Sunday

Re: Thuto

On Tuesday, 3 February 2004 I said, with minor differences, that "We can go ahead and boast to the world that we have pretty good education, despite the odds, because we do, thanks to ntate Moshoeshoe I. What did he do? He welcomed Casalis and his pals and told them to go ahead and teach his people "the ways of the white man," or something to that effect. They translated the Bible into Sesotho, taught Basotho how to scribble on slate to represent their language, printed books, and so on. Later, other missionaries would come over to help the original ones, and Lesotho was off as one of the busiest southern African educational hubs. The protestants worked out of Morija, the catholics out of Roma.

Our government tells us that it, the government, is continuing and will continue that tradition. I hope they're not forcing our children to hate their mother tongue! The result of doing so can be beneficial in many ways, but, hey, I write poetry in English and am conspicuously unable to do so in Sesotho. I don't like that a whole lot and I think it's a shame. There must be some sort of compromise between the two languages. I also hope that children are not forced to say the Lord's Prayer every morning. I'm a Christian who believes in God and in Jesus Christ. But I respect those who believe, well, in God and in the teachings of another figure, Buddha, the prophet Mohamed, Bahá'u'lláh, or another. I imagine myself, a Christian, having to say another faith's prayer every morning. The effect of that would be to make me wary of the religion whose rites I'm being forced to observe, but also to make me hate school. School is for education, the church is for religion, the home is for both those things and more. Full stop. If children are still being forced to say the Lord's Prayer, then the government must seriously consider stopping the practice immediately, and starting the hunt for an alternative. Lesotho is not a theocracy. It is a democracy. And all, all of its citizens must be made to feel at home and free to be who they are and to worship in their own way. The government of Lesotho says,
Through the provision of quality primary education, Lesotho is intent on improving the low level of skills of persons entering the workforce each year. The current primary school curriculum is being revised and reviewed and practical orientation in the teaching of core subjects is encouraged. Education is compulsory between the ages of 6 and 13, with fee elimination to be implemented in phases, starting with Standard One at the beginning of school terms in 2000. The government also intends to pilot a scholarship programme for children from needy families.
How well is that being adhered to? What phase have we reached? I think it was a marvellous thing to undertake in the first place. It will in the long run eliminate the fiduciary advantage some Basotho had over others from birth to death. It will tend to give us a semblance of an equal footing, so that the best person moves forward in life, instead of it being only the rich one. So, how well is that being adhered to?

I can't sign off without saying, in very clear terms, that I love my people, my country and my language, and that I'm a firm believer in the teachings of Jesus Christ. But what we must not forget is that a citizen of Chritian belief or Islamic belief, or a citizen of another religion, probably has the same convictions about his or her religious beliefs as the ones I declare. And what are we to do, then? Disregard that fact, just because we may be in the majority? No. No way. Not today. Lesotho is a democracy, not a theocracy. And we're all pulling this load together toward a common, national goal of No Hunger, No Poverty, No AIDS, No Discrimination."