photo of person from Lesotho the maluti mountains
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October 1997


The interview, though somewhat rushed towards the end, illuminates quite a few issues. There are some untranslated poems and songs, and the narrator’s lament over what he will miss once he has been moved is almost biblical. He is concerned with the degradation of life over time: children no longer have respect for each other; a previously harmonious community is now ridden with jealousy and hatred, female infanticide exists (though no explanation is given for this); and there are new differences with neighbouring villages. Resettlement is only going to bring a whole set of other problems. Primary is the question of how he is going to make a living. The interview ends lyrically: “I will miss wild vegetables, which I get free. I will miss potatoes, which I had free. I will miss beans, maize, cow milk which is also free. All these I will miss in Nazareth. I will also miss free firewood. I have made coal with cow dung. I will miss these chickens, you can see them. I will miss my livestock kraal, my rondavel, my flat house, the chicken house where I protect my chicken. I will miss all these.

detailed breakdown

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Section 1  Brief life history. Only went to school for “sub A”, could not go further “because I was a herd boy, tending my family’s livestock
Section 2  He had ten children, eight are still alive Recalls his life as a herd boy, good harvests and fertility of the past.
Section 3  Marrying his wife: touching reminiscence of meeting her. Striking description of how rain was brought in “olden” times: praying for it by dancing and saying praises. Deterioration of village society. His explanation for this: “we have wronged our God somewhere, through our deeds on earth, because we do too many wrong things.
Section 4  Worked in the mines after marriage because he wanted to be able to provide for himself and his wife. Settlement history – small villages brought together into one because of difficulty of communication between the different hamlets and family groups. “Hidden” crimes committed by chiefs to gain power. Confusing reference to people disappearing without explanation His farming activities and livestock
Section 5  “...there are fewer oxen to use because most have died because of poor pastures. There is also a lot of stock theft. They take livestock from kraals. This is the main problem in this area.” Implies police are involved in this stock theft. Declining peace between neighbouring villages, implies it is a reflection of the rivalry between chiefs rather than villagers.
Section 5-6  Resettlement anxieties: how he will survive without livestock; fear of theft etc. in a community he doesn’t know. “My main fear is that I don’t know how I’m going to survive and with what.” Remembers a fight between rival chiefs over boundaries. Hunting rats – good source of meat. “We grow wheat a lot here. We exchange wheat or peas for sorghum with people in the lowlands so that we can brew beer for our feasts.” Custom of using communal labour on fields and providing beer for people – makes them work better.
Section 7  Seven people are going to settle where he will but others are going to other places. “We shall still share problems together. Also we shall make new friends with people who live there. It is still a difficult situation but since it has been done by the chiefs, the government and the project, there is nothing I can do about it...” Describes the things he will miss when he moves.