photo of person from Lesotho the maluti mountains
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November 1997


The narrator has little land and survives by “tricks” (whatever work he can find). He expresses great concern about moving and is confused about what will happen. Promises seem to have been made which have now been broken (over receiving “soil for soil”) and the villagers are left anxious about what exactly they will receive. He fears that his new home will not be the same size as the old one. He is very concerned about the graves and being able to take his ancestors with him, otherwise they will be submerged in water. Talks movingly about his love of the area, how he can (just) make a living and how the people help each other.

detailed breakdown

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Section 1  Family details – married with three children (one died). Mentions collectivisation of villages – earlier example of being forced to move, as is happening now.
Section 2  Herded father’s cattle; no schooling. Confusion over how old he is now and how old he was when married (interviewer presses him).
Section 3  Worked in the mines – lost his job, unclear why.
Section 4  Changes in village: “We grew up knowing elderly people… right now, I see children of people get spoiled.” Says girls still have respect for fathers. Circumcision: “these people have now turned lebollo into commerce”.
Section 4  How he survives/earns living: “Well, there is no means by which I live; it is just tricks; only I would not call it a livelihood. It is just the arithmetic of a man only.” Has no fields, just a few small plots, does agricultural work for other people for food
Section 5-6  Lost his chance to get a field (unclear but seems to have lost out when land was being distributed). Explains process of getting a passport to go to SA – chief must sign form and also write a letter to say he did not desert – needs this to obtain employment Likes the mountains, does not want to go to the lowlands.
Section 6-7  In towns, need money to survive (“you eat with money”); in rural areas, “when you have an animal you can manage and eat with your children.” Mutual help in rural areas: “[if] I arrive and say my children slept with hungeryou give me some flour and I go and eat with my children. I will still pay you back at some point when I have gleaned.” Won’t be able to talk to his ancestors in the graves or take his children there.
Section 8  Importance of taking ancestors’ graves with them. Knows people from the new place but only casually. Hopes for a field to grow cannabis. Maize is scarce in new location.
Section 9  Feelings about moving: “this matter of being emigrated actually defeated us a long time ago”. Originally told they would receive “soil for soil” but now doubtful. Has a small plot of land but does agricultural labour to supplement income.
Section Section 9-10  Loss of house and discontent with new one: “Now, right now I am crying about this house, because they have eaten my house, after they ate it together with that site of mine they again built me a building which I am not satisfied with.” Feels cheated by the project. Knew all the different ways to make a living in village; will keep seeing his home in his mind.