photo of person from Lesotho the maluti mountains
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Ha Tsapane


November 1997


The narrator’s view of highland life seems realistic rather than romanticised. He seems to say that in many ways the traditional sense of highland community is already disintegrating. He talks about changes in social relationships, especially the attitudes and behaviour of young people.

Thabo is interesting on education: he feels strongly that learning to read and write is useful but is sceptical about higher education because the “population has grown and even when you try and go and look for a job with that education of yours, you will find there [are] too many people who are queuing [for] a job like the one that you are looking for. Now it is in the manner that I see maybe it is to waste time that you should go for too high education. But the main thing is that you should know how to read and write.

He freely admits that he will miss the self-sufficient lifestyle of the highlands: “Here at Ha Tsapane the only thing that I am happy about, it is agriculture.” Although he has been consulted about the type of compensation open to him, he is realistic about its limitations, believing it is unlikely to ensure his family’s future security. Like other narrators he is concerned about how he will cope without his fields and livestock. The interview draws to an end with a particularly vivid quote: “…the government has made certain there is nothing that I can do, even if I do not like, because especially I am crying for this agriculture that is here at Molika-liko, even though I do not like [the situation] there is nothing that I can do because this country is the goverment’s.

detailed breakdown

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Section 1-2  Family history and background, including details of where his family now lives. Brief reference to the health of his mother.
Section 2-3  Attitude to lowland life: initially says it is good but then mentions its limitations: “we Basotho are people who live on agriculture and when I go to Lesotho (the lowlands) I will no longer find a field. I will live on planting in halves but when the owner of the field does not want me there is nothing I can do.”
Section 3-4  Healthcare in the highlands: “it causes a lot of problems because the women – they struggle a lot on the side of the mothers.” Practice of the traditional Sesotho doctors: “Sometimes it is your ancestors and it is apparent that your ancestors are hungry and now you experience some certain problems”. Compares traditional and modern medicine and concludes: “the importance of Sesotho doctors [and] these modern ones, it is the same”. Sesotho ones are useful for knowing about the ancestors.
Section 4-5  Differences in behaviour between the young people today and in the past, specifically with reference to discipline: “you cannot reprimand him or say ‘child what are you doing?’ or beat him up…that is why I see the children of today no longer have respect to the people.
Section 5  Traditional marriage conventions: “He will go to the parent and ask for mohope oa metsi (literally ‘a calabash of water’, meaning the girl’s hand in marriage) and they will go ahead with the marriage according to the negotiations the way they are.” Today young people are not following these traditions: “You will just see him arriving with a person’s child here or you would hear it being said that he has spoilt a person’s child somewhere...” Gender relations: women have changed in their behaviour towards their husbands, “these ones of today they are no longer reprimandable as women.”
Section 6-7  Food: “We still eat maize, sorghum, wheat from long ago even now, but there again appear others which appear anew like these beers which are brewed, several of them.” Schools and education: there is a mission school in Molika-liko. Children’s attitudes to school: some of them are fond of it, others go due to peer pressure. Attitude towards education.
Section 7-8  Mountain environment: “What I like most in the mountains here is pasture, here is water, for the benefit of the animals, and [us] people we do not struggle to get water, especially we do not struggle to get grass for the animals especially. Even drought does not get to be too severe...” Concerned about how he will manage when he moves; currently he can feed and clothe his family based on his agriculture and livestock.
Section 7-8  Roads and transportation: before the roads arrived, “I developed eyes (awareness) already seeing this road that goes to Likalaneng…we were using donkeys and horses.”
Section 8  The gold mines: the narrator did not work in the mines because he was the youngest and was required to stay at home to care for the animals. Cooperation between individuals and families in the community: the narrator hints at a breakdown of social cohesion due to a lack of cooperation between young people.
Section 9-10  Asked to comment on the impending relocation once more, the narrator sounds resigned to his fate, but hopes for developments such as piped water, electricity and improved pastures in his new location.