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farmer/repairs radios


Ha Tsapane


November 1997


The narrator, like others, expresses some confusion over levels and form of compensation, and concern about how he will make a living in the new village – although this narrator does have a number of skills, for example repairing radios, shearing sheep. He indicates that the resettlement process has bred mistrust among the villagers. Anxiety again about associations like bury-me-shilling in the new place, and a feeling that mutual support systems (which in a rural community can be complex and long-term) are beginning to be eroded. As others do, he talks about the growing problem of livestock theft, and how they are powerless to stop it. But unlike other interviewees he does not grow cannabis and thinks it is more trouble than it’s worth, partly because of the problem of selling it. He emphasises the hand-to-mouth existence they lead and that even working for a wage, as he did in Maseru, did not make life any easier. Ultimately, he prefers village life, as he is self-sufficient: “that I can do things with these hands of mine”. He is concerned that enforced idleness in the new place – with no fields to cultivate – may tempt him to steal.

detailed breakdown

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Section 1  Family details, five children.
Section 2  Left school as parents couldn’t afford it, hired out as a herdboy from the age of nine, paid by receiving a cow a year.
Section 3  After marriage gave up herding and now builds and repairs radios for a living, learnt trade by observing others in Maseru (where he lived for three years): “I kept hearing that when it’s like this it’s like this… when the IC is burnt it is like this, when the volume has gone down, it is like this….” Reason for going to Maseru: “I was struggling to find ways of putting food in my stomach.” Selling flour in Maseru.
Section 4  Cost of urban living overrode the benefits of finding waged work; children were going hungry. Healthcare.
Section 5  Hand-to-mouth existence – can’t survive without borrowing. Families survive by selling maize, and rely on kin to help out with food when times are hard. If no money, grind wheat at home Young generation no longer know how to weave ropes and collect wood
Section 6  Changes in initiation practices: in the past the ritual took six months, but now much more commercial and much shorter.
Section 7  Marriage – eloped with his wife. Disadvantages of growing cannabis.
Section 8  Likes self-sufficiency. When moves to new place, “I will remain thinking about ploughing, because when I am in another place there will be nowhere where I will plough.” What will remain in his heart when he leaves. Worried he may turn to stealing because of idleness in new place: “then it will be that I am a man who just sits, I do not work sometimes, I am just sitting, and then it will happen that I will change and will end up stealing now, as a result of thinking too hard about this agriculture of my home area.” Bewilderment about what to do about bury-me-shilling associations when they move: “our heads have stopped.”
Section Section 9-10  Shears sheep and is moving to a place which he knows through this. Livestock theft big business: thieves use vehicles. Village has not united to deal with this problem. Impending resettlement has eroded co-operation, bred mistrust. Exchange and buying of animals/mutual support systems are breaking down. More on compensation.