photo of person from Lesotho the maluti mountains
Employment and Income  
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February 1998


This is a good interview. The interviewer makes an effort to explore the narrator’s personal feelings and perceptions. The narrator gives an eloquent account of the difference between choosing and planning to leave and being forced to leave; his fear of being duped by lowland people; and agricultural life in the valley. He prefers highland life because there are fewer thieves, the police don’t bother them and they do not need money for everything.

He describes a government policy that required people to kill a particular breed of sheep, the reason given being that its grazing habits “spoilt development”. He remarks ruefully that had it not been for this “small matter of development” his family would have had many sheep. Moreover, he felt there was some corruption and inconsistency in the implementation of the policy, having been to Maseru and seen sheep of the same type, belonging to “these same people from the government, the big ones”, grazing along the roadside, and having also heard that the head of state still had this breed at his animal posts.

detailed breakdown

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Section 1  Personal information. At least three generations in the area: “Our life is the soil, we live by agriculture.” Excellent description of life linked to planting and harvests.
Section 2  Cannabis trade and how it benefits traders: “That is the way of cannabis; that is the life we live”. Helpful explanation of barter system.
Section 3  “The land is finished, ntate” – newer generations not given land by the chief because there is no more land available to give. Able to educate his children.
Section Section 4-5  Quality of soil: “It is manure by itself; it is already fertiliser by itself.” Excellent harvests: “The harvest of here is high, it is up.” New agricultural practices. Change from broadcasting seed to sowing in lines has had major impact on yields. Snow not a problem – description of its speedy disappearance.
Section Section 5-7  Deciding to marry. Then goes to mines – almost a rite of passage: “it sometimes happens that… when you have not been to a place, you desire to know it”. Also wanted economic independence: “… I was no longer satisfied that I should be clothed together with my wife.” Towns and consumer goods. Cultivation of maize, and of cannabis (“That is the one that actually brings in a lot of money.”). Police don’t come because roads not close to village .
Section Section 7-8  Detailed description of discussions re emigrating and problems posed.
Section 8  Value of fields for future generations: “Here they are truly, they are able to bring up the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of their owners.” Moving description of how much pride he took in building his house, which he intended for his children. No voice in decision making: “we are befallen by this thing which has already been decided and us as people, we do not have power
Section 9  Interviewer comments on stereotypes and fears of highland people going to the lowlands. “You hear that we are going to be invaded in the houses...” Fear of being duped and used (seen as cheques, because people know they have compensation money). Excellent, loving description of valley, its good climatic conditions, superior grazing, etc. “This place of my home… [I] liked it and actually never felt even on a single day I would find myself not being in Molika-liko.”
Section 10  Problems of keeping livestock in the lowlands; unsuitable grass: “An animal of the lowlands gets old while it is still young, it becomes without teeth
Section Section 11-13  More on going to the lowlands. Losing self-sufficiency: “We do not buy food in tin containers or in those packets….” Money as something that goes out and doesn’t return. Blames government for water project. Looking after trees as renewable source of fuel. Grazing restrictions.
Section 14  Medicinal uses of aloe, and protection of the plant.
Section Section 15-16  Military government of General Metsing forced people to kill a particular type of sheep because “it spoils development”. Excellent example of bad communication of government development practices, and of corruption.
Section 17  Hires labour from other boys because he does not have sons of his own – taking on herdboys is common practice.