photo of person from Lesotho the maluti mountains
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October 1997


The narrator returned to the area in 1994, after having been away as a miner between 1963 and 1994. The interview therefore focuses on recent changes in the area, in particular the impending displacement as a result of the LHDA project. He sees many contradictions in the LHDA’s dealings with the villagers. Promises of new farming centres, with training in vocational skills such as commercial livestock keeping, have not been kept. Promises of employment in the construction of new roads also proved empty. Compensation for the natural vegetation (which was a source of herbal medicine and roofing grass) is given to chiefs and village development councils, not the villagers. The narrator explains this by saying: “Then I begin to realise this money is buying refuge for us.”

Compensation for the land they are going to lose has two problematic aspects: Firstly the sum is inadequate and the lump sum of R37000 per acre does not correspond to the alternative of an annual amount of R1800 per acre for 50 years. Secondly, the villagers are powerless in the LHDA’s measurement of their fields: the fields are measured in their absence and they are not told what this measurement is. The narrator says, “They say my field is one acre or three acres while its actual size is five acres, since the LHDA knows that we do not know the size of our fields. When they realise they have limited funds they are going to reduce the number of acres in our fields” (p3). In any case, they have very small or no fields in the new place to cultivate their maize, sorghum, beans, fodder and cannabis on which their livelihood depends.

The narrator talks about the commercial cultivation of cannabis and its importance as a source of income. He says he prefers to sell it than to work in the mines because he gets more money from it and can ensure his children have new clothes and can go to school.

detailed breakdown

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Section 1  Brief personal history. Narrator and his brother developed fields and livestock. Family has never needed to buy food.
Section 1-2  Schooling: completed primary education in 1960, then worked first at Lesotho’s technical institute, then for 30 years in the mines in South Africa.
Section 2  Married twice. Second wife in Maseru with children. He lives with his youngest son. LHDA’s promises of vocational training. “Now all these promises are no longer mentioned.
Section 3  Problems of moving: no/insufficient compensation for the amount of land they are losing; they have been told by the LHDA to roof the houses that they are leaving behind. Does not trust LHDA and wants compensation before leaving.
Section 4-5  Importance of cannabis as the main source of income. Promises of employment in construction of roads not met. Natural vegetation provides herbal medicines, grazing for livestock and materials for roofing. Adamant that individuals – not village development committees – should be compensated for loss of these things.
Section 5  Different uses of livestock. Relocating bodies of ancestors: corpses to be exhumed and reburied. Expects LHDA to cover funeral expenses. What his memories will be: “Firstly, my father’s big field down the valley which was a source of food for the whole family throughout my childhood…. we grew up feeding on that field.
Section 6  Religious politics of schools in the area More information on his two marriages. First wife had an affair with another man while he was at the mines.