The Toronto Blizzards and the Atlanta Chiefs were famous North American soccer teams. Canada paired with blizzards makes sense, and so does Atlanta paired with chiefs. There can be all sorts of teams but the most common trait among them, the one factor that will distinguish a team from something else, is Harambee, which is Swahili for pulling together. A group of people, no matter how dedicated they are, is not a team if they do not pull together. The effect of not pulling together is equivalent to having one member of a tug-of-war team pushing, or one member of a soccer team kicking the ball between his or her own goalposts.
Team-mate is another interesting word. Team-mates should get along, although that is optional. They must also strive toward a common outcome. Such an outcome can be scoring more goals than the opponent (Likoena of Lesotho), having more touch downs (San Francisco 49ers of America), making loads of money (a corporate team of the planet Earth), beating back starvation and illiteracy and political violence (Government of Lesotho).
Ladies and gentlemen, here is the Government of Lesotho. It is our team against misery and fear. We chose it! For the first time ever, Lesotho's team against misery was chosen by the people and is seemingly liked by the people and appears to me to be a winner. Of course, when things go awry we always single out and punish somebody, usually the coach. Or the goal-keeper. Or hooligans. Yes, the fans or supporters are part of the team. That makes you and I and other people who like Lesotho part of the team. Hooligans! Uh-huh. Not us.
We're not hooligans, we work with the team. I've previously suggested ways of working with the team (Another post is here). I'm not going to re-list them here. But I feel I must mention what I call pot-clanging again. We must clang those pots if we want to be heard. Just like fans roar the stadium down, we must cheer and boo our team and egg it on. And this is how we can do it:
- Contact your village chief or the ministry involved and tell them what you're so unhappy about. You can get ministers' details, ie phone number, fax number and postal address quite easily. On http://www.lesotho.gov.ls/cabinet/gcabinet.htm, clicking on the name takes you to a page that has the information. So what's to stop you? Nobody is going to come after you. We're a team, remember? And we chose these players ourselves, and they've proven to us that they are not the trigger-happy kind. So what's to stop you? You've got rights, as does everybody else. Read the constitution. You'll be amazed at how much you're entitled to, and at the yawning gap between what you're entitled to and what you're actually getting. My favourite is
[ CHAPTER III PRINCIPLES OF STATE POLICY -- 26. Equality and justice -- (2) In particular, the State shall take appropriate measures in order to promote equality of opportunity for the disadvantaged groups in the society to enable them to participate fully in all spheres of public life. ]
- Vote. For Christ's sake, vote. That is perhaps the loudest clanging you can make. And what is good is that it is the one that influences our team the most. Going to the polls and dropping that slip of paper through the slit into the urn is a gigantic right. It is one that we must cherish and use wisely, because it is also one that is hardest to obtain. Lives have been lost, blood has been spilt, in getting that right. Vote. Vote with a conscience. Vote for peace and prosperity. Do not vote for a face, or for blood, or for friendship. Vote for Lesotho, but vote. Too often, those who have something tend to minimise it. Parisians don't give a damn about the Eiffel Tower. They prefer a small bistro in a back street where they can have their Beaujolais in peace. But there's no Eiffel Tower in Tokyo, you see. So the Japanese come all the way from the Far East just to be able to stare at and take snaps of a heap of iron. Voting is the same. Those who have always been able to vote prefer to go to a soccer match on election day, but well, hell, we must'nt. We can't. We must vote.
- Talk about it. "It" refers to everything. Talk about the constitution, talk politics, talk about the past. In my view the past is going to come back to haunt us unless we talk freely about who killed who and for what godawful reason. I'm talking about dialogue between citizens, neighbours, friends (the supporters), the government (the team), king Letsie III (the coach) and our friends (the sponsors) all over the world. Read, learn, discuss, analyse. I've tried many times to get Radio Lesotho online but to no avail. Now that would be one fast way of getting news around the world.
So, world, here is our team, for better or for worse. It is our best foot forward thus far. With this team we're ready to take on everything that is fucking life up for the Basotho people. With this team we're not interested in petty politics and in personal gain (?!), but in big-time politics and national gain. To the team, I feel I must say,
[ you are it. Our A-team. The proverbial buck stops with you. We're looking at you. We chose you. You will not let us down. And you will do everything in your power to fulfill the promise, as it is embodied in the National Vision, that you made to the Basotho people. And give us those e-mail addresses so we can clang our pots more easily and more efficiently. Phone numbers are nice, but you probably know how hard it is to go past all the blockades before reaching you. ]
As a member of the fan club, I'd like all the other members to know that
[ this isn't going to work without our input. No input, no outcome. Now, you know what to do because you are intelligent and dedicated. And I'm sure that like me you are sick and tired of bad politics. You realise that we can beat poverty and illiteracy and fear. So do let's. ]
THIS POST APPEARED HERE IN DECEMBER 2003