photo of person from Lesotho the maluti mountains
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Ha Tsapane


November 1997


At the beginning, the narrator says there is little unity and co-operation in the village, but that the women help and support each other. She talks about life as a woman, decisions always being made by men, women not being consulted separately about the LHDA project. However, there is no indication that she feels strongly about this. She feels it’s a hard life as a woman and that her children make more demands on her than her husband.

She frequently indicates that she is confused by the project, the compensation and what exactly the whole deal is with the move. They have heard bad things from Katse of broken promises, and the confusion and uncertainty has obviously exacerbated her anxiety about the future. Some of her imagery seems to indicate that she feels overwhelmed, to the point of “shutting down”, by events and trying to sort out what to do – my head has stoppedthere is a sense that she is paralysed in the face of such an enormous change to her life. She likes her life as it is, with her land and the extra money she makes from her cannabis fields – again there is confusion over the compensation for this cash crop.

detailed breakdown

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Section 1  Family details, eloped while still at school, has six children. Works in the fields: planting and harvesting maize, wheat and peas. Sells surplus maize, wheat and barley.
Section 2  Bury-me-shilling association (saving money for funerals); otherwise, little co-operative action amongst villagers. Her role in the family – collecting wood, cooking, etc. The man still makes all the decisions. Women not consulted separately by LHDA: “… maybe it would be the man who would answer and as for me I would just keep quiet”.
Section 2-3  Likes her village, has plenty of land and crops, and a better harvest than her parents used to (despite no extra inputs). Growing and trading in cannabis. Anxieties about project: unsure whether any compensation for loss of earnings from cannabis.
Section 4  Confusion over amount of compensation and measurement of land: “Now, an acre – we do not know it, is it not, because we have not been shown it?” What to do with her animals when she leaves: “Truly I am in difficulties; I feel like I do not know what I shall do with them.” No employment from dam project.
Section 5  Travel/communications: formerly on foot, then bus, hiring people to carry luggage. New road a benefit, but also part of the development that is forcing them to move. Reasons for visits to Maseru: shops, seeing relatives.
Section Section 5-6  Choosing where to go – original plan was for a community decision but: “Some are remaining in the mountains, others are going elsewhere, yet others are going somewhere else again.” Fears separation from relatives and loss of support system. High incidence of elopement (no insight into reasons). Diseases – main ailments; no help from LHDA project. Prefers European doctors (“even these teeth, they will take them out”) to Sesotho ones (those “who dig medicine”). Help from older women, including matsema.
Section 7-8  City life – job opportunities. Traditional games, songs, feasts for ancestors. Hard life as a woman as children need her to provide for them: “They are many [problems] I agonise over. If there are no matches they ask me for them, if there is no soap they asked me for it, when the children are hungry they want food from me.” Moving to new location: “… I am in difficulties, my head has stopped. I am in problems on this matter.” Local justice. Mediation of chiefs. Good relations with other villages – hopes this will continue after move: “but now I no longer have [complete] trust that they will happen.”
Section 9  Changes in vegetation, especially grasses. Hard life faced by widows. Fatalistic attitude to relocating: “I am not preparing myself, I am just sitting.” More on uncertainty about move and compensation. Intends to use compensation to set up new business and save some money.
Section 10  God as her teacher in life. Husband worked in the mines – good money and were able to provide for their children. Husband left mines “long years” ago; since then has traded horses across border.
Section 10-11  News from Katse – promises not being fulfilled – raises anxiety. Feelings about current situation: “It is that we no longer know as to what we can do for ourselves.” Brother’s death in mining accident. Circumcision – mostly for boys; also some women. Does not see the point of it: “If I can teach children subjects of school it would be enough.