Friday

Less AIDS Lesotho, a non-profit organization

A group of 5 ladies in New York has formed "Less AIDS Lesotho", a non-profit organization to help children, women and men infected/affected with HIV/AIDS. It has struggled to function as an organization because it's still a small group working with no budget. It's a challange for them, but they say they're determined and won't give up. They are asking all Basotho and friends of Lesotho to join in this fight. "Our people are perishing and this will lead to extinction," they say. All information concerning Less AIDS Lesotho can be obtained from Ms Felleng Nkhereanye on Mastutu at aol dot com.

Thursday

Map of Lesotho

Open the Map of Lesotho on the side, if you'd like, in order to better see what I'm talking about. Let me tell you about my country, Lesotho.

The capital city is Maseru, on the western border. That river running by it is Mohokare, or as the English re-named it, The Caledon River. Mohokare is also the border between Lesotho and the Orange Free State, one of South Africa's provinces. To the right of Maseru, the capital city, is Thaba Bosiu, literally, Night Mountain. Thaba-Bosiu is a bit of a tourist attraction because it was the stronghold of Moshoeshoe, the founder of the Basotho nation. Legend has it that the mountain grew at night and in so doing thwarted many-an-attack by Zulus, Boers, or other enemies. There were always enemies lurking around in those days. Moshoeshoe's village and burial grounds can still be seen at the top of the mountain.

To the right of Thaba-Bosiu is Katse, where the now-famous Katse dam is located. Katse Dam is one of several that comprise one of the biggest hydraulic projects in the world. It is big. And it is taking a long time to complete. We are hoping that revenues from the sale of water and electricity, as well as diamonds and tourism, will feed us and take us out of our sick misery. Far to the right of Katse you'll find Mokhotlong. That's where the Let'seng-la-Terai diamond mine is located. South-east of the town of Mokhotlong is Thabana-ntlenyana, the tallest mountain in Africa, south of the equator. It rises to a respectable 3482 metres. By comparison, Kilimanjaro (Africa) is 5895 metres high, Mont Blanc (Europe) is 4807 metres high, Aconcagua (South America) is 6960 metres high, Mt McKinley (North America) is 6194 metres high, and Everest is 8848 metres high [My head is spinning!].

Having Thabana-Ntlenyana, which literally means "beautiful, little mountain," is a gift from God. In fact, the gift goes beyond the peak: no part of Lesotho is below 1000 metres! That's a virtual slap in the face of Tibet. Think of what we could do with such a gift, on a continent whose reputation is built on heat and safaris.
~ Tired of yawning lions? Go fishing in Lesotho at 3000 metres.
~ Lesotho, Africa's coolest country. Literally.
~ Be one of the few to ski in Africa, visit Lesotho.
~ Switzerland, the Lesotho of Europe.
~ Lesotho: fishing and skiing and pony-trekking and backpacking all rolled into one.
~ Mmaletsunyane Falls, Lesotho's 190-metre natural shower.
The possibilities are endless. Let the other guys fight about who has the fiercest lions. That's old hat. And what have we been doing? We've been trying to outdo Kenya and Tanzania and Botswana on the lion-and-heat angle. Dumb, dumb, dumb. There is no way we'll ever win that contest. We are us, they are them.

Zoom down from Thabana-Ntlenyana and stop at the Sehlabathebe National Park. It is the only one in the country and I'm glad it is. We don't need another one. It houses the flora and fauna of Lesotho. Full-stop. Wanna see a lion? Go to Kenya. Wanna see the Aloe polyphylla, a.k.a. Spiral Aloe (English), Kroonaalwyn (Afrikaans), Lekhala kharatsa (Sesotho)? Go to Lesotho. If you don't go to Lesotho you will probably never see this amazing plant, because it doesn't grow anywhere else in the solar system! Come to think of it, why not go on an Aloe safari? Here are other angles of Lesotho's lekhala: from the top, and from the top again.

But we're veering off the subject, I think. I was talking to you about the map of Lesotho, wasn't I? Do you still have it open? Good. Go to the southern tip of the country, the area around Quthing. That was the playground for the herbivorous, Lower Jurassic Lesothosaurus. You can see its footprints and see its bones. And I don't think we've dug up all of them. Go north to Mohale's Hoek and head for Morija, a little ways south of Maseru, the capital.

Morija is world-famous for many reasons. The Morija Arts and Cultural Festival, Its history [ missionaries, museum, printing works, Thomas Mofolo, education (country's historical educational hub), protestant church (oldest house of worship in Lesotho) ]. It's a small town that is packed with history and emotion. If you enjoy whodunits, well then, read Tim Couzens' "Murder at Morija," a true story. Another advantage Morija has is its close proximity to Maseru, the capital, and the airport. One doesn't need to take a Cessna to go to Morija.

We have both the God-given and earned means to bring tourists flocking to Lesotho, but we've been concentrating on the wrong angles. And the political unrest of 1970 and 1998 haven't helped any. One of the things I've been trying to convince myself to accept, however, is the fact that all that is history, finished, never to come back and tarnish our name again. Never to come back and kill our children again. I'd like the whole world, especially the Basotho, to believe that and do everything in their power to bring it about. Each one of us--yes, you too--has a moral obligation to register to vote, to vote, to invest in Lesotho, to speak about Lesotho to those who don't know it, to help those who are worse off, to desist from having un-protected sex. It'll take all of us, plus our foreign friends, to turn the situation around.

You can close the map now. That is Lesotho, Land of our fathers, small, proud, unique and unspoilt. But that's not all of Lesotho, and there are things that I hope we will be able to talk about in the future. Lesotho is understandably overshadowed by its immense neighbour, South-Africa. But I consider that an advantage. They already have a flourishing tourist activity, and all we have to do is convince a good percentage of that activity that we are worth a visit, too. Go to South Africa to see the sharks, but come see us for the cleanest, most natural fishing this side of the continent.

Wednesday

Anthem Verse 1, Stanza 1: Lesotho, fat'se la bo-ntat'a rona

That's Lesotho, land of our fathers, the first verse in our national anthem. Let's take a closer look. The music was composed by Ferdinand-Samuel Laur (1791-1854) and the lyrics were written by François Coillard (1834-1904). The freshly independent Lesotho adopted the tune as its national anthem in 1967, a year after independence from Britain. You can listen to the anthem on the government website.

Those two French dudes who penned it did a pretty good job. I quite like the way it sounds. The mothers, though--there are no mothers? We'll let that slide. We know how men are, don't we? Sometime in the future, though, we're gonna have to tinker with that line so as to include our mothers, who actually do the donkey's work but always get the lesser of everything.

Is Lesotho the land of our fathers? We know that they came from up north somewhere. My own ancestors, Bakhatla or Bakgatla, came from Botswana. I've always heard talk of Ntsoana-Tsatsi, a place where the Basotho supposedly came from. "Ntsoana-Tsatsi" sounds like "From the Sun", so it could mean the East or the North-East.

When I was in Nairobi, Kenya, I met a guy from Zambia: Mukelabai XXXXXXX. What was funny was the fact that he would stare at my brothers and I when we spoke. We became friends and stayed in contact for many years after that, for Mukelabai was a Lozi and could understand almost everything we were saying. The Balozi from Zambia, it turns out, decided to go down South, and eventually formed a big chunk of what is today the Basotho nation. Mukelabai sings the Lesotho national anthem like it was the Zambian national anthem. Why? Because of François Coillard. Remember him? He had adventures all over southern Africa, especially in Barotseland, and must have written the tune in Silozi / Sesotho. The group that stayed around Zambia still sing it, as well as the one that trekked south! So who are we? Do we own this land enough to call it Land of our Fathers?

What about the bushmen (Baroa in Sesotho, Basarwa in Setswana) we found there? Isn't it the land of their fathers more than it is the land of ours? I think we ended up blending with Baroa which, if it's true, gives us some rights to the land and justifies some of that first verse, Lesotho, fat'se la bo-ntat'a rona. Apparently
one important site of early settlement was Nts'oana-Tsatsi near present-day Vrede in the northern Free State. Archaeological investigations have revealed that this area was settled as early as 1350, probably by the Bafokeng clan. These were the pioneers of the Sotho groups who settled much of the Free State and Lesotho. They lived closely with the Baroa as well as with the ancestors of the Baphuthi, who were the first Iron Age peoples to settle by the Caledon River Valley. The northern half of the Free State is the true heartland of Sotho settlement. Lesotho, as we know it today, was the southern frontier of this civilization although the upper portion of the Caledon River Valley was very rich and fertile
The above excerpt also identifies Ntsoana-Tsatsi, which is where my mum had always taught me was the origin of the Basotho people. I guess we do, after all, have some claim to this land and can go ahead and call it Lefat'se la bo-ntat'a rona. Just remember to include the mothers in there sometime in the near future. The next verse is Har'a mafat'se le letle ke lona. I would love to look at that line in your company as well. Let's do that soon.

AGOA: Another View

"AGOA never had, and never will have, an impact on Eritrea's Economy," says this proud Eritrean.
I read the AFP report under the heading "Bush adds Angola to trade pact, drops Eritrea, Central African Republic" dated December 31, 2003. I also read the reasons given by the Bush Administration for making that choice. Having addressed that issue before, I have no intention of revisiting it except to offer my fellow Eritreans a look at AGOA. What does "being on the list" constitute? There is not a single industry in Eritrea that is going to be affected and there has not been a single Eritrean industry that has benefited from "being on the list", so let us be realistic and see AGOA for what it is or not. Ethiopia led by the corrupt, racist, lawless, belligerent, apartheid minority regime is considered eligible and has been put on the list while Eritrea has been removed. So much for the rule of law!"
So what's AGOA and how helpful is it to African economies? Try to contrast the above view with a pro-AGOA one. You've got both an African person-in-the-street and an American John Doe (or Tom or Dick or Harry) as potential beneficiaries to this Act, signed in May 2000 by Bill Clinton. Who's the real beneficiary? In essence, AGOA "extends the possibility of favored trade status to 48 sub-Saharan African nations if the government of these nations follow guidelines spelled out in the Act. To date, 38 countries have been declared eligible for AGOA," says AGOAAfrica dot com.

I would like to hope that AGOA is good for Africa and for Lesotho, and not only in the short term, as my fears insist, but perhaps for longer than that, so that some of the benefits trickle down to the local populace. Lesotho's AGOA "status" is up for review this year (2004). America wants Lesotho to produce its own textile, instead of just making clothes from imported textiles and sending the clothes to America. I think that it is good to insist on home woven cloth. If Lesotho is unable to produce its own raw materials, then it's bye-bye AGOA. But my initial question still stands: between an average African and and average American, who's the beneficiary?

Monday

Bare with me...sorry, I mean bear with me

On Lesotho is getting a manual face lift. I have decided to use a template that I have built myself to make things easier both for you and for me. It will take a few days to get everything straightened out: links, font, colours, etc. I will keep posting during the whole time, however, so don't hesitate to come back.

PS: The preferred linking URL is http://lesotho.blogspot.com, and not http://www.lesotho.blogspot.com.

Thank you
Merci
Kea leboha

GWB Campaign

Everybody just keeps saying "Will Bush Get Re-elected?" or "Bush Won't Get Re-elected!" or "Does God Want Bush Reelected?" or "Bush will Get Re-elected!" My question is, elected to what, the governorship of Texas? Isn't that where he was elected last?

Did he or did he not win the presidency at the ballot? I want this cleared quickly because, you see, if so many people keep talking of re-election, then I get doubtful, and I start wondering about the authenticity of the information I have. If he did win, then go ahead and speak about a possible re-election. No sweat. But if he did not, then you have no business using the prefix "re-" for an event that has never taken place. "Re-" means anew, again.

Or maybe, just maybe all these writers do not really mean anew but about, just like in formal letters
Re: Last week's meeting in Milan.
In which case everything falls into place. Re-election, as in about election. That must be it, because if it isn't, somebody owes me a serious explanation.

Friday

The Inverted Pyramid Syndrome

One of the best football players I've ever watched, in the flesh or on the telly, is Mochini Matete. A short, stocky, fast, dribbling and left-footed goal-scorer, Mochini played left wing for Matlama FC, the capital's team. The only thing he probably couldn't do was score with his head. I've never seen him get a red card. Today he must be nearing fifty and the world never saw him play! Not at the Africa Nations Cup, which is being contested in Tunisia at this very moment, nor at the World Cup. Mochini has never made it to either event. It is a shame for football enthusiasts and the sport is that much poorer for it. And what's more, it was hardly Mochini's fault.

When I first saw Maradona I was instantly reminded of Mochini: left foot, speed, height, weight, dribbling, scoring. I decided, however, that Maradona was more efficient, whereas Mochini was a more elegant player, more entertaining, at least. More than Maradona? Yes, I think so. But that's only my opinion. I last saw Mochini bewitching a football stadium in the late seventies, shortly before my family and I were forced into exile by the government of Leabua Jonathan.

The difference then, I calculated, must lie in the degree of efficiency. Mochini was efficient, and boy, was he. But Lesotho sports and European sports are not held against the same standards. European and other pro players have not played football in years. They've been working, if you will. They go to work everyday, spend the day working, and go home to their families in the evening. They work at the stadium or at the gymnasium. Mochini and other African players go to work everyday, spend the day working, and go to football practice in the evening before going home to their families. They played football. Otherwise they were police officers, post-carriers, taxi-drivers, teachers, job-seekers, and any other occupation you can think of. They did their bacon-earning 9-5 then went to play after work. That would mean something like 9-5 for work, 6-8 for football, as opposed to the timetable for pro players.

That would also mean that motivation, incentive, is vastly different between job-holders and players, as well as training facilities and muscle mass and stamina and equipment and number of minutes in contact with a ball, and qualifications and number of training staff, and a host of other insignificant little details that do make a difference, nonetheless. These were different. Then there is talent, non-bought, nurtured, gained through loving something. You should have seen Mochini play.

As a kid growing up in Lesotho I was a Matlama FC fan. But I was also a staunch supporter of the South African Kaizer Chiefs, whose star players had names like Teenage, Wagga-wagga, and Ace. I met the latter years later in Toronto when he was playing for the Blizzards there, and I felt extremely priviledged. Somehow Kaizer Chiefs was superior to Matlama, and could kick any Lesotho team's booty like that. I could safely be fan to both of them, as a result, because in my mind they were galaxies apart. The Chiefs were up there somewhere and Matlama were right here, on earth. I loved the latter dearly, but everybody just knew--the two teams were not in the same league. Full stop. Full stop?

Two or three times a year we would all huddle around a radio set and listen to a Premier League Final or English championship or other crucial match. And of course most of us supported some English team. I was a Liverpool fan. Don't ask me why. For some reason I just liked Keegan and Dalglish and the whole team and those screwy jerseys they used to wear. And I inadvertently knew, as did everyone else, that Liverpool could beat Kaizer Chiefs. I mean, the thought of them playing against each other had never crossed my mind and had no chance of ever crossing my mind except in my wildest fantasies, for Liverpool were higher still, and so could lick the Chiefs just like that, and the Chiefs could lick Matlama just like that!

Every four years the football world celebrates its favourite sport by holding the World Cup and having a wild time. Every four years we would huddle around that same radio set and listen to the exploits of the biggest teams on the planet. All of us could easily rattle off the names of players on our favourite teams: Socrates, Junior, Zico, Bebeto, Romario, and even before, Pélé, Garrincha, Jairzinho. The trend in importance was Brazil, then the Chiefs, then Matlama. Kids today might even add an African powerhouse between their international favourite and their South African favourite.
B r a z i l

L i v e r p o o l

C a m e r o o n

C h i e f s

Matlama
My warped football world. I wonder if I did not base everything else on that scale. International is better--local isn't good. The Inverted Pyramid Syndrome. I know that I wasn't the only one, and I know that this syndrome wasn't reserved to football. It permeated our society from clothes to foods to sport to skin colour. And, sadly, it had not started with my generation, but with the colonialism fighting generation. While these folks were engaged in negotiations or conflict with the English for independence, they were also trying to dress like them, talk like them, and eat like them, most of them to this day. Some were using skin lotion to lighten their skin. I don't blame them--it was the order of the day, and one had to swim or sink, right? But I wish they'd stop it, today, and dress African and talk like Africans and champion our African ways.

The Inverted Pyramid Syndrome is a scourge that must be fought, just like poverty and hunger and AIDS and corruption and discrimination. And doing so, in my view, would be keeping in line with the National Vision, the promise made to the Basotho people by the Lesotho governement, part of whose rationale states that
o--collective energy, collective focus and collective endeavour will always enhance chances of real progress;
o--every successful nation has a rallying point, a common factor, a unifying, inspiring theme;
o--we are faced with a simple choice between keeping abreast with civilisation and progress on the one hand or embracing decadence, stagnation and regression on the other;
o--also, we have to make a deliberate choice between survival or extinction as a nation.
Keeping abreast with civilisation and progress on the one hand or embracing decadence, stagnation and regression on the other. I'd like to say that in the way I would have written it, if I may. "Keeping abreast with technical developments and progress on the one hand, while observing and respecting our traditional ways and treasures on the other." It stands to reason. Why?. Because technical advances are not civilisation per se, and because if we forget who we are then decadence and stagnation set in, we are in imitation of another, we aren't producing anymore, we've become barren. And that's when we start trying to rediscover ourselves, when we shouldn't have hidden ourselves in the first place. The Inverted Pyramid Syndrome is a deadly ill indeed.

Tuesday

Foreign Dispatches: reti.blogspot.com

Foreign Dispatches has an interesting discussion on AGOA, or the African Growth and Opportunity Act. Lesotho gets a sentence somewhere in the article. But far and above are the author's views on AGOA and on some people's reaction to it. The post in question was effected on Friday, 14 November, 2003, and is entitled Trade, Not Aid, for Africa.

Transitional Local Authorities

The Lesotho News Agency, LENA, reports that:
"The process to nominate transitional local authorities in five wards that form the Maseru district is being delayed by impassable roads to some rural areas because of the current heavy rains in the country."
What are "local authorities" as the term is used here, and why are they "transitional?" I would appreciate any help on this one.

Monday

Hamilton Naki, the Other Surgeon

Hamilton Who? I know. I had the same reaction, too. But Mr. Naki was Dr Barnard's (as in Dr Christiaan Barnard, the guy who did the first heart transplant on a human being) right hand man. Dr. Barnard himself apparently said something to the effect that Hamilton Naki was more technically skilled. During the terrible years of Apartheid, however, Mr Naki's title was gardener, instead of anaesthetist, or surgeon. And he's living on a gardener's pension even as we speak.

Hey, maybe if we dig deep enough.... Hmmm... Does anyone know if Einstein had a gardener?

Read about Mr Naki and his work in this BBC article, as well as this Guardian Unlimited article.

IC Publications Special Report on Lesotho

A thorough report from New African magazine. It includes history, current affairs, and an interview of Prime Minister Pakalitha B. Mosisili, who says
The most urgent challenge is socio-economic development. In that respect, I would say the greatest challenge facing us in Lesotho and in this region is HIV-Aids. It is the greatest threat to our survival as a nation. It is a problem that we have to join hands with the other SADC countries to solve. To that extent, we are going to host here, jointly with the World Bank, an SADC summit of heads of state in May to discuss the issue of Aids. We are a small country, we have only 2 million people, and unless we stand up and do something about Aids, we will be in serious trouble. Our current infection rate is very high, estimated at 31% of the population.

The other major challenge is poverty reduction. We have to put in place programmes to improve the lives of our people. Thankfully, water is a major national resource and we've started developing and harnessing this resource. We now sell water to South Africa, the revenue from which is now going into our poverty reduction programmes. Over and above that, we have to use our water resources for agriculture and irrigation. We cannot depend on food aid as we've been doing all along.
Good to hear. Probably Lesotho's top two enemies right now. AIDS and poverty. I, however, would tend to put them the other way round: poverty and AIDS. Poverty can easily lead to AIDS contraction, but AIDS doesn't easily lead to being poor. I think poverty reduction is who we should train our sights on first. And we must get the big guns out for this one, because if we succeed with poverty reduction, our other endeavours will be that much easier.

I'm happy to see that among Lesotho's mentioned "nicknames" the author has omitted The Switzerland of Africa. We are not "the Switzerland of Africa", unless, of course, somebody starts referring to Switzerland as The Lesotho of Europe. If you want to use a descriptive nickname to write or speak about Lesotho, please use "The Mountain Kingdom," or "The Roof of Africa," or "The Kingdom in the Sky," which we all are.

Sunday

Stumbling blocks to multiparty democracy

Like any young country, especially on the African continent, one of the toughest fights toward "democracy" is effectively dealing with traditional lore and established ways. I'm not about to suggest that we chuck our customs onto the rubbish heap and hug someone else's. No, siree! But in my view the fact of the matter is, either we agree to run our system along the lines of a proven one, the English one, say, with its constitutional monarchy, or we run our system the way we had been running it before we were so rudely interrupted by colonisation. Full stop.

The word democracy above is in inverted commas because many African societies were democratic, however different that may have been in comparison with democracy as we know it today. In Lesotho, for instance, Ntate Moshoeshoe I, the founder of our nation, always made his decisions after consulting his advisers, and sometimes the whole village. During these gatherings, called pitsos (summons or calls), everybody was free to voice their opinion. Today Basotho like to say Mo oa khotla ha a tsekisoe, or An opinion at a decision-making gathering is sacred.

It comes as no surprise that there's a lack of intraparty competition, which the above-mentioned article rightly points out as one of the reasons party members today have "little or no control over their leadership." Although most leaders were democratic in the manner mentioned above, the permanence and "unquestionability" of their status could not be denied. We still tend to consider people in higher positions unmovable and unquestionable, just like our kings were. And that's an example of what I think we shouldn't be doing. If we want political parties and a prime-minister and a parliament and elections, then we must accept many of the novel behaviours that go with such a system. If we want an African system, on the other hand, then let's go all out for one, and just add those extra features that bring a novel improvement without changing the heart of the system.

I will soon be posting about discrepancies between our traditional system of governance and modern democracy in Lesotho. I consider such discrepancies part of the problem and one of the major perpetrators of poverty in Lesotho and possibly in Africa as a whole.

Friday

Lesotho-South Africa Relations

In relation with Lesotho and South Africa from the time just before Lesotho's independence until 1990, South African History says:
1964, 30 May The leader of the Basutoland National Party, Chief Leabua Jonathan, indicates that Basutoland is so economically dependent on South Africa that the imposition of economic sanctions is not feasible.

1965, 08 May Chief Leabua Jonathan, leader of the Basutoland National Party which is to form the Protectorate's first government, tells political refugees that they are welcome to stay provided they do not use Basutoland as a base for operations against South Africa.

1966, xx xxx Phyllis Naidoo banned. Arrested for ten days for breaking banning order. She leaves for Lesotho where she becomes a victim of a parcel bomb.

1966, 01 Feb All South African refugees are to report to the Basutoland police for documentation or face deportation to South Africa. A closer check is to be kept on political asylum figures.

1966, 28 Dec The Lesotho government announces it will deport eight South Africans, whom it describes as a danger to peace.

1967, 10 Jan B.J. Vorster and Chief Jonathan of Lesotho meet in Cape Town. A joint statement emphasizes their belief in peaceful co-existence. Economic aid and technical assistance are also proposed.

1967, 18 Jan The Lesotho government invites all South African political refugees to make formal application to leave the country, to indicate proposed dates of departure and countries of choice. Transit rights through South Africa will be arranged.

1967, 03 Mar An official announcement by the government of Lesotho indicates that preparations for anti-South African political refugees to be flown from Lesotho across South Africa to other African states to the north have reached an advanced stage.

1967, 13 Mar South Africa signs treaty with Lesotho on the amendment of the insured parcel agreement of 27 June 1963 and 01 July 1963.

1967, 03 May An official announcement by the government of Lesotho indicates that preparations for anti-South African political refugees to be flown from Lesotho across South Africa to other African states to the north have reached an advanced stage.

1967, 27 Sep South Africa signs treaty with Lesotho on air services.

1968, 4 Feb The Prime Minister of Lesotho, Chief Jonathan, is reported to be prepared to co-operate with the South African government.

1969, 12 Feb The South Africa Act Amendment Bill, repealing the provisions of the South Africa Act of 1909 for the possible incorporation into South Africa of Rhodesia and the former High Commission Territories (Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland), is passed with the approval of the Opposition at its second reading.

1969, 11 Dec South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland sign a new customs agreement in Pretoria, to come into operation on 01 March 1970.

1970, 30 Jan The Prime Minister announces that the government is watching the situation in Lesotho following the elections and that necessary measures
have been taken to ensure the safety of South Africans there.

1970, 11 Dec South Africa signs a customs agreement with Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland.

1971, 04 Oct Chief Leabua Jonathan, Prime Minister of Lesotho, warns that violent confrontation between blacks and whites will be an inevitable consequence of apartheid. Mr Vorster responds with restraint, in the interest of friendship.

1972, 04 May The Foreign Minister announces that South Africa and Lesotho have decided to establish reciprocal consular representation.

1973, 24 Aug South Africa signs treaty with Lesotho relating to the establishment of an office for a Lesotho government labour representative in South Africa.

1974, 8 Apr The Prime Ministers of Lesotho and South Africa meet to clear
up certain misunderstandings and reaffirm their belief and determination that both countries base their relations on the principle of good neighbourliness.

1974, 08 Oct The Minister of Bantu Administration and Development states that, in 1973, 475,387 foreign Africans were working in South Africa. Of these 36,480 were from Botswana, 148,856 from Lesotho. 139,714 from Malawi, 129,198 from Mozambique, 3,249 from Rhodesia, 10,032 from Swaziland and the remainder from other African territories.

1974, 05 Dec A comprehensive monetary agreement is signed between South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland.

1975, 27 Oct South Africa signs an amendment to a customs union agreement of 11 September 1969 with Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland.

1976, 24 Nov School pupils and students from Soweto who have fled to Botswana, Swaziland and Lesotho to escape continuous Security Police searches for ringleaders of unrest, have rejected the governments amnesty offer which expired on 22 November 1976. An estimated 700 have fled since June, more than 500 of them to Botswana, whose government has requested international assistance in the matter.

1977, 12 Feb The Prime Minister of Lesotho, Leabua Jonathan, claims the whole of the Orange Free State, Matatiele in Natal, the Herschel district in the Transkei and the Southern Sotho homeland of Qwa Qwa for Lesotho - areas, he says, fraudulently taken from it during the Basotho wars.


1977, 13 Nov The Anglican Bishop of Lesotho, the Rev. Desmond Tutu announces that he is giving up his current post to become Secretary-General of the South African Council of Churches (SACC) which is taking an increasingly radical position
against apartheid.

1978, 06 Jan Donald Woods, banned editor of the Daily Dispatch (East London)
reaches Britain with his family, having fled South Africa via Lesotho and Botswana. The pro-government Afrikaans press launches a virulent campaign against him: the British and American press in contrast give wide and sympathetic coverage
to the story of his escape.

1979, 08 Jan Signs agreement with Lesotho on issuing of notes and coin.

1979, 12 Dec Signs agreement with Lesotho on the issue and use of a road camp site on Cobham State Forest.

1980, 06 May Black PEBCO activist Thozamile Botha breaks his banning order and escapes to Lesotho.

1980, 20 Aug The Prime Minister meets Lesotho's Chief Leabua Jonathan in an attempt to improve relations between the two countries.

1981, 28 Jan Signs loan agreement with Lesotho.


1981, 06 Apr The Heads of State of Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique and Swaziland meet in Mbabane, to discuss South African military incursions and subversive activities against black Southern African states.

1981, 11 Jun Lesotho and South Africa decide to establish a consultative committee to resolve misunderstandings arising from the movement of people across their common border.

1982, xx xxx South African army raids Maseru, Lesotho, killing 42 people.

1982, 23 Nov Swaziland and Lesotho take steps to clear themselves of suspicion of allowing insurgents of the ANC to use their territory as springboards for attacks on South Africa.

1982, 09 Dec South African forces raid houses in Maseru, killing thirty members of the ANC and seven women and children caught in the crossfire. A chain of sabotage incidents within South Africa are blamed on the ANC command structure in Lesotho. The incursion is widely condemned

1983, xx xxx By the end of 1983, neighbouring states appeared reluctant to provoke South Africa by openly showing active support for the ANC ?? but they did not turn their backs completely on the ANC either.

1983, 26 Mar The Lesotho government accuses South Africa of launching raids into Lesotho. South Africa denies this.

1983, 11 Apr Chief Leabua Jonathan, Prime Minister of Lesotho, tells the National Assembly that Lesotho is faced with a war with South Africa.

1983, 26 May Traffic flow slows at the border posts between South Africa and Lesotho is reported following bomb explosions in Pretoria and Bloemfontein,
for which the ANC office in Lesotho first claims, and later denies, responsibility.

1983, 03 Jun Foreign Minister, Pik Botha, meets Lesothos Minister of Foreign Affairs. They agree on the need to curb cross-border guerrilla activity and
to place their relations on a more amicable footing.

1983, 28 July South Africa and Lesotho exchange prisoners across the Caledon River, heralding a new rapprochement and a lifting of strict border control measures.

1983, 15 Aug The Lesotho Foreign Ministry appeals for international help to stop South Africa applying an economic squeeze designed to force Lesotho to expel up to 3,000 political refugees.


1983, 08 Sep The Lesotho government announces that an undisclosed number of South African refugees have decided voluntarily to withdraw from Lesotho. On 10 September it airlifts the first batch of twenty-two ANC members to Mozambique and Tanzania. Another 200 will follow later.

1983, 11 Sep The Lesotho Foreign Ministry protests to South Africa, following further clashes with guerrillas in the Leribe district, and an eight-hour attack against Maryland Roman Catholic mission near the border.

1984, 30 Jul South Africa has held up supplies of British weapons to Lesotho and the UK has complained several times about the delays, officials said today.

1984, 14 Aug Lesotho rejects South Africas proposal for a draft security treaty.

1985, xx xxx Another raid on Lesotho is followed by a coup. Jonathan Leabua's administration falls.

1986, 25 Jan Sixty ANC refugees are airlifted out of Lesotho to counter South Africa's threat of a blockade against that country.

1986, 26 Mar South Africa and Lesotho issue a joint statement that their respective territories are not to be used for acts of terrorism against each other.

1986, 18 Apr South Africa signs bilateral monetary agreement with Lesotho.

1986, 24 Oct South Africa signs treaty on Lesotho Highlands Water Project. Exchange of notes with Lesotho regarding the privileges and immunities accorded to the members of the Joint Permanent Technical Commission.

1987, 30 Apr South Africa signs an agreement with Lesotho in regard to the establishment of trade missions.

1989, 01 Apr South Africa signs monetary agreement with Lesotho.
The list is longer and includes other entries, related to other countries and other periods. I have listed here a sample concerning Lesotho-RSA relations for the time Leabua Jonathan was Prime Minister of Lesotho.

Leabua Jonathan

The Tiscali Reference, which is based on the Hutchinson Encyclopaedia, says about
Chief Leabua Jonathan:
Lesotho politician. A leader in the drive for independence, Jonathan became prime minister of Lesotho in 1965. His rule was ended by a coup in 1986. As prime minister, Jonathan played a pragmatic role, allying himself in turn with the South African government and the Organization of African Unity."
He was a Lesotho politician. He was a leader, because he did have a certain amount of following, but perhaps we shouldn't be qualifying that with phrases such as "in the drive for independence." He did become prime minister of the freshly independent Lesotho but in 1966. His rule was ended by a bloodless military coup in 1986, and, yes, he allied himself in turn with the South African government and with the African National Congress. Not the Organization of African Unity. The Kingdom of lesotho became a member of the Organization of African Unity.

Parisian Sues Chirac (Mohai oa Paris o Qosa Chirac)

A Parisian voter has sued Jacques Chirac for unfulfilled electoral promises. He says Mr Chirac made campaign promises to organise a referendum on decentralisation, but never did. The man, one Mr. Louis Breisacher, is asking for a symbolic 1 euro in damages.

Can we do that in Lesotho? Hmmm. Suppose we could. I wonder if our politicians, then, would promise only what was within reason and, once elected, would do everything to avoid being sued. I wonder if giving citizens the power to sue politicians is good in the long run. I wonder if Mr. Breisacher will win. I wonder if he'll even go to court. He's probably smiling mischievously over a nice glass of wine right now.

P.S. My apologies to my English-speaking readers. I haven't been able to find mention of this in the Anglo-Saxon press at all. On the French web, 20 Minutes (already linked to above) and Yahoo.fr seem to be the only two that mention it.

Wednesday

Basotho Herdboys Recognized

What do Lesotho herdboys, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Jimmy Carter, Chico Mendes and Anil Agarwal have in common?

They have all been Global 500 laureates. We might know what the other laureates did to deserve the distinction, but the Lesotho herdboys...what exactly is it they did?

Monday

An iAfrica.com article on Lesotho

I came upon this little article while I was surfing, chasing links as I often do. It's quite informative and pleasant to read. But very little effort went into the last paragraph, which says
Most people living in Lesotho are of the Sesotho tribe, along with a very small number of Europeans and Asians. The official language is English, but most people speak Sesotho or Zulu.
We do not say Sesotho tribe but Basotho tribe. The official language is not English alone, but English and Sesotho. And most people speak Sesotho, with only a few speaking Xhosa or Tembu, not Zulu. It nonetheless remains a refreshing read.

Sunday

Lesotho Economy: Where are we headed? (Re leba kae?)

So what is the highest diamond mine in the world? It is Letseng in Lesotho, a chilly 3100 metres above sea-level. Letseng is 76% owned by JCI and its empowerment partner Matodzi Resources, and 24% owned by the Lesotho government. That’s 24% more than what the Lesotho government owned from 1976 to 1982 when the Letseng mine was operated by DeBeers, who unearthed a grand total of 280,000 carats during that time. When one knows that
Lesotho is one of the world’s poorest countries with a GDP of US$929. Heavily dependent on remittances from migrant workers employed on South Africa’s mines - which contribute to around half of Lesotho’s GNP - its economy is highly integrated with that of South Africa. As such the increasing number of redundancies over the past 6 years, from 104,000 to 60,000 has compounded a massive unemployment problem estimated to be some 35 - 40 percent. Lesotho has begun to transform its economic prospects with the exploitation of its rivers to sell water, and possibly also hydroelectric power, to South Africa. Economic growth is also being pursued through the development of export-oriented manufacturing, led by the clothing and footwear subsectors. Growth in construction has been twice that of manufacturing, but this has since levelled off with the end of the construction boom associated with the Lesotho Highlands Water Development Programme,
one is almost heartened.

But one still wonders how 2 108 000 people who dispose of M15million per month [One Loti = 11.8798 Sterling pounds, 112.06 Zimbabwe dollars, 0.14 US dollars and 1.0 South African rands] from their water, of revenues from the 24% stake in the Letseng diamond venture, of our yet-to-develop potential to attract tourism, of the fact that
Lesotho’s external position is characterised by low debt burden and service, as well as a strong external liquidity position. Net external debt in 2001 was 23% of export receipts, compared to 76% median for all countries assigned a 'B' rating by FITCH IBCA. The low debt burden reflects the country’s excellent debt servicing history as well as success in attracting foreign investments, mainly for the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) and manufacturing, and concessional financing from official creditors,
[ Quoted from www.centralbank.org ],
of the potential to produce and export to wider international markets, evidenced by the clothing industry that provides much of America with Gap jeans, although the clothes factories themselves turned out to be sweatshops, one wonders how such a people can go hungry and be afraid and not have one of the most stable economies and governments on the continent. And I don’t think I have mentioned everything we’'ve got going for us, like being from only one ethnic group and speaking one and the same language, etc.

The army. Get rid of the army, for Christ’s sake. It's been nothing but trouble from day one. Who are we gonna fight with the army, South Africa? Come on. That’s money badly spent. We must have a strong police force that has several special branches (a riot squad, for example), but let there be not a single tank, fighter plane or bazooka. We don’t need those. They will just be used to knock off more Basotho than they already have.

Where are we headed? Our economy took a bad knock and nose dived right after the 1998 riots (When the army mutinied). The economy is still struggling to get back on its feet. The capital city was torched during those riots. Bad idea. Tons of cash down the drain. The reason? The party that had lost the election wasn’t happy, so they torched the town (stop snickering). One of the things that we seem to believe in Lesotho, or even in Africa as a whole, is that the country must serve the interests of the party or of the party guru. Look where that has gotten us, today.

Forget yourself, forget your party, think Lesotho, think my children's future, think oh shit, we've been fucking up all along, think Botswana did it. Between the early 1970s and the early 1990s, Botswana had the fastest growing economy not only in Africa, but in the whole world. I'd like to be able to say something to that effect about my country, even by confining myself to SADC countries.

The botched 1998 coup attempt had another major impact on the Lesotho economy: our brains promptly left the country and settled in South Africa! I don't blame them, although I'm ready, right now, to go down on my knees to ask them to go back home, or at least to invest heavily in Lesotho. Please?

After having studied and worked hard to prepare for your future and the future of your children, some nut goes and jeopardises all of that by questioning the outcome of an election that was internationally supervised and declared free and fair. I understand your decision to get the hell out. But look at the situation now and ask yourself what would happen if most of us went back, rolled up our sleeves and clanged our pots like there was no tomorrow, because there may not be? What if we started by removing the army and replacing it with a well-trained police force? Then voting for the party that sounds like what we want to see done (jobs, no corruption, etc). What if, what if, what if. What if you started by telling us what you think, using these very pages? At the bottom of this post there's a hypertext link entitled "comments", or "no comments yet". Why don't you click on that and spill your guts? If you don't, who will? The Batswana? No, because those guys are busy building their own country. What if you sat down, took a piece of paper, wrote down your feelings, pro or con my feelings, stuck the paper in an envelope and sent it to the concerned Lesotho cabinet minister? You can get the address easily enough. What if you wrote to me and suggested ways of beating poverty, HIV, fear, starvation, underdevelopment, for me to post your ideas on this blog? Don't worry, you'd get full credit for your ideas. Or you'd get full anonymity, if you so desired. The main thing is I wouldn't steal your ideas, because I've enough of mine but no time to carry them all out.

Where are we headed? Wherever we're going, we will not get there unless all of us are pulling. The Kenyans call it Harambee. We're a team, remember?

Estelle MOUZIN, 9 ans, disparue le 09 janvier 2003 à Guermantes, France


On 9 January 2003, 9-year-old Estelle Mouzin was taken away from her family, as she returned from school, by a yet to be found child stealer. She has not been seen or heard from since. Visit the website, get a good look at Estelle, and give the URL [http://www.estelle-mouzin.com/] to someone you know. If you know of or have anything that could help, run to the nearest police station. Thank you.

Le 9 janvier 2003, Estelle Mouzin, une fillette de 9 ans, a été volé de sa famille, en rentrant de l'école, par une personne qui n'a pas encore été identifiée. Depuis, on a pas des nouvelles d'Estelle. Visitez le site web, regardez bien Estelle de façon à pouvoir la reconnaitre, et veuillez passez l'adresse du site [http://www.estelle-mouzin.com/] à quelq'un de votre entourage. Si vous savez ou possède une information quelconque, allez toute suite à votre préfecture. Merci.

Ka la 9 Pherekhong 2003, Estelle Mouzin ea nang le lilemo tse 9 o utsuitsoe ke lesholu la bana tseleng e tlohang sekolong ho leba lapeng la hae. Lesholu leo ha le eso fumanoe. Estelle le ena ha a eso fumanoe. Sheba foto ea Estelle ka hloko, Fana ka aterese [http://www.estelle-mouzin.com/] ena ho bao o ba tsebang. Kea leboha.

Friday

Peka High School, Box 17, Peka, Lesotho


Peka High School is to the north west of Lesotho, between the towns of Teyateyaneng and Maputsoe. It's a small, dusty place that is technically a town but is barely bigger than a big village. I went to high school at Peka and loved it. The establishment was self-sufficient, for all practical purposes. We produced our own electricity from an engine that was cranked up in the morning at about six and turned off at 10 p.m. At ten to ten at night there was what we called a warning, whereby the engine operator would just dim the lights two or three times to let us know that it was time to scurry off to bed.We had a kitchen with a dining hall, a library, two science laboratories, more than enough classrooms (some were even unused), a football field, a softball field, tennis courts and our very own water reservoir. One of the few shortcomings of the whole set-up, I'd say, was the fact that the loo was away and at some distance from the dormitories. It wasn't always easy to "hold it" till morning.

The first high school weeks are never easy, for that's when newcomers are given the treatment, or ill-treatment, depending on which side of the fear you are. All Lesotho high-schools dish out the same treatment/ill-treament, so there was no getting around it. Besides, my brother was already going to Peka, and Peka was run by the Lesotho Evangelical Church--my church. Going to a Catholic-run school was out of the question and bordered on blasphemy. It wasn't an option. In any case, Catholics initiated newcomers, too.

I don't really remember preparations for my first year of high school. Apprehension and fear of the unknown made sure that I would forever not remember those moments. In general, every student who goes to boarding school, which Peka was, takes along a pad-locked metallic trunk in which to put clothes, linen and any other personal belongings. The latter could be vinyl records and cassettes, novels, weapons--knives were popular--cigarettes, mofao (provisions) for those first days, a photo album, and so on. We always had to have mofao, and chicken was the overwhelming favourite. One could also take biscuits, soft-drinks, pastries, and any "goodies" worth sharing with friends. On the first day of my second year I lost the keys to my padlock.
__Has anyone seen my keys?

__Your keys! What do they look like?

__It's a bunch of keys on a bright-blue, glass keyholder.

   __Nah.

   __No, man.

   __Haven't seen 'em.

__Gosh, I need them to get my pyjamas out and brush my teeth!

__Well, maybe we can pick the lock, huh?

   __No time, it's almost twenty to ten, already.

   __C'mon, let's try. I think we should break the padlock, though. We don't have a choice.

I was watching them struggle with the padlock of my trunk and yank it this way, that way, hit it with a piece of metal to break it, when the lights suddenly dimmed, came back on, dimmed again, and came back on. The trunk just wouldn't get open. Some of my dorm-mates started moving off toward their beds, most of which were bunk-beds installed to gain space. I would have to sleep in my...huh?...wait a minute...hey, it's op-- And the lights dimmed for the last time, and told us we were being plunged into darkness. I caught a glimpse of the lid of my trunk being lifted open. But the last image before complete shutout, the one that usually gets printed on your retina on top of everything else and hence the one that stays with you longest, that last picture was of a chicken leg leaving my trunk, followed by another chicken leg, and by more hands diving in. Then nothing. After what seemed like a long moment, I used my hands to pat my way into my dishevelled trunk, found my greasy pair of pyjamas, managed to pull them on and slip into bed.

I wasn't sure I knew exactly what had happened, although I had a pretty good idea: mum's spicy chicken was gone. "What about the biscuits?" I wondered, almost aloud. I let out a tired sigh that had the effect of setting the whole dormitory ablaze with laughter. We laughed so hard I thought I had split something in my side. And the next day there was enough spicy chicken in the other trunks to go around for two or three days.

Peka was more than that, though. At Peka I learned how to sing mangae, those traditional Basotho songs that are being sung less and less because everyone is singing Madonna and New Kids On The Block, channel anger and frustration into words, disregard political affiliations to get at the truth beneath, face and talk to girls without necessarily getting sweaty hands, recognise and appreciate friends, be independent and live far away from home (which would come in handy during my refugee years). Peka is where I grew up and became me. Well, almost me, because I was soon going to experience things that would painfully hammer and chisel me into who I am today. But that's the subject of another post, perhaps.

Tuesday

Speaking English in Lesotho (Ho bua Senyesemane Lesotho)


As far as I can remember I've always spoken English. It is my second language that has now become my first. Sesotho has been dethroned and it doesn't look like there's anything it can do about it. I think that that is fundamentally wrong.

It is well and good to speak English, the business lingua franca of our times, or French, or Spanish, but up to a point. And as far as I'm concerned, that point does not go beyond burying one's own mother tongue. It does not include punishing school children when they communicate in their own mother tongue.

Yes, we were beaten up if we spoke Sesotho at school. The teacher or the principal would elect prefects, who went around with pen and paper writing down names of "wrong-doers." And those would duly get whipped, to the glee and mirth of the faultlessly English speaking clique.

I mean, holy +%#&, what the shite was that all about? You mean our teachers and parents and school system were happier when we spoke someone else's language better than our own? That's insane! I do not know how the system functions today but if our young country folk are still being terrorised in that fashion then the whole system needs to be chucked out the window and a new one designed.

The last thing we want is little Basotho-cum-Brits running around speaking in tongues and thinking that those tongues are better than their very own, and that those tongues give them some sort of edge over their other Basotho-cum-Basotho country folk who speak good Sesotho and poor English.

Don't get me wrong, I like English. It's a fun language. Through it I'm able to talk to millions (precisely what I'm trying to do at this very moment), but I like Sesotho more. (It's more fun and it sounds better and tones), and it is all mine! Nobody can say a word about how I pronounce it or don't pronounce it. And when I speak Sesotho, I feel whole and on a par with anybody else. I do think there are serious repercussions to forcing people to abandon their mother tongue or not to speak it as well as they should. Inferiority complex is one such repercussion. You're doing your darndest to speak someone else's language, but you'll always be a step or two behind in a meeting, at the restaurant during a heated discussion, at the job interview, and so on. And you know it. The crunch comes when you realise that you don't really master your mother tongue either.

Listen to anybody in Lesotho speak Sesotho and you'll soon realise that everybody is speaking a mixture of English and Sesotho and Afrikaans. I'm sure if ntate Moshoeshoe the First came back today he'd be stumped! He wouldn't know what the hell we were talking about.

SADC Says No to Commonwealth


Mopheme News: "SADC says 'NO' to Commonwealth"
Mugabe pulls out of the C/wealth
By Thabo Thakalekoala

Relations between the Commonwealth big brothers and their SADC counterparts within the organisation could sour following the recent withdrawal by Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth.

Mugabe has called on SADC to follow him and cut its relations with the Commonwealth following reports of the SADC leaders rallying in full house behind him.

The decision by the 54-member Commonwealth of Nations to uphold the suspension of Zimbabwe from all its councils taken at the recent Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Abuja, Nigeria saw Zimbabwe pulling out of the body and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) countries throwing their support behind Robert Mugabe and disagreeing with the decision to continue Zimbabwe's suspension.

The Prime Minister of Lesotho, Pakalitha Mosisili who is also the chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation issued a statement on behalf of SADC member countries shortly after the decision to uphold the suspension of Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth was announced.

"We, the SADC members of the Commonwealth supported by some members of the Commonwealth, wish to voice our strong disagreement with the decision not to allow Zimbabwe back into the councils of the Commonwealth as reflected in the Abuja CHOGM statement on Zimbabwe," said the statement.

Mosisili said SADC was concerned that the matter of Zimbabwe's participation in the 54-member club was prejudged, considering the pronouncements made by some member countries prior to the finalization of the matter.

"The decision will do nothing to assist the people of Zimbabwe overcome their present difficulties. As we warned, it has resulted in Zimbabwe withdrawing from the Commonwealth," he added.

Prime Minister Mosisili said the present situation in Zimbabwe called for engagement by the Commonwealth and not isolation and further punishment, and reaffirmed SADC's determination to continue to assist the people of Zimbabwe.

"We also wish to express our displeasure and deep concern with the dismissive, intolerant and rigid attitude displayed by some members of the Commonwealth during the deliberations. The Commonwealth has always operated on the basis of consensus. We fear that this attitude is destined to undermine the spirit that makes the Commonwealth a unique family of nations. This development does not augur well for the future of the Commonwealth," Mosisili concluded.

Announcing his decision to pull Zimbabwe out of the Commonwealth, Mugabe said: "Zimbabwe is for Zimbabweans. If the choice was for us to leave the Commonwealth, or be a member of the Commonwealth, let the Commonwealth go. It is just a club, and there are many other clubs we can join."

Monday

CIA --The World Factbook -- Lesotho


CIA -- The World Factbook -- Lesotho is an authoritative resource on Lesotho. At least everyone seems to quote it or refer to it. Type Lesotho in the Google search box and that's the first link of the list. But watch out for the mistakes, most of them harmless.
Basutoland was renamed the Kingdom of Lesotho upon independence from the UK in 1966 [--True]. King MOSHOESHOE was exiled in 1990 [--True, but his title was Moshoeshoe II]. Constitutional government was restored in 1993 after 23 years of military rule [--It wasn't military rule. There was a Prime Minister at the helm, and a full cabinet, and a bevy of village chiefs. The military was backing them up by force]. In 1998, violent protests and a military mutiny following a contentious election prompted a brief but bloody South African military intervention [--Actually South Africa and Botswana sent in troops]. Constitutional reforms have since restored political stability [--That's how it's looking so far. The battle is not even half won, though]; peaceful parliamentary elections were held in 2002 [--True].

Invasion of Lesotho (Khapo ea Lesotho)

I would recommend my readers to first go through Mr Jonathan Edelstein's article, because the present post was completely inspired by that article.

My initial purpose was only to report that SADC did, indeed, intervene in Lesotho in August 1998, because that fact does not appear in the above-mentioned article. I decided to elaborate when I saw (and remembered) the extent to which that intervention was labeled an invasion.

Words are strong, although that can depend on who is saying them, when they are being said or who is hearing them. In 1970 Leabua Jonathan, the then incumbent Prime-Minister of Lesotho, lost the election, suspended the constitution, declared a state of emergency, and threw anybody who said anything in jail. During the ensuing years of repression many boys, including my own brother, left the country to go and get military training. When these same boys started hitting installations, they were promptly called Likhukhuni by Radio Lesotho and all government statements. Sekhukhuni implies one who sneaks about in the dark, and is the equivalent of terrorist. And it was the ageless terrorist/freedom-fighter tug-of-war one more time.

One of the many reports about the intervention of SADC forces in Lesotho says that

The government of the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) was elected on May 23 after winning in 79 out of the 80 voting districts. But the voting arrangements were entirely under the control of the military and were obviously rigged. In August a recount of voting which had been demanded in 32 of the constituencies revealed a pattern of "ghost voting". About 2,000 ballot papers in each district had no authenticating mark of the voting officer at the polling booth. A previous investigation of a sample of six districts revealed irregularities with the dates of birth of voters, with eight times as many voters allegedly born on January 1 than on any other day of the year.


"But the voting arrangements were entirely under the control of the military and were obviously rigged."
As far as I know, the military has never been on the side of the LCD. It had always aligned itself with the BNP, Leabua Jonathan's Basotho National Party that had ruled Lesotho since independence in 1966. In fact, the whole mess was caused by the military trying to overthrow the LCD! The person who wrote that article obviously imagines that the army must always be on the side of the ruling party. If the military had rigged the ballots, it would have been to the disadvantage of the LCD.

I went to Lesotho in May 2000. Maseru was a ghost town. I had read about it and heard stories from friends and family. But it was creepy all the same. They had burned a whole town down in order to protest the outcome of an election that had been internationally supervised!

I went to Qoaling, my village on the outskirts of Maseru, and to the home where my family had been attacked in the middle of the night by Jonathan's men. I talked to people, friends, family friends. Nobody seemed to be against the presence of South-African and Botswana troops in Lesotho. In fact, most of them felt protected. They called the SADC pick-up trucks The Rusty Ones (Tse Mafome), due to their camouflage colour.

So, once again, one person's invasion has become another one's saving. I have already introduced the present government of Lesotho to you. It is an elected government. And so far it seems to be up in arms against the things that plague Basotho the most. But, if you haven't already done so, yell if you're unhappy about anything and don't let any of these people that you yourself elected sleep on the job. No, no, no. There is much too much to do.

Sunday

Gap and Lesotho


You might be wondering why most of the time the Blog*spot banner at the top of this page has a Baby Gap commercial (advert) that says something like: Baby Clothes from Gap.com - service.bfast.com
Popular clothing styles and sizes for all infants at BabyGap.com -aff
. If you click on the banner you are taken to the baby pages of Gap dot com. Well, the banner's up here because Lesotho does have relations with Gap. Gap runs sweat-shops in Lesotho and Basotho men and women and children sweat in them. A few people have been complaining about the particularly dreadful working conditions within those sweatshops, which is why Google robotically put two and two together and quickly hooked up Lesotho with Gaps.

200 people in more than 40 countries have given evidence of abusive working conditions in Gap sweat shops.

So there are voices speaking out against this extra injustice, but those voices largely go unheard. And what's more, it is oh so true that when a consumer has made his or her mind up about a product, few negative phenomena will change that mind.

So, rats to Gaps.

Friday

Corneille


Alors on vit chaque jour comme le dernier
So we live each day like it was the last
Et vous feriez pareil si seulement vous saviez
And you'd do the same if only you knew
Combien de fois la fin du monde nous a frôlés
How many times the end of the world almost hit us
Alors on vit chaque jour comme le dernier
So we live each day like it was the last
Parce qu'on vient de loin
Because we were already far gone

That's the chorus to Corneille's impressive song, Parce Qu'on Vient de Loin, literally, because we come from far. Corneille's family was murdered in Rwanda during that country's Reign of Madness. All of them. He survived by playing dead.

I like the guy's music, but I like it even more because of the reality in the meaning of his words, and because I realise that he might be using art to chase away the demons and get whole again, just like I'm trying to. So if some power-hungry thugs have fucked up your life by killing those you love, grieve--that's highly important--grieve, then grab a pen, a guitar, what have you, and live. Corneille did it. And so can we!

He says, Je dédie mon album à tous les gens qui se sentent oubliés par le reste du monde. J'ai réalisé à quel point le monde est injuste. Les médias ont parlé du génocide au Rwanda. Le plus gros génocide au monde après l'Holocauste. Mais ils ont bien plus parlé des évènements du 11 septembre. Différents gouvernements ont fourni des secours aux aEacute;tats-Unis. Des pays qui n'avaient pas réagi, en 1994, pendant le génocide rwandais. Mon album est la célébration de ma nouvelle vie. Une vie à laquelle les autres n'ont pas eu droit.

"I dedicate my album to all who feel neglected by the rest of the world. I've come to realise how unfair the world is. The media talked about the genocide in Rwanda. The biggest genocide in the world after the Holocaust. But they talked a lot more about the events of 11 September. Different governments provided help to the United States. Countries which had not done anything in 1994, during the Rwandan genocide. My album is the celebration of my new life. A life to which others were not given a right."

Three final points: One, the whole album is good to listen to. It's "smooth groove," if I had to define it. It's not a dirge, as one might expect. The prize, for me, is getting people to dance to death and grief. Corneille has succeeded just like Sylvia Plath in practising therapeutic art. Two, I have said before that

[ A political song might have an explicit message, but it is usually short, like “Free Him”, or “Down with Apartheid”, which we will then chant and sing as we dance, because the combination is important, from a Johannesburg picnic ground to a black church in Decatur Georgia. Pure singing isn't poetry. ]

I'm not about to change my mind. Corneille's album is superb in song and lyric. But singing, pure singing, is done by that person who can hum your soul to tears, happy or sad. I think Corneille can sing, because he chose the thornier path and he still comes out sounding good. That means a hell of a lot. And three, "Corneille, bravo. I personally find a lot of comfort and strength in your album. You've got quite a talent. When's the next album due?"