photo of person from Lesotho the maluti mountains
family life
social institutions
social relationships
spiritual beliefs

community activities
culture and customs
employment and income
environmental knowledge
justice and crime
livelihood strategies

introducing the area

social change

 quotes about social change
 key testimonies featuring social change

man from LesothoAlthough residents view their imminent removal as something that is likely to undermine, if not destroy, their age-old customs and traditions, it is clear that some significant changes in the life of the community have already taken place. In the words of one narrator: "those traditions which are practised now are few and they are practised differently." The scale of male migration for work must have had considerable social impact, with women taking on greater responsibilities and making more decisions. Now work in the mines has dried up and the men have returned home on a permanent basis, with further social as well as economic reverberations, although this is not explicitly discussed.

There is, however, a tendency for older narrators to say how much better life was in the past, predominantly in relation to law and order, and gender issues: women used to obey their husbands, and chiefs issued beatings to people which kept everybody in order. Today, it is said, people fight, children disobey their parents, and wives challenge their husbands. Some blame increased drinking for this, and claim commercial beer makes people drunk and quarrelsome as opposed to the locally brewed beer which made people "fat and happy".

Indeed, increasing exposure to commercialisation is perceived as a powerful force for change. Many narrators describe how initiation has become a commercial venture from which the teacher is the main beneficiary (see especially Lesotho 15). Previously initiation taught young people to respect others, something now seen to be lacking. Many parents are no longer in favour of sending their children to the initiation school, preferring them to attend church schools.

Nevertheless, the highlanders are seen as less touched by social change than those in lowland urban areas. One young woman (Lesotho 5) who lives in a village that will receive resettled people expresses the hope that they will bring back "olden, traditional" values to her village. She sees the erosion of the traditional Basotho lifestyle, such as changes in dress, as a matter of regret, and attributes it to the fact that "people have opted to live like white people" because they no longer have faith in themselves.

The planned follow-up collection of interviews with narrators post-relocation should shed some light on the extent to which resettlement has caused or exacerbated social change.

quotes about social change

"I think we have wronged our God somewhere, through our deeds on earth, because we do too many wrong things. We are jealous of one another. We don't love each other any more. Also there is [no] more respect. Before, any parent would scold any child in the village if they see them doing wrong. These days we hate each other and one cannot do that."
Tekenyane, M/74, Lesotho 4

"None of them respect elderly people. Their life is far different from ours. They do not even try to resemble our lifestyle. Anyway, maybe generations differ because even our parents used to complain that our lifestyle did not resemble theirs."
Mampaleng, F/78, Lesotho 26

key testimonies featuring social change

  No.   Name   Sex/Age   Occupation   Location  
Summary Transcript   1   Lipholo   male/67   farmer/basketmaker   Molika-liko  
Summary Transcript   11   Mokete   male/64   farmer   Ha Ralifate  
Summary Transcript   14   Mohlominyane   male/61   farmer/village headman   Maetsisa  
Summary Transcript   15   Tsatsi   male/70s   farmer   Maetsisa  
Summary Transcript   16   Moleleki   male/41   farmer   Maetsisa  
Summary Transcript   18   Mathabo   female/48   farmer   Molika-liko  
Summary Transcript   22   Mamookho   female/30s   farmer/garment maker   Ha Koporale  
Summary Transcript   23   íManthatisi   female/38   farmer   Ha Koporala  
Summary Transcript   4   Tekenyane   male/74   farmer   Molika-liko  
Summary Transcript   5   Matefo   female/19   farmer   Ha Ntsi  
Summary Transcript   8   Laurent   male/47   farmer   Maetsisa  
Summary Transcript   9   íMalibuseng   female/32   farmer   Ha Tsapane