photo of person from Lesotho the maluti mountains
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Lebeko, and



male and female




chief and chieftainess


Ha Tsapane


October 1997


An unusual interview in that the first narrator’s wife (who comes in half way through) provides the more illuminating contribution. Her narration on the inadequacy of resettlement compensation is particularly useful in illustrating its complex nature. Some money is to be given to the villagers before resettlement, and there is uncertainty about whether the rest of the money will ever arrive. There are problems regarding the measurement of the land to be compensated. Furthermore, different sums have been promised to different people, with those being resettled in the mountains receiving less than those going to the foothills. The logic of this seems to be “double marginalisation”: the fact that the mountains have fewer services means that people moving there will have fewer needs and therefore deserve lower compensation. Despite all these problems ’Matsepene Tsapane says that the dam developers expect that “we should feel sorry for them since they are very busy moving people”.

The chief himself is not as articulate on these issues and readily admits the interviewer should ask his wife about them. Rather he says, “actually I don’t understand what these people are saying when they tell me I have to move because this thing does not register in my mind…. When you are moved from your home and taken to another place you will no longer be human because you are used to the life you had at your place of origin, where you lived well.”

The interview does not cover the man’s role as chief (in fact his wife had recently taken over his responsibilities). However, his narration reveals other interesting issues, in particular the process of the deterioration of grazing land. The villagers are forced to keep the cattle in the land around their homes instead of in the cattle posts in the mountains. This causes soil erosion and the formation of dongas (gullies). He explains that they have given up trying to tackle this problem because the principal chief only tells them to go to the foothills, where it is difficult to graze livestock, as there are too many fields there.

detailed breakdown

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Section Section 1-2  Personal details. Importance of agriculture: “From the time when the fields were my father’s we have been living well off [them]. ” Also worked in the mines for some time. Unemployment among younger generation: “…they are just roaming about, not doing anything specific.
Section Section 3-4  Initiation processes and how they have changed, and become monetarised as a result of the formation of initiation committees. His sons eloped with their wives.
Section Section 4-6  Changes in cultivation over time from hand sowing to ploughing. Why the grazing land has deteriorated (see introductory paragraph). Changes in health practices from “traditional” customs to modern clinics, for e.g. “We used to protect the family against the evil forces by Lo faka (spraying around the homestead with some medicated water to drive away the evil forces)
Section 6  Pathos in his description of feelings about moving: “In this village I live without any problems. Now when these people move me from here they are taking me to sufferings.” Starts to describe some particular problems which are taken up later by his wife.
Section Section 7-8  livestock theft. Witchcraft widely practised: “My child passed away died because of witchcraft.” Problems of communicating (for example, news of deaths) with other villagers once they have been resettled in different locations.
Section 9  Problems of moving graves. Relocation money seems to be “eaten up” by the authorities.
Section Section 10-11  (Chief’s wife takes over narrative). Problems of compensation include: total sum given is less than that worked out per field; new houses built by the LHDA are of very “low quality”; authorities did not take owners along when measuring their fields. Determined to stand up to LHDA: “Me, I will not let them build me a house with those low quality bricks. I do not know about those who will agree.
Section 12  (Chief resumes narrative). The effects of resettlement on people already displaced, the Katse dam people: given rotten maize and fodder, promises not kept (followed on p13).
Section Section 13-14  Very few villagers – and no women – employed by the project. How he became chief of the village.