photo of person from Lesotho the maluti mountains
culture and customs
employment and income
social institutions
social relationships

environmental knowledge
family life
justice and crime
livelihood strategies
social change
spiritual beliefs

introducing the area

community activities

 quotes about community activities
 key testimonies featuring community activities

gorup of people in LesothoLetsema (plural matsema) is the practice of people coming together to work collectively to complete some task; in return for this assistance, the person who has called for it is expected to provide food for everyone. It appears that in previous times there was a great deal of communal work, and a few narrators talk as if it is still usual. However, people are becoming more inclined towards waged labour (sekoropo). One narrator (Lesotho 21) explains "There are no matsema, not unless you can organise sekoropo. But letsema is still there if they want to help you, but they won't come, like they used to...". Another describes how he pays people to do piece work for weeding and harvesting because he cannot manage it all on his own. Despite the fact he pays for this work he still refers to it as letsema.

People still do letsema at weddings and at the time of someone's death, when it is called ho hata maoto. Women apparently perform letsema for tasks such as hoeing and one narrator describes how women of the village recently came to his aid and helped to gather firewood for his family because of his wife's illness. Two narrators mention that communal help between villages sometimes takes place.

Burial societies are the main collective organisation (see Social institutions). At the times of someone's death, burial is not the responsibility of the family alone; the chief gives guidance to others in the community who collectively carry out the task.

quotes about community activities

"We live well together [with other villages in this area], we still help one another, they always come to help us with hoeing. A person would leave her home area and come and help me hoe like that. Well, when I harvest I would also see as to what I can give her. I am still expecting [such help] can happen, but now I no longer have trust that they shall happen. ... I am going to people whom I do not know, whom I am not used to, now I do not know how we shall [behave] to one another [when we are resettled]."
'Malibuseng Mosotho, F/32, Lesotho 9

"There at so and so's field, we are going to ho hata maoto... Yes, this thing of ho hata maoto when a person has died, people will go to that field, whether it will be with four of five spans of cattle, it does not matter. They will go there and plough that field until they have ploughed the whole field that day. Food will be cooked for that field, and it will be eaten right there at the field until it is finished."
'Maseipati, F/elderly, Lesotho 12

key testimonies featuring community activities

  No.   Name   Sex/Age   Occupation   Location  
Summary Transcript   1   Lipholo   male/67   farmer/basketmaker   Molika-liko  
Summary Transcript   14   Mohlominyane   male/61   farmer/village headman   Maetsisa  
Summary Transcript   14B   Mohlominyane   male/61   farmer/village headman   Maetsisa  
Summary Transcript   15   Tsatsi   male/70s   farmer   Maetsisa  
Summary Transcript   19   Nathnael   male/61   farmer   Molika-liko  
Summary Transcript   21   íMepa   male/50s   farmer/chief   Molika-liko  
Summary Transcript   22   Mamookho   female/30s   farmer/garment maker   Ha Koporale  
Summary Transcript   23   íManthatisi   female/38   farmer   Ha Koporala  
Summary Transcript   3   Makibinyane   male/40s   farmer   Molika-liko  
Summary Transcript   4   Tekenyane   male/74   farmer   Molika-liko  
Summary Transcript   6   Lebeko, and   male and female/L   chief and chieftainess   Ha Tsapane  
Summary Transcript   7   Tlali   male/elderly   farmer   Ha Tsapane  
Summary Transcript   9   íMalibuseng   female/32   farmer   Ha Tsapane