Monday

Anthem Verse 4, Stanza 1: Ke moo re holileng

Lesotho, fat'se la bo-ntat'a rona,
Har'a mafat'se le letle ke lona
Ke moo re hlahileng,
Ke moo re holileng.

Verse 4 is in a way a continuation of verse 3. "Ke moo re holileng": It is where we grew up. I personally grew up and became a responsible and conscious human being outside Lesotho. But I don't suppose that's what the lyrics relate to, since they are more figurative than cartesian. I believe that a good number of Basotho teenagers either left of their own desire or were driven out1. Either way they, just like me, grew up outside Lesotho. So what does the verse mean, then?

As far as I'm concerned, it is true that the most visible part of my growing up happened in exile, which means my voice deepened, I grew a beard, I almost doubled the size of my shoes, I got sloshed for the first time, and I became a hopeless fan of woman. But almost every seed was planted, and the seed-bed itself was, in Lesotho. That's where I first met hope, felt the joy of belonging, faced desperation, knew fear, and touched compassion. Seeds.

Perhaps things like these happen in other places, too. But my own seed-bed was no doubt Lesotho, so in essence that's where I grew up2.
Mum and I were driving north up Kingsway, toward home, having packed the blue Datsun pickup van with stock for the family shop. I glanced at the clock. Maseru was unusually deserted for six p.m. Perhaps there was a curfew that we hadn't heard about. Or perhaps it was due to the unfriendly looking clouds, stationed across the skyline as far as I could see.

--"It's going to rain...," I must have thought aloud.
--"What?"
--"Ah, it looks like it's going to rain," I said.
--"Don't worry. We will have long finished unloading when the first drops come."
--"I sure hope so."

We drove past the bakery on the left and the new shopping centre on the right. There was hardly anybody even there! We zoomed past the hardware store where a woman was sitted in front on the pavement with small mounds of potatoes for sale, and headed for Mafafa and the Cathedral Roundabout. And Mum jumped on the brakes and brought the Datsun to a noisy stop, and me out my dreamy stupor. She was looking at me, or rather through me at something I could not comprehend. It was my turn to say what.

--"What?"

She stopped looking at whatever it was in me or behind me, dipped her hand into her purse and gave me a zoka, a five-cent coin.

--"Get me some potatoes with this."

For some reason I just took the money and got the potatoes, two mounds, without bringing it to her attention that we had several sacks of the stuff in the van. I did ask her a day or two later, because I was genuinely intrigued. And her answer placed me a step further on my way to becoming a responsible and conscious adult, without actually growing an inch3.
So, yes, in my case, and I suspect in many other cases, I did grow in Lesotho, although I physically grew up elsewhere. And I suspect this of any place that has such a mixture of seed-bed and seed. If the English language does not already have a proverb or adage about suffering and suddenly becoming a model earthling, then I'll just have to invent one.

1 There is no more driving out of Basotho. That nasty bit of our history petered out with the first democratically elected government.
2 I'm not suggesting any correlation between this verse and how Basotho children are brought up or grow up. I just happen to believe that I actually grew up in Lesotho, although puberty came afterwards.
3 It is a true story, if you were wondering.