Geneva Convention Out the Window

"We invaded Iraq because of the weapons of mass destruction Saddam Hussein's followers used to torture people, and they were all evil, evil people, right? So someone... anyone... explain this [link to clock on] to me, because I'm just downright perplexed."
[ Read on... ]


Marty's Fade Out

Marty is going to Lesotho as a Peace Corps volunteer. He's got a blog up and running. Do give him a visit and leave some useful comments for him, if you will. Welcome to Lesotho, Marty.


Happy 10th, South Africa!

Ten years! Ten years of accomplishments and reconciliation and nation building. I wish all South Africans, and indeed all southern Africans, more of the same. I wish I could write an appropriate poem for the occassion.....

Lesotho's Peace (Khotso ea Lesotho)

"The prevailing peaceful atmosphere and stability in Lesotho after the 2002 general election is being recognized internationally, with not only the Commonwealth Secretary General, UN Secretary General and other heads of the UN's specialised agencies visiting the country but also heads of state such as the recent visit by Botswana President Festus Mogae.

In an official government statement after the recent visit to the country by President Mogae, the Prime Minister, Mr. Pakalitha Mosisili, said this year alone Lesotho has seen official visits by the Director General of UNESCO, the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy on the Humanitarian Crisis in Southern Africa as well as the UNICEF and UNAIDS Executive Directors, in addition to the heads of the UN and the Commonwealth.

The Prime Minister said another example that Lesotho's peace process is being noticed internationally is the fact that the country has been appointed to hold prominent positions globally, including the chairing of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.

Lesotho also chairs the SADC Parliamentary Forum, the SADC Executive Committee of Electoral Commissions Forum as well as Board of Directors of the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa and is also a member of the caucus of African Ministers of Education. In the newly formed African Union, Lesotho has been elected the first member of the Security Council while this country is president of the Executive Board of UNICEF.

Mr. Mosisili said these achievements by Lesotho are a sign that the country is on the right track. "We are also heading for our first Local Government elections and since Botswana is well ahead of us on this respect, we will consult them for our own benefit," he said.

Botswana has a strong and stable democracy as well as sound economic development from which Lesotho can benefit, the Prime Minister said, reminding the MPs as well as the nation that the two countries share similar language, culture and ethnic groupings such as Bataung, Bakuena and Bakhatla.

Mr. Mosisili expressed the country's gratitude to Botswana for contributing a lot in the processes towards achieving peace and stability processes in Lesotho since 1970. Botswana was at hand to assist as well during the political disturbances of 1994 and 1998."

[ Source... ]

The statement was made by the Prime Minister, ntate Pakalitha Mosisili, and appears on the Lesotho government website. Read it with those two facts in mind. On the other hand, there is no reason not to believe the statement in its entirety. Recently, the only news that has been coming out of Lesotho is good news, if you don't count the football losses to Botswana. Lesotho seems to be on the right road and, well, it's about time. What does being on the right road mean? It means we'll soon be able to feed ourselves, we'll soon end the poverty spiral, and we'll soon kick AIDS/HIV's butt. How we define the word "soon" is another matter entirely.


Fighting Bribery (Ntoa ea Tjotjo)

Carmel Rickard ponders Lesotho's actions to stamp out bribery, and draws some parallels with South Africa.
If Masupha Sole had worked for Pretoria rather than Maseru, would he have ended up in court? Would he now be in jail? And those powerful international companies who paid him so well - would they have been relentlessly investigated and prosecuted if they had bribed a senior South African official?
Okay, I am gloating a bit, but I don't get that many opportunities to do so! Rickard goes on to say that bribery has always been recognised as one of the enemies but nobody ever had the guts to fight it. "The court took the opportunity to speak strongly about corruption and to issue a challenge to the international community, whose members invariably do the bribing," Rickard says.
[ Read on... ]

Article about Dictionary

"A free Northern Sotho-English dictionary is now available on the internet, thanks to four people in Pretoria who are voluntarily giving their time and dipping into their own pockets to make it possible. The group responsible for the website said in a statement that its recent launch made this the first online African-language dictionary. The site includes a feedback form, inviting users to send comments and suggestion to the creators."

Of course we now know about the dictionary, which we've already mentioned several times in On Sesotho. Nevertheless, this article announcing its arrival is still worth a read. On Sesotho has recently mentioned another dictionary, this time downloadable and in relation with southern Sesotho. You can obtain it from Jako Olivier's rich site.

No Boundaries?

Southern African countries will attain freedom when all boundaries made by the colonialists are removed so that people can move freely among the countries without producing passports. This statement was made by Mosiuoa Lekota, South Africa's defence minister, during the Lesotho cleansing and healing ceremony held in Maseru for all refugees who were killed by the South African Defence Force (SADF), during the cross border raids of 1982 to 1984.
Huh? Did I hear right? Are our leaders seriously pondering this or is it just political talk? Only time will tell. But the prospect reminds me of Schengen, and it gives me hope. Hope that these imaginary lines drawn by foreign invaders for their own good and profit will eventually go. Hope that Basotho across the border may someday mingle freely with Basotho on this side of the border. And this goes for Batswana and Maswatsi as well. Hope that the healing is really beginning.
[ Read on... ]

Freedom Fighters Remembered

A ceremony to commemorate freedom fighters who died during the 1982 and 1985 raids by the South African Defence Force (SANDF) [sic] on Maseru started here [Maseru] on Friday.

Four cows and a bull were slaughtered as part as the ritual of cleansing and healing.

Bile, some parts of the intestines of the animals and a portion of their blood will be mixed with traditional herbs and medicines. After secret rituals have been performed by traditional healers, the mixture and a symbolic stone from Lesotho will be taken to Freedom Park in Pretoria.

The 1982 raid left 40 people dead. They were killed during a cross-border raid described by the then SADF Chief, General Constand Viljoen, as a pre-emptive strike aimed at 12 African National Congress targets in Upper Thamae on the outskirts of Maseru on December 9 1982. Another raid in 1985 left nine people dead.

'This is an important event in the lives of the of the two countries'
The cleansing and healing ceremony [sic] were organised jointly by the governments of Lesotho and South Africa and the Freedom Park Trust of South Africa.

Said the South African High Commissioner to Lesotho, William Lesley: "This is an important event in the lives of the of the two countries.

"For years we have been wanting to take to the world South Africa's gratitude for 10 years of democracy and freedom we are enjoying now."

The ceremony, attended by over 100 hundred 'lingaka' or traditional healers from Lesotho and South Africa, started with traditional prayers to God and ancestors to release the souls of the freedom fighters so that they could be taken to their final resting place.

As some of the traditional healers recited the prayers, others softly sang traditional religious songs accompanied by the beating of drums.
[ Source... ]


Dorothy says...

"Dotty has been assigned to the township of Mafeteng, in Lesotho. We've not heard much news from her lately, but she has a semi-permanent address to send mail now."

I don't know who Dotty (Dorothy) is, nor what exactly she is doing in Lesotho. But she knows how to take pictures. The one above is hers, not mine. Every right on it belongs to her. My heading is Dorothy says. What does she say? She says
My life here in Lesotho is rewarding and exciting - I meet new people all the time, and there are many opportunities to be of help here. Before Christmas, we organized new clothes for 271 orphans in our area. Before that, I helped with food parcel distribution, and home visits to sick ones. There are some serious Public Health issues in our town that I am addressing, such as running sewage. Today I found another running sewer cap. Just to FIND the right person who can help is virtually impossible.
That conical hill in the picture is named Qiloane, and legend holds that the shape of Mokorotlo, the Basotho hat, was inspired by it. Maybe it was. Today Mokorotlo is the national symbol of Lesotho and is practically everywhere. You can find out more information about Mokorotlo here.

Mzansi Afrika Says...

Mzansi Afrika tells us of cross-border, Lesotho/South-Africa celebrations on the occassion of the latter's 10 years of democracy. The Maseru bridge will apparently be closed since the party will symbolically be going on on both sides. Why there? Well, Lesotho did play a role "during the liberation struggle to make South Africa the democratic country it is today." And so did other states, I would say. But then maybe their bridges too are gonna be the scene of anniversary celebrations.

Lesotho was struck in
1982, xx xxx South African army raids Maseru, Lesotho, killing 42 people. [...] 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,
and again in "1985, xx xxx Another raid on Lesotho is followed by a coup. Jonathan Leabua's administration falls." [ Source ]

Yes, those days were hard, and people died meaninglessly. But there's an even greater contribution, in my view. Leabua Jonathan, the first Lesotho PM following independence, was practically kept in the seat of power by the south African apparatus. You see, he ruled from independence in 1966 till 1970, when he lost the election. He decided to suspend the constitution and go on a killing and torturing spree, the victims being at once opponents to his government and the legitimate government. South Africa liked Jonathan because he was a git, and so they propped him up and helped him stay in power...until he went bad and started being pals with the likes of Castro in Cuba and Kim in North Korea. That's when the honeymoon ended and Jonathan started going down. But not before he had ruined and devastated the country, killed or chased away a lot of Basotho, and driven into the ground any entrepreuneurial strength our young country might have had.

That is the bigger sacrifice that I hope is also going to be remembered. A destroyed country, killings of the innocent, even 3-year-olds, and lives spent in exile.


ANC Victory: Opinions

What does the world think about the ANC victory? What do South Africans themselves think? The BBC has a Have Your Say page that harvests comments and opinions from all over the world. It's amusing, and not at all informative.
[ Read on... ]


There are many people from all corners of the world, and from all walks of life, who end up in poorer countries to teach or to preach. I wish all of them had a web presence so that others could find out the needs of these poorer countries right from the horse's mouth. On their website, Don and Donna Hanford say that
The goal is to raise sufficient funds to send a sincere dedicated couple to the Leribe district of Lesotho, Southern Africa to aid the staff at the Catholic Technical School of Leribe to develop and implement an Information Technology department. Financial support for this project will be based on "doing what is right when no one is looking." It will not be income tax deductible and other than the people in Lesotho who are helped very few people will know about it.
Don and Donna spent two years in Lesotho with the U.S. Peace Corps, and worked at the Catholic Technical School of Leribe, teaching various disciplines, including management techniques, computer technology and computer literacy. If you know of other Peace Corps or volunteer or just Lesothophile websites, please let me know so that I may speak about them in these pages.
[ Visit Don and Donna's site... ]



Plus Fodder, whom you must absolutely check out.
UPDATE: Plus Wild South.


On Lesotho gets a mention at Commentary.Co.Za, another southern African blog. Mzanzi Afrika and Cherryflava also get a plug. We're a growing family, by Jove!

And there are more of us than that:
Southern Cross
Way South
Darkie's Place


Professor Kim's News Notes

On Lesotho gets a mention in Professor Kim's News Notes in relation with homophobia in Africa.

No to 'Pink' Money

The gathering of Anglican authorities in Kenya that On Lesotho spoke about on 15 April 2004, has decided to reject funds coming from U.S. churches that ordain gay priests.
[ Read on... ]


Many Ways to Skin a Cat

I had to share this find. I recently purchased a high-quality computer sleeve from a small boutique manufacturer. I was checking if it could be washed. The photo is the attached tag with the washing instructions in both English and French. The English is exactly what you would expect and so is the French, for the first 6 lines. The last three lines of French are most interesting. "We are sorry that our President is an idiot. We didn't vote for him." [Nous sommes désolés que notre président soit un idiot. Nous n'avons pas voté pour lui.] Given recent strained relations between our two countries [France and America], it's good to see that not all Americans agree with the current administration [See image and read on].
I find this one of the most brilliant ways of political fighting. It is subtle, gets the message across, relies mostly on one person telling another (trust in the popularity of the message) without the use of big bucks on advertising, and is amusing. That, to me, is how an effective political message should be. But not everyone can use methods such as this one. In Zimbabwe they'd shut down your shop before you could say RobertMugabeRhodesiaIanSmith. And in Lesotho? Can such a tactic go unpunished? Most probably, yes, seeing as how the government is legitimate and has so far been open and transparent.


Mogae's Speeches in Lesotho

Whenever I hear our leaders talking about "we've got to do this and we must do that," my first reaction is, "Great, but how?" My determination is fueled by the presence of proposals for action, and even more by the action itself. Botswana's President Mogae is in Lesotho, and he has been addressing the country's political bodies. IOL says
Given the small size of the economies of the southern African states, Mogae said it was imperative the states worked together as members of the newly structured Southern African Customs Union (SACU) to ensure better access to global markets.
He said many other meaningful things, things that I enjoyed hearing, but when's the when? I think most of us have got our sleeves rolled back and our spades in our hands. We have kind of pinned down the "how" of it. We're itching to get into the "when."


A Real Woman

Mama Sasa of Lesotho reportedly takes care of 27 AIDS-inflected children and adults. That means housing them and feeding them and caring for the weak among them. Wow.

Zanzibar Against Homosexual Acts

Zanzibar, a popular holiday destination off the coast of East Africa, has decided to outlaw gay and lesbian acts. What in the world for? The bill was reportedly backed by both the ruling party, Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), and the Civic United Front (CUF), one of the rare occassions the two have agreed on anything. What the hell for? It is a mystery to me why a democratic country may want to slap a 7-year jail-term, or any jail-term, on "those in lesbian relationships." It is utterly preposterous and is an example of what slows down Africa's democratic upswing.
[ Read on... ]

Anglican bishops in Africa have also decided to jump on the anti-homosexual bandwagon. They are holding a meeting in Kenya to decide whether to continue accepting money from occidental churches that ordain gay bishops. Nigeria's Archbishop Peter Akinola contends that the ordination of gay bishops is a Satanic attack on the church. Whoa! On what grounds is this contention based? Unhappily, neither the archbishop nor other attendees of the meeting tell us.
[ Read on... ]

Central to the question may be the debate on whether homosexuality is genetic or learned. Searching for and perhaps finding homosexual genes may, indeed, help some people accept homosexuality. That's the Aha-It-May-Be-Natural-After-All school of thought. But it's just another cover-up for flawed thinking and intrinsic bigotry, just as the whole debacle is often a cover-up and a hiding place for crimes committed by despots.

I haven't been able to find legal mention concerning homosexuality in Lesotho law. Across the continent, it is generally illegal for gay men in 29 countries and for lesbian women in 20 countries. There are nine countries in Africa where the guys running the show think it's a bad idea for men to make out, but a great idea for women to make out. Go figure.


Moving Image

A Mosaic of President GWB's face made up of pictures of soldiers who have died in Iraq. The title is right.
[ Via Photo Matt ]


Scott Rosenberg's Study

Scott Rosenberg says, "My main area of concentration was southern Africa and my dissertation explored the development of a national identity in Lesotho as a response to the threat of incorporation into South Africa. My current research examines the impact of Post-Apartheid South Africa and western popular culture on youth culture and identity in Lesotho."

Cheers to SA democracy

To South Africans: I'm really happy for you, and at the prospect of similar success for all southern Africans, about what is taking place in your country.


Africa a Waste Dump?

The East African Standard has an editorial cartoon that says the Occident uses Africa as a waste dump. We're all aware of intellectual and spiritual trash that is sent our way. Is there any dumping of physical garbage in Africa? The cartoon suggests toxic waste, GM foods, obsolete drugs, and others. Are GM foods a boon or a curse for poor countries?

Botswana's Mogae to Visit Lesotho

President Festus Mogae of Botswana is going on a state visit to Lesotho. I don't know much about President Mogae, and I don't know what he and Prime Minister Mosisili are going to talk about. Nevertheless, what they should talk about, among other things, is poverty-reduction on a southern African scale (SADC countries). We need to be less poor, and we need it bad, and we need it today. Once we're less poor, we can then point all our guns at HIV/AIDS and blow it to smithereens.
[ Read on... ]

Lesotho Media: Free From State Harassment

The media in Lesotho is considered relatively free from direct government harassment, threats, assassinations, restrictive legislation, censorship and expulsion, a media law audit has revealed. The research, aimed at reviewing laws that restrict the media freedom in Lesotho, shows however that despite their freedom, the media failed to exploit its relatively positive working environment through its lack of professionalism, the Lesotho News Agency (LENA) reports.
[ Read on... ]
I couldn't agree more. Lesotho journalism might be free from government meddling, but then Lesotho journalism is practically non-existent. I do not mean to speak negatively about the men and women who are diligently doing their journalistic work; that such people are few, however, remains a fact. Our modern era has bestowed on us innumerable tools that facilitate the work of the information giver as well as the information receiver. When I was a child I read days-old newspapers: I rarely had the priviledge of reading a same-day issue of the Rand Daily Mail, although we did get the Sunday Times on Sunday. My point is that today we have tools that allow me to read same-hour, breaking news from Swaziland, Sweden and Switzerland. There is no excuse for not getting the information out to the people early enough and often enough. This very weblog you're reading is an example of just such a tool. For almost zero lisente I can write and publish and be read within the half-hour.

Yet Lesotho on-line news providers are constantly off-line. I've just about given up on trying to get "news" from them, and I'm wondering whether I shouldn't remove their links from my weblogs. I used to regularly click on Mopheme's link, but it's been dead for longer than I care to remember. Then there's the Public Eye. The link works, but the news is stale. How stale? Four years. Even the Lesotho News Agency site has stale news. Sometimes you see news from March 4, or any other date, and wonder what year that was. We know LENA report, because the piece I've quote above is from them. But where do they report? How can the person in the street get fresh Lesotho news from Lesotho news providers?

The news I get from AllAfrica is neither detailed nor relevant enough. I want to know how the Qoaling constituency did in a given election, how the Maseru City Council intends to get rid of garbage and filth in our streets, whether the government is going to make condoms available for free to the general public, and so on. The BBC and AllAfrica don't tell me that. I was hoping LENA and the other electronic papers would. Although On Lesotho is a personal weblog, initially with personal objectives and run by personal effort and conviction, although the initial format was based on taking a contentious or important issue and commenting on it, with a large dose of objectivity and a smaller one of subjectivity, although these were the initial intentions, I've recently watched myself publish news without commenting on it, simply because it was important for Lesotho and the world would have a hard time finding it out.


Lesotho Diplomatic Mission in Paris?

Lesotho has no diplomatic representation in France. All diplomatic activity both for the government and for Basotho in or going through France was coordinated through the embassy in Bonn, Germany. But that seems to have been taken care of, at last.
King Letsie III has announced that the government of Lesotho has decided to open a new diplomatic mission in Paris, France. Accepting the letters through which Ambassador Jean Felix-Paganon has been accredited to Lesotho in Maseru on May 25, the King said this was in recognition of the excellent relations existing between the two countries. It is believed that with Lesotho having a resident representative in France, cooperation will be enhanced.
I had often been asked why there were no diplomatic relations between Lesotho and France. My answer was always two-fold: One, Lesotho and France have historically enjoyed relations through the church, then and today, and that requires no official exchange of emissaries; and two, France may not have sent anyone to Lesotho, but Lesotho has sent me to France, hasn't it?
[ Read on... ]


Sangomas (Witch-Doctors)

Here's an excerpt from SINGING AWAY THE HUNGER by Mpho Matsepo Nthunya. Enjoy it. And get the book.....'ll be getting a very good read but you'll also be helping the fight against HIV/AIDS in Lesotho.


Talking About Tourism

The Lesotho High Commission in London has good and relevant information for the potential traveller to Lesotho, unlike the website of the Lesotho Tourism Board which, by right, ought to be the reference on the subject. Upon closer inspection, however, one realises that the High Commission links lead to the tourism pages of the government website. Still...


Where Did We Go Wrong?

HISTORY AND GOVERNMENT Basutoland (now Lesotho) was sparsely populated by the nomadic Khoisan ("bushmen") until the end of the 16th century. Between the 16th and 19th centuries, refugees from surrounding areas gradually formed the Basotho (Bah-SOO-too) ethnic group. In 1818, the legendary statesman Moshoeshoe I (moh-SHWAY-shway) consolidated these Basotho groupings and became their king. Basing his people on a high plateau, Moshoeshoe built a strong following while simultaneously defending his kingdom from a variety of invaders. Gradually, this nation of cattle herders spread outward to incorporate fertile plains that today form part of South Africa's Orange Free State. Clashes with white Boer settlers, emigrating from the Cape of South Africa, led to loss of these lands. Once again, the Basotho nation was relegated to the mountain regions. Against continued threats, Moshoeshoe I appealed to Queen Victoria for assistance. In 1868, the country was placed under British protection. This arrangement set the Basotho nation on a political course separate from surrounding territories, which eventually united as the nation of South Africa in 1909. Basutoland began to move toward independent sovereignty in the 1950s. In 1955, the Basutoland Council asked that it be empowered to legislate on internal affairs and in 1959, a new constitution gave Basutoland its first elected legislature. General elections with universal adult suffrage were held in April 1965, with several political parties represented. On October 4, 1966, the new Kingdom of Lesotho attained full independence as a constitutional monarchy with an elected bicameral parliament. As with many new nations, Lesotho's first steps as an independent democracy were faltering ones. After national elections in 1970 indicated a loss to the ruling political party, the Lesotho parliament was dissolved and a new pro-government national assembly instituted. Opposition to the ruling regime led to internal disorder.
[ Read on... ]

Bingo! That is where we fucked up. As far as I can remember, we were on this nice, hopeful path toward country-hood when WHAM! A lot of people were suddenly arrested because they voiced disagreement with a dictator. Many more were tortured. And some were later assassinated or nearly assassinated. That has to be the period during which we screwed up. But how can we pick things up from that time and continue as if nothing of the kind had happened?

We cannot. The situation is far too different today, and it calls for sacrifice and guts, from both the government and the populace. The going is hard, but what else is there? We have to advance. And today our enemies have odd names, like HIV/AIDS, poverty and corruption. A spear doesn't kill them, like it used to kill our other, flesh-and-blood enemies. We have to find other ways of killing today's enemies, other weapons. These new weapons have strange names, too, like condom, voting, and patriotism. Not nationalism. Patriotism. I think what we did back in 1970 really did us in. We fucked up, and nobody can snap their fingers for us to unfuck-up. We have got to do it ourselves, on this day and in our lifetime, or perish.


I'm Siiiiiiiinging in the Drought

The people in Lesotho can sing from birth and can sing in harmony. It's the most wonderful sound. There's singing going on at every occasion, there's singing all the time. [ Read on... ]

Lesotho Diamonds in the News

Dublin-based African Diamonds has reported sustained and concentrated activity on a number of its projects. The company is active in Botswana, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Lesotho, and within weeks expects to produce diamonds from its pilot mine in Koidu, Sierra Leone, to be followed by production in the Kolo, Lesotho project.


In Lesotho, the company is at the final permit stage of its 55%-owned Kolo project. If the permits arrive, it will complete the refurbishment of the existing plant by end June, and will commence a 30,000-tonne trial mining project. Lesotho is experiencing a major revival in diamond mining with the opening of three new mines.


[ Read on... ]