photo of person from Lesotho the maluti mountains
Community Activities  
Culture and Customs  
Justice and crime  
Social Change  
Social Institutions  
Social Relationships  

Click on arrows
to find more
these themes












November 1997


A long interview, at times confusing, but containing some good material. He feels the chiefs cheated them over moving. Talks of how life has changed: one aspect, the increasing commercialisation of initiation, is echoed by other narrators. He also prefers the old ways of settling disputes: by fighting. Now they have to go to court and pay money and he implies that this even encourages people to create disputes, because payment can result. He talks much about the increased scale and business-like nature of animal theft and the effect on the village.

His thoughts on the dam and leaving are very moving. His description of the way their land is being calculated is revealing – a clash between modern quantitative approaches and different ways of measuring land is compounded by his observation that the LHWP officials measure with the longer strides of a European, so if he says his land equals three “tractors”, they say it equals two, and he feels cheated. Again we see the confusion this dam project is bringing into the lives of these villagers, and how they are trying to make sense of what is happening.

detailed breakdown

You will need a password from Panos to view the full transcript of the interview. To apply for a password, click here.

Once you have a password, click here to go to the beginning of the transcript. You can also click on any section of the breakdown of content below and go straight to the corresponding part of the transcript.


Section 1-3  Family details: nine children, one training to be a traditional doctor. Goes to other villages for feasts. Worked in the SA mines. Came back, gradually built up livestock nos.
Section 4  Good life in own village: “When food is there we live a nice life. Because on this second month wheat is ready. Our cannabis is ready. We will buy food for our children. We clothe them.” Sees lowlanders as more successful and as having a more varied because access to shops.
Section 5-7  Praise for traditional medicine; medicinal herbs hard to find and practitioners have to travel far to find them. Diseases – more prevalent than in the past. Belief in certain people’s powers to cause sickness: “when you see people who even know how to stop the rain and make the sun stand, now would you say that as for sickness they cannot bring in?” Work done by men – building, looking after livestock, shearing sheep, European ways dominant: “there is nothing that is still the Sesotho of old”. Women’s work – weeding, brewing and selling beer.
Section 8  Confusing description of a feast and games at a khotla. Mention of collectivisation of villages (but no elaboration of theme).
Section 9  Remembers first time he wore shoes – says that nowadays children are well-clothed while their parents may be in rags. Rain dance performed by women: “they would go singing, going to fetch rain… they would sing mokorotlo going there to the mountains”.
Section Section 10-11  Old people’s work – making hides supple for clothing. Different types of blanket made; people now prefer to buy from shops. Loss of respect for elders. Young people – “they are drunkards”, only have respect for their peers. Disputes used to be settled through fights; now people settle with money
Section 12  Festivals. Good description of types of food grown, prepared and eaten.
Section 13-14  Grazing on plateaus prohibited, so “[animal] wealth is finished.” Circumcision – now commercialised, strict traditions no longer followed. Young people’s lack of respect for parents and people. Teachers – less “mature” today.
Section 15-17  Witchcraft is rife. Theft – now big business. In the past, a thief “stole one sheep to eat and you would see that that person feels like eating meat” whereas “these ones take your whole kraal.” The thieves are from Lesotho’s lowlands and also see the villagers as their “cheques” (because of compensation money).
Section 17  Justice in past : “people used to just fight, they would beat one another and there would be no court case.” The pain of having to leave, and that the villagers are not seen as people: “Truly it is just cruelty … they were saying we are cheques.”
Section Section 18-19  Corruption of chiefs: “A chief wants to live on you and finish you. You should pay tribute to him, he should finish this wealth of yours.” Growing cannabis – poor harvest due to pests.
Section Section 20-21  Women’s activities – weaving, selling clothes. Thinks droughts have become more frequent; it’s affecting cows – nothing to eat, not producing milk: “Truly, it is just a pitiful scene.” Attempt to resist removal: “we tried to refuse to bend…even our chiefs are the ones who have made the principal chiefs eat us. As for them, they found money a long time ago.”
Section 21  His understanding of what the dam will do; they will have to “blast” the area. Coming to terms with moving. Difficulties of choosing where to go
Section 22-23  New place has fields but worried how they will plough them and what the animals will have to eat. His animals died or were stolen; he now feels like a tree with no leaves. People who don’t care about documentation buy the stolen animals. Disillusioned with their representatives (in government?).
Section 24  Not familiar with European way of measuring: “You know we are going to be cheated cruelly here….”