aside for tree-planting). Do we love Lesotho? Do we? Do you?

Heck, we are one people who speak the same language and share the same customs, yet we're butchering each other over political differences. Is that loving Lesotho? I think not. And I think that to earn the right to put our right hand on our heart and sing "Har'a mafatse le letle ke lona," we must invariably start by doing something for the country and for its dispossessed.

I also think that anybody who says "Rea le rata" should know what they're saying. Those aren't words to utter thoughtlessly.

Basotho, tsohang, before it is too late.


Does anybody have any thoughts on whether we should or not get a Mosotho songwriter to rewrite the anthem? (I've got nothing against the French gentlemen who did write it! I think they did a brilliant job, under the circumstances.)

If you do, please leave your thoughts here: T E P

Wednesday

Peace, or Khotso

Now, if you want a peaceful people, you've got the Basotho. The word (and the concept) PEACE has become:

1. A boy's forename: as in Hello, my name's Khotso Masilo
2. One third of the national motto [Khotso (Peace), Pula (Rain), Nala (Prosperity)]
3. A popular greeting: Khotso to one person and Khotsong to more than one.
4. The largest idea behind the national anthem of Lesotho (see next post), written by two French chaps.

The nation of Lesotho was founded by King Moshoeshoe I. How did he do it? Well, he simply gathered refugees fleeing regional wars (Lifaqane), fed them; asked cannibals (more hungry refugees) to join his clan, fed them, and there, you have it: Lesotho was born.

With so many different backgrounds, these people had to compromise and be understanding, otherwise...

Tuesday

Nickname

Yes. Lesotho is too often called THE SWITZERLAND OF AFRICA. What do the two countries have in common? Quite a lot, actually, if you disregard the dosh:

Mountains, Surface area, Being chums with everyone.

But why the dickens is Switzerland never called THE LESOTHO OF EUROPE? Huh?

Know what I mean?

Wednesday

US English vs British English


My friend, Rachel, says, "In American English, quite means 'very'
or 'really', (as in, Your site is quite good! I really like it!).

In British English, however, it means 'not that much' or 'a little',
or even 'not good at all', (as in, Yes, the weather's quite alright
-- it's not flooding yet.)"

This is a repeat post. Thanks Rachel.

Monday

Who's vs Whose


I've heard some native speakers make their share of mistakes on who's and whose. I've heard, for example, Who's car is that?

But you know better, don't you? You would not say Whose making that awful noise, would you?

I didn't think so.

Why we say "love" and not "zero" in tennis


Learned something today while I was watching French television (The French Tennis Open). Do you know why in English we say Love-15 or Love-30 and so on, when saying tennis scores?

Well I discovered today that it comes from l'oeuf, the French for egg, which by its very shape represents nil, zero, zilch. And since l'oeuf, when badly pronounced, can sometimes sound like love, some wise guy or gal decided to use it to impress friends, and that's how it got into the English language.

I'm not bull-shittin' you...I mean...that's what I heard on the telly, so it must be right...right?

Saturday

Question tagging


A few days ago I saw something on a web page that startled me. The webmaster was apologising to his readers for having printed wrong information. (S)he had question-tagged a sentence that went something like, We've scarcely seen the last of them with haven't we. One reader had then pointed out the mistake. In fact the sentence should be question-tagged with have we?

We've scarcely seen them, have we?

I know, I know, it doesn't sound right, does it?
But remember that the word "scarcely" is negative, just like "never" or "hardly".

We've never seen them, have we?
Now that sounds fine, doesn't it?

The big question with me is: should we formalise and sterilise a language in this way? The first tag may be correct, but it sure as hell doen't sound right.

Take the question of prepositions, for example. We're supposed not to put them at the end of a sentence. But that often leads to stilted, non natural-sounding speech.

As Sir Winston Churchill supposedly said, that is nonsense up with which we should not put.

Friday

My friend, Rachel, says, "In American English, quite means 'very'
or 'really', (as in, Your site is quite good! I really like it!) In
British English, however, it means 'not that much' or 'a little',
or even 'not good at all', (as in, Yes, the weather's quite alright
-- it's not flooding yet.
)"

Thursday

Hello World. This is the first post. Many more will follow.