photo of person from Lesotho the maluti mountains
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farmer/village headman




November 1997


This narrator was interviewed twice: see 14B.

Mohlominyane, like many others, worked in the mines (in the 1950s) and mentions the racism there. However, he would like to return now, as he believes it has improved, but there is no longer any recruitment in Lesotho. His main source of income has been cannabis but he has been told not to grow it any more. The interviewer does not then ask how he then survives. It appears that the chief was instrumental in getting the villagers to agree to the move by telling them they would receive benefits, although, again, there was uncertainty as to what these would consist of. The narrator talks about banks (which he has never used) but thinks he may use one for his compensation money.

He thinks it is good that the villagers are going to different locations, but it is unclear exactly why. It may have something to do with his concerns over witchcraft. He talks about stock theft and the villagers trying to be united, but without weapons they can do nothing against the thieves. He also indicates his distrust of the police. Parts of this interview are quite difficult to understand.

detailed breakdown

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Section 1  Family details, married with three children, all of whom went to school up to the seventh class.
Section 2  Life is difficult at the moment as has been told to stop planting cannabis, his main source of income. Traders come over from South Africa. Seasonal food shortages The highland project brought the road and improved transport.
Section 3  Incredulous at the idea of needing banks: “we catch a grasshopper straight to the mouth” (lead hand-to-mouth existence). May put compensation money in a bank, but has had no previous experience of large cash sums. Labour: women weave brooms and sell them in the lowlands; in the fields both men and women hoe. They used to use donkeys, cows and oxen as transport.
Section 4  Description of local schools. Circumcision.
Section 5-6  Games. Implies there is a lot of witchcraft around, maybe that’s why he thinks it is good that people are separating and going to different villages. Working in the mines; racism (“Right now it is much better”); no more recruitment in Lesotho (regrets this).
Section 7  At first was against moving, but the chief reassured them, said they would receive benefit Not expecting much agriculture in new place – sharecropping is the best they can hope for. Has chosen where he wants to go and promised fields and irrigation.
Section Section 7-8  Animal theft: villagers are defenceless against armed thieves: “They arrive, they arrive with AK47 guns. This thing which [when] they provoke you, you would hear it going hoa! hoa! hoa! hoa!, roaring, lighting this house….” Female chief (took over from drunken husband).
Section 8  Village justice, mediation through committee. Livestock. Does not trust the police: ‘The police are very dangerous.’
Section 9  Narrator is the village headman.
Section 10  Growth of village. Recent drought.