Monday

Bofutsana (Poverty)

Poverty
Pronunciation: ['pä-v&r-tE]
Function: noun
Usage: often attributive
Etymology: Middle English poverte, from Old French poverté, from Latin paupertat-, paupertas, from pauper poor -- more at POORDate: 12th century
Meaning: the state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions.

That's how Merriam-Webster on-line defines the word poverty. Visit Merriam-Webster here.

Poverty is the next battle we have to fight. I had a privileged childhood in Lesotho. I did not have everything I needed, but I did not want, I did not go hungry (even when my father was in prison for political reasons), and I always had something to wear (though sometimes worn hand-me-downs). In Lesotho today there are people without even those basic things:
1. -- No food,
2. -- No clothes, no shoes
3. -- Leaky roof or sidewalk,
4. -- No education,
5. -- Poor hygiene,
6. -- Not everything they are entitled to, as human beings (decency) and as Basotho (the constitution).

This affects almost 50% of Basotho. Almost 50% of Basotho live below the poverty line. Half of the nation of Lesotho is hungry and unclothed. No matter how you say it, the facts are there for all to see: Basotho ba lapile, Basotho ba hlobotse, Basotho ba hatsetse.

Fair enough, we're a so-called third-world country, we're still developing, we're not the only ones--look at Swaziland. Hogwash! That's what those who want to pull a fast one, hoodwink the nation, continue to roll in the gravy, will often say. We've got our own share of fat cats, and they make up about 10% of the population. It is hardly their fault, though. Some of them (very few in fact) have worked hard to get to where they are. But the fact remains: 10% of the population of Lesotho is living it up while 50% is dying away. I invite you to do one or all of the following:

1. -- Look around you and spot a poor family. Don't just give them scraps from your table. Take one of their kids and send them to school. Primary and High school tuition in Lesotho is peanuts for people like you. You will be helping the child, the child's parents, the country, and yourself.
2. -- Give your clothes to needy families. Collect them over time and donate them in bundles, not as units (to reduce the embarrassment that might go with it).
3. -- Don't look down on the unfortunate. You just happened to be lucky, believe me. You're in no way special.
4. -- Send your maid, gardener, etc. to night school or weekend school or correspondence school or whatever it is they're doing these days in continuing education. Teach them not to depend on you but to stand on their own feet. You won't always be there for them and their families!
5. -- Be a human being, not a bas@$§!%£ard. That means: Recycle, don't throw away (food, clothes, paper, bottles); Vote, and vote well. Don't vote for your cousin or your pal, vote for the candidate who looks like they mean business. We're tired of all these fat-cat lackeys who are hungering for power. Tell your employees to go and vote or they're fired (Don't tell them who to vote for, though); Sympathise, talk to that poor person on the pavement. Look at them and smile, say Lumela Ntate, Lumela 'Mè, Lumela Ngoaneso. There is absolutely no good reason why it should be that person in that situation and not you, unless you consider luck and perhaps rotten politics a good reason. Read the constitution, so that you can better choose who to vote for, and so that you can better know what Basotho are supposed to be getting, so that you can better fight to improve the system. Talk freely about the constitution and about human rights.
6. -- Even better than (1) above, dare the government to match you. Talk to somebody high up there somewhere in the government. If you are not important enough to be accorded an audience, convince an important citizen who is and go with them. Get the government to send one Mosotho to school (fees, books, clothes, food) for every Mosotho child you send. Fight and refuse to take no for an answer. The general effect would be to double the number of children who go to school, insread of running after goats all day long. Hey, perhaps you and the government can convince a sponsor (A big cola selling company, The Bill Gates Foundation, for example) to match your team. Instead of one initial child going to school, four go to school. The snow-ball effect. Be tenacious. Don't give in. This is about the future of your children and mine. God knows Basotho have suffered enough as it is.

Blimey, how hard can it be? We don't have millions and millions of open mouths to feed. We have only two and a half. 2.5 million people. We have resources. 50% of the population living below the poverty line is inacceptable. It is inacceptable. It is inacceptable.

I've known Basotho who were poorer than the above-mentioned dictionary definition of the word. I've known people who weren't only lacking "a usual or socially acceptable amount of money" but lacking any kind of money; not for show, nor for the movies, nor the newspaper, but for papa (bread)! Remember the television images of starving Ethiopians during that country's drought? Do you think the above-mentioned definition fits their case?

Click on the "comments' link below to suggest other ways of fighting poverty and being less of a bas@$§!%£ard. The fight has only begun. Now go and do good.