photo of person from Lesotho the maluti mountains

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Ha Tsapane


November 1997


The interview covers several topics and gives us a good idea about the narrator’s life in the highlands. Although it contains some interesting sections it is confusing in parts, probably as a result of translation. He describes the society he is leaving as one of peace and cooperation. He explains that although there is animal theft “in the houses no, even if you were just to go and spend a month without having locked you will find this house still being as it was [when you left]; it is only the rat that will destroy your things.” Any conflicts are usually sorted out at the village level by the chief and the committee without going to the courts. He is hoping that they will be able to continue their burial association after they have moved and maintain this system of mutual support. “Now we are separating we are arranging whether we shall still help one another even when we are dispersed, and also this money of ours - what shall we do with it? Perhaps we should take it and put it in the bank, so that those from there, should know that such and such a person is dead. We should help one another.

It is clear that the narrator is happy with his life in the highlands: “It is nice; it is warm even in winter I do not get cold and even my animals do not get cold - they stay nicely on the vale here; and the soil of here...” He emphasises, “the love of the people of this village...the village becomes beautiful because we do not know how to steal from one another’s house even when you are not there.” Like other narrators he expresses anxiety about resettlement and his future.

detailed breakdown

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Section 1-2  Family background. Livelihood is based on agriculture: “Drought sometimes strikes... When the problems are there of money, we sometimes brew beer so that we able to get some tickeys (money).” Advantages of the road built by the Project
Section 3  Theft – only of animals Communal labour Schools both traditional and modern in village
Section 4  Customs and games Witchcraft: “It has not been visible; it is just a thing that is talked about.” Chose not to move to the lowlands because he wanted a plot of land.
Section 4-5  Graves: LHDA said they will take them and pay for reburials Cannabis is a good source of income Village institutions: Chief; committee; village meetings Villagers are going to different areas, “most of us are going to different areas and we are going to other people who we do not know if we shall understand one another in language.”
Section 6  Burial association, not sure how to operate this when everyone has separated Used to work in the mines Changes in marriage customs Will miss the soil and the weather and the “love of the people of this village.”
Section 7-8  Communications: radios bring news; now it is easy to travel to Maseru. He used to herd both in the villages and on the plateaus Use of “European” doctors and medicines “We are pained because where we are going we do not know how we are going to live.” There have been promises from the project: they should receive money on an annual basis for food, “but being people we shall also look for something for ourselves... We cannot expect money; money is a thing that gets finished in a day.” Benefits from his livestock. Example of community concern for others; milk is given to those without it: “There is no child who can eat [papa] on its own when others are eating with milk.” Something about education, but translation is unclear.
Section 9-10  Mentions hiding cannabis from the police. People come from outside to buy it. The committee and chief solve conflicts and crimes before they go to the courts: “if this thing is to pass on to the court of the judges it should be able to pass when it has defeated us; if it has not defeated us we should decide it.” Horses and their uses: “They are ridden, they are loaded on, the games for them are many, some of them are made to amble, some are raced.” People support each other: “During the times of work when you wake up you go to your work. In the evening when we come back you will still talk to one another ‘Hela, I have worked like this’. He will also say ‘Hela I worked like this’.”