photo of person from Lesotho the maluti mountains
Lesotho glossary










Ha Tsapane


November 1997



Nkhono (grandmother) ’Maseipati does not know her age but she points out that when Letsie 11 died she was a young woman.

Section 1
How many children do you have?

Those of mine?

Those that I breastfed?

When I explain it, it makes two boys.

Two of them?

Just two boys?

Where are they right now?
One is still here, he lives in there at so-and-so’s. The elder one lives in there, in a village called Ha Seoli. Now his younger brother has built there Thoteng-ea-Moji (Moli), at Matsieng there.

What does he do there?
He has built, he has emigrated there.

He has emigrated there?

The reasons that made him emigrate?

The reasons that made him emigrate from this village, which ones were they?
He just left and said that he feels he is attracted to there.
Section 2
He was attracted by the lowlands there.

Khele! As for your parents, which place did they come from?
Where I was born?

They came from Matatiele.

Yes, they came down coming from Matatiele and they went to build at a place

When they left Matatiele.

Okay, they went to Matelile.

From Matelile how did they come here? The reasons that brought them here?

No, that is I mean where I was born. Here it is a place of marriage.

Oo, here it is a place of marriage?
Yes, I am saying my home where I was born, my relatives were at Matatiele where I was born. That I ended up here was because of marriage.

Oo, how did you meet with your husband?

Where did you meet him? When you were here and he was there?
I was staying in here at Likalaneng at my [paternal] aunt’s.

As for your [paternal] aunt, the reasons that brought her here were which ones?
In here where I was staying at her place? Is it not that it was because of the same marriage.

She was married in there at Likalaneng, and then I came and stayed at her home and I
kept carrying her children on my back.

Can you tell me about this life of here, here where you stay?
Here where I have built.

Here where I have built, is a place where I have lived well. I was eating. I was ploughing. I was eating and getting full in the stomach. I was planting each and every single crop in the fields. I was getting wild vegetables that have been created by God on the ground, and I was being full in the stomach. Each and every single crop I was planting in my fields, and I was living comfortably in this land where we are being removed from today. About this matter, we are perplexed as to what kind of life we are going to live in the place where we are being taken to. Whether we shall continue to live the same life as we are living here.
Section 3
These crops that you talk about, the ones that you were planting for yourself, what kind of crops were they which you were actually living on?
Each and every crop, we plant each and every crop - peas, beans, wheat, maize like that, pumpkins, potatoes - every single thing we planted and ate and became full in the stomach.

As for the towns, are there people who have gone?
To town? Yes. Maseru - I sometimes go there.

What reasons would they be that take you to Maseru?
My children are there, are they not? I would just be going to my children’s.

If I understood well, did you not say that one of your children is here, and the other one...?
That is, my children by the extended family.

Oo, by the extended family.
Yes, those ones in Maseru are by the extended family, like that. The ones who, when they see me they call me “aunt” (paternal uncle’s wife), like that.

The life of town, is it the life that you like?
No, I do not like it.

What are the reasons?
No. I saw badly. That one, my nephew the son of my husband’s brother, in fact he is in there at Moshoeshoe two (II). I sometimes go, yes, even place like Thoteng-ea-Moli there you see it is in Lesotho (lowlands) at Thoteng-ea-Moli? I sometimes go and stay for a long time. Ache, I do not like [it].

Right now, these days when you compare the food that you eat right now here in the village, here where you stay, and the time when you had just arrived in this village just after you got married, is it the case that the food that you eat there is something that has changed?
It has changed?

The food that we used to eat has changed?

What could it be that could change it?
Section 4
It is still the same that you used to live on from the past?
We continue to eat like that, we continue to plant it, that seed of it (food, crops), we continue to plant it. It would rather be killed by the sun (drought), if the sun stands (if there be drought).

What about buying food (grain), are you not the sort of people who sometimes buy food that is bought from the shops?
Like what?

Food that is purchased from the shops which a person lives on by taking something from the pocket?
These ones of money?

Ao! No, I seldom buy. When I feel like that thing, I would buy a small packet, and then I would knead a little – ask the children to knead for me. Now as for me I just crush this maize of mine. I, a Mosotho (single member of the Basotho people), I crush this maize of mine, I crush it, I cook some water there. I cook water and when it boils I knead this dough and then I nepola (grind) it, I grind this dough, I cook there I stir, I stir I make lipolokoe (loaves), I mould loaves on the grinding stone there, I mould and I make loaves, that Mosotho of Moshoeshoe.

I understand truly. When you are here in this place of yours here, social services like health ones when the children are ill or you are ill, what do you normally do?
By going to the doctors?

We just go to the doctors. Is it not that we just go to the doctors when you body is ill you go to the doctors.

Where do you go to them?
These doctors?

Ao! Is it not that these doctors are all over this world of God, and if you go to him another [person] would say, “Hela! This one this side can help you go this side”. When you are somewhere [another person would say], “Ao, a person of God, this one [doctor] this side can help you”.

Which doctors are these that you are talking about?
A doctor can be of Mosotho or it can be of an European which listens (examines) with…[inaudible or interruption?]

What I would like to understand, is whether in your life here, in what ways was it looked after? That is, which doctors did you use most?
During our growing up?
Section 5
Of Basotho.

Of Basotho.
Yes. During our growing up, as for us when we were growing up, it was doctors of
Basotho. You look for it a Mosotho doctor to come and work on you, they would incise you with medicines, with a razor blade and sesetse (smear) you with medicines, a Mosotho doctor.

As for right now is it the case that you are still using these Sesotho doctors?
Ao, people just mix. Some are now going to the European [medical] ways, others go to Sesotho [medical] ways, and so on and so on.

These European ones, how do you meet with them?
The European ones? Easily, is it not that when you are ill you just go to the doctors and it would listen to (examine) you to hear as to...

That is, I am trying to look for knowing the means of getting there.
Getting to the doctors’?

Right now (these days)?

Is it not that you just go to the vehicles?

Oo, you go by vehicles?

Now the money to go to the doctors here, this European one, because as for it, it uses money.
Even a Mosotho one is it not that it also used money, and when you did not have money, you gave it a cow.

Now these European ones with what do you pay them?
With the same money. He will tell you what when I listen to you, you should give me this much.

I am trying to investigate as to the means of money - you get money by ways of doing what?
Us? We work. We work because we still get loli (plant used for weaving hats, ropes, mats etc) from there. A thing called loli do you know it?

No, what?
Leloli you do not know it?
Section 6
If it was nearby I would get it for you and show you loli. We cut loli there, it is at the river there, with a sickle, do you know what a sickle is?

Yes, I know it.
We go and cut loli, we also cut mosea (grass used to weave brooms, mats)- mosea do you know it?

Yes, mosea I know it.
We cut mosea. We come and weave here. We weave a thing called sethebe (grass mat used for preparing food). You weave it, and you sell it to those who do not know how to weave. You weave ropes, this loli, you split this loli and you ua ohla (spin/ twist it), and you make motlhotlo (a strainer made of grass), this thing that strains joala (beer). You make motlhotlo with that grass of God, that one, and then you sell and you get money, do you hear me?

As for the men, what do you do to them while you are doing these tasks?
What about them?

As for the men, what are their tasks, while you are doing these tasks that you are just explaining to me?
They also cut loli, and then they are going to weave hats. They go and cut loli and they are going to weave hats.

Other than cutting loli and weaving hats, the other tasks which were really their chores, ones that were really their tasks in the village here, what sort of jobs were they?
Chores for the men? Ao, is it not that, my brother, the tasks for men are many, they also weave lisiu (large grain storage baskets) - do you know sesiu (singular)?

This sesiu which holds maize?

Yes. Is it not that it is their work that they should go and cut mosea and be able to weave ropes. They cut grass, they cut grass of thaane (?) the men, and they are going to weave lisiu.

As for your husband where is he?
Ao, he has gone to the clouds.

Ao. As for him where did he work?
He was a person who made hats. He did go to the mines a little, and then he just stayed [at home] and wove hats and sold them.
Section 7
The reasons that made him leave the mine what were they?
Ao, he fell ill, and then he stopped and just stayed at home and just wove loli hats.

I forgot to ask you another important question, by the way, as for in what year were you born?
Me? Do you not see me that I am a person of old when you are looking at me?

Of old by the way in what year?
Ao, as for a year would we know it my child, is it not the case that we approximate by those chiefs of old like Letsie, that Letsie the brother of Griffith - do you know him?

The first Letsie or the second?
Yes, the second one, the brother of Griffith.

I see him.
Is it not that when he died I was already with little breasts, when that Letsie died and it happened that Griffith be brought down there from this place and went back to Matsieng.

Just tell me as for school, is it the case that you ever went to school?
No, ntate, I did not attend it. In my family there were no boys and I was herding animals belonging to my family.

As for the church, is it a thing that you ever attended?
Yes, ao, as for church, I used to go. As for school, I never went.

Now, when you had gone to church, with who did they remain those animals?
On that day my grandfather, who was old, would remain looking after them. My grandfather, who was old, the father of my father would say, “I will remain looking after them and you should go and make an appearance there [at the church]”.

Just tell me as to in those days, in the village here, when you had just arrived after you got married in the village here, how did people remove boredom from themselves?

Feast for enjoyment were what kind of feasts?
Ao, they were mehobelo,(men’s dance) mehobelo do you know it? And mokhibo (women’s dance)? It was mehobelo and mekhibo, we would ululate, men would dance and dart about, people would dart about people would ululate.

Are they still there right now?
They are not there, they used to be there in those days. Now they are getting tired or [something] – I do not know.
Section 8
What do you think is the reason that those games of those days are no longer there, it is because of what reasons?
I do not know why that is. I do not know as to what it was that tired them – mekhibo, women ba khiba, men ba hobela, people would ululate.

In many cases these feasts used to be on days when what had happened? What would it be that would be celebrated, when there was mekhibo and these other things?
What would be celebrated?

It would just be joy. It would just be joy. People would go masokoaneng (the “rain game”, played by women and girls in which women from one village go to another to steal the lesokoana (stirring stick) from the chief’s place. Women from the ‘host’ village immediately pursue the thieves to recapture the lesokoana.) ; sometimes people would leave in large numbers and go there and fetch lesokoana from there [to another village] and come here running with lesokoana, women and girls. The men go to the plateaus. When the sun is standing (when there is drought) like this, when the sun is standing, the women go to lesokoaneng and the men climb the plateaus.

At the plateaus, they are going to do what?
They are going to look for animals; the men would emerge singing a big mokorotlo
(war song), and going to look for animals in the plateaus there. When the sun is standing like this. When they come down having killed these animals - if they were to catch one of them (animals), it is such a big mokorotlo when they go to the river there, and it is going to be thrown into the water, this little animal, the women come ululating coming from masokoaneng. Then you will see a lot of the rain of God. When they come down from the plateaus these men, singing mokorotlo, it (the animal) is going to be skinned by the river there, and its mosoang (cud) should go away with the water.

Now what brings that rain?
It would rain so!

What used to bring it?
Would we know the things that are done by God, as to God when he is happy because of this deed, now how would we know? Now, do we know as to those in heaven as to how it was?

Indeed, it was indeed truly nice.
Have you heard that story before? That the little animal, the men would go to the
plateaus, and go and skin the little animal there by the water. Have you heard it before?
Section 9
Ache, as for it, I have heard before.
As for us we know it we used to see it.

Between this life of here in the mountains and the one of the lowlands, which one do you, deep in your heart, feel that you are happy with?
I do not want to go away from this village, but because of oppression, we will leave, because of oppression. I myself - I do not know about others - I did not want to go away, and there where I am going to the lowlands, I know I am going to stay, I do not like.

The reasons, which are they of not liking?
Yes, if you do not like a thing, you do not like it. I feel that dislike it that land of there. You see my [maiden] home was still in the mountains in the area of Makhaleng there, and that is why I do not like way way down there. I will be removed by the oppression that it has already been said “Go away”. As for this land, I liked it with all my heart.

Your liking for it, its foundation, what would we say brings it? What was it that you really liked about this place?
I like it because I was eating and getting full, I was ploughing and planting each and every single crop. This place where I am going, what am I going to eat? Who will give me a field? Who gives me a field there I am going? I was ploughing and eating, I told you when we started off here, saying that I was ploughing and planting each and every crop. I am saying this place where I am going, the one who is going to give their field to plough, who is it?

Ache, I understand truly. That is, in your village here of Ha Tsapane, are there important places which you see like when you are no longer living here, you will keep thinking of?
Well, you see, because I am not a person who travels too much, I just know this place called Ha Letsie, because I used to go there, my relatives had built there. Ache, I feel that the beat of my heart will be in the direction of this place where my life was.

What is it that you feel you will cry for a lot about this place which you are leaving, which you feel that even where you will be taken…
It will remain as a rock on my heart when I think of the place that I am being removed from.

Especially what, would you specify about this place of yours?
Which does what?

The one which you can say when you think of it, it will make you remember the joy and free life which you used to live?
There was nothing that used to torment me; I was living with joy and peace. I told you, is it not, that I was ploughing and I was eating. Now this place where I am going, what am I going to eat, who is going to give me a field, where am I going? I am saying I used to plough each and every crop and I was eating. Now this place where I am going, I am going to find old residents they are there. What will a person now eat? Where will they get a field? This place where I am going, if I find the people there have occupied all land, where will I find a field? Because here I used to plough my fields and I was eating and getting full. Now I am going to be a molopitsi (beggar) in other people’s villages.
Section 10
Is it the case that here in your village, theft is something that is there?
Well inside this village of ours I have not seen, only that we hear from other places there; as for inside this village of ours, a thief has not been caught; as for this village, [if I said there was theft], it would be that I am slandering ntate. Often we just see thieves being brought down from there, and coming tied, the ones coming down from what places they come tied. As for here no, I have not heard of a thief in this village.

Can you please tell me, in this village when you have clashed, if there were some who did not understand one another, as neighbours like that, how were they solved?
Ao, it would be a thing that would come to an end, the chief reprimands if one of them were to go the chief, the chief will call them and reconcile them, if they forgive one another it will be the end of it.

Earlier there, as for in the earlier days how were clashes resolved?
In the earlier days, when we were still growing up, differences are not things that come to an end. It would still happen that there be differences between father and son, they will fight, now is it not that that thing will be reprimanded and it would come to an end.

I actually wanted to know as to in what manner were they resolved?
Forgiveness is it not that it is a thing that is there, one would say to the other “forgive me”, if they have not taken one another badly. A chief would reprimand, or the family if they do not go to the chief, those [members] of the family would be assembled, and they (the protagonists) would be reconciled, and it would be “forgive me then, forgive me then”, and then it would be that they forgive one another and it would come to an end.

As for you which place have you chosen to go to, when they remove you from here?
Right in here at Likalaneng. We are dispersing like the young ones of a bird, [some here], others there!

In this dispersing of yours where it seems that you are going different ways, is there no badness that this dispersal will bring in your unity as a community? I can make an example, in things like bury-me-shilling (burial associations) and so on and so on.
As for us, I feel that we are perplexed now that it seems we are dispersing and yet we had formed this society of bury-me-I-bury-you. As to now what shall we do, because now one is here, others are there! Now we had come together in bury-me-I-bury- you, now we are perplexed as to what we shall do. Some people are saying: “Hela, people will write to one another, people will play their radios” (to hear news of a death). Ao, is it a thing that will materialise?
Section 11
Now these ones of the Project, what have they promised you to compensate you for what they are taking from you?
Ache, these fraudsters we have not actually heard, because they have said as for the house they are going to build for us, as for the fields, they will compensate us. Now we do not know because we have not received that pay.

How do they compensate you?
Is it not that now they are going to make dams and now they are removing us, they build for us and now for these fields of ours we are being compensated?

I want to know as to that pay, is how much and how?
We have not even heard as to how much we are to be compensated, we have not even been told, “As for you with this field of yours, I will give you this much”. The day before yesterday ho ne ho be ho tonosoa (they were busy) here and they were measuring gardens; [these things happened] the day which was followed by that of yesterday, we have not even been told even as to: “You, you will get this much compensation”. We have not been told.

But were you told how much space your places take?
We were not told, I do not know about others, as for me I do not know; I was not even told, “Your field is this much, you are going to get this much”. We are still waiting for that compensation as to what time it needs to be before we are paid.

As for them, when did they promise to compensate you?
We do not know. On the day they like; just like they are removing us from here, they do as they like with us; or whether they are not going to compensate because they have been given the land, we do not know. We do not know how we are going to live in other people’s villages, with people who do not know us, and we do not know them. We are separating from our friends, these ones who were looking after us, those of the village whom we are now separating from, [who would say] “Grandmother, take some porridge”. Now that it is that we are separating, it is cruelty.

As for the graves what happens with them?
As for the graves I heard it being said that we should take them. I heard a story like it is said that we should take them.

You would have to be able to point at all your dead ones.

Now what happens with those who died before you were born?
We do not know what will be done my brother. Whether these graves of this village, which is this big, where one no longer knows as to where his [dead relatives] were; [we do not know] as to what would be done with that sort of thing. Because now Basotho of old were not interested in this writing or building around them (graves). Now these days, they build around them. It is just a close-knit conglomeration [of graves] in there, which you do not know as to where yours is; we do not know as to what we shall do. The thing that we are in ntate, is dreadful. The thing that this government of today has done to us, I am afraid of it. As for me, I cry, I do not know about others. Whether the others are happy with it, as for me I am not happy with it at all. We do not know as to now what shall we do. As for I was saying that they should compensate us for our fields, and let that be it so, that when we go different directions… now, I do not know what is happening.
Section 12
What should they give you?
Compensation for our fields; now they are not giving us.

Ao, what are these people doing?
Now, are you writing them these matters?

This news of yours I am taping it here.
As for me, I really hurt. But there is nothing I can do.

I understand.
We live on grass. We cut grass, we weave, we help ourselves; we plant our food in the fields; you just plant peas, beans, potatoes in your field; you do as you like. Now that we are being removed, we are going to whose place and where? Well, it does not matter. We have been befallen by the great flood, that one of the water of old which we hear of when we are told; it has come to us; it has taken us, the great flood of water.

Had you been given a few places from you had to choose so that a person could choose and say as for me I would like to here.

I want to know why you have chosen Likalaneng and you have not chosen these other ones?
Well, is it not that it has been said that a person should choose where they like.

The other places why did you not like them?
I just felt that I liked Likalaneng because my relatives are still there. That same chief who rules there, is in fact my relative.

Meaning that you are now going to be answerable to a new chief?
Who? Mohato?

I mean that one of Likalaneng.
Yes, is it not that we have actually been given sites. Everybody has been placed on a site. It was being said that a person should go to a place where he is going to build.
Everybody dispersed, and others went down.

Have you already seen that place where you are going to live on?
I know Likalaneng, I had settled there, and we were brought here by good harvests; people were saying that good harvests are here at Molika-liko. Now there, people planted only wheat and there was no maize. I had settled there. Now [when LHDA removed us from here], I said I should just go back there; what is the use when it is that the place which I had liked now it is that it being taken away from me, the one of Molika-liko; there is no use I should rather just go back there.
Section 13
I do not understand: had you settled there already having been married?
Yes, I was already married.

Which means you came here in what year?
Ao, my brother, would I know the years of old, when I had not noted them that so and so, and so and so.

Was your husband still alive?
Yes, ao, he just this recently died. He just died recently.

Likalaneng is a place which you already know, where you once lived?
Yes. We are in sorrow; I do not know about the others; as for I am in sorrow now that we are being removed from this land. It has taken us, the great flood, that one of old.

But have you prepared yourself for the life of the new place?
Yes, what shall we do now my child?

This young man who is here, as for him, how do you relate to one another?
This boy of mine? He is the son of my eldest child.

Now, are leaving with them?
Yes, I am leaving with them.

Has he married himself?
Yes, it is his wife, that one who he is talking to.

How many children does he have?
It is the eldest son, and the one who comes after him, and that little girl, and the one who is suckling.

How is witchcraft here?
My child, as for those matters of witchcraft, I am not able to testify to them. I do not know them.

Is it a thing that exists here?
I have not heard anything. As for there it would be I am testifying to something that I do not know.

Indeed people live in peace in this village.
Nicely. It is nice in this village. Well, I do not know about me, people are not the same. Others will speak somehow. As for me I often think that we live in a state of great well-being. Some people, when they get drunk, they fight; here I have never heard of such a thing. Others, they break into other people’s houses in other villages; here I have never heard of such a thing. It is just a village of peace. Truly it is just a village of peace.
Section 14
Your dead ones, do you still take them to Maseru? Corpses before they are buried?
The dead ones are squeezing each other right here.

I mean before they are buried, before the day of... [interruption]
Oo, mortuary? No, they are not taken to a mortuary. How do you think we would take them my child - here there is not even this thing?

So what do you do?
This dead person will stay and the following day he is buried. If he dies today, people will spend the next day while they are preparing, and then it would happen that the following day he is buried.

Even now it is still done like that?
Yes, when we are so much inside of the mountains, and even the road has just come right now, would we cope with carrying a corpse on horseback and take it to Maseru?

Ache, nkhono, truly I am happy with hearing this news which comes from your mouth, and truly I promise you that this book which is going to be printed is going to be for the benefit of these grandchildren and your great-grandchildren of yours. In future they will read and hear this news which you were telling me about this day of today, and unfortunately they will not be able to know as to how their village once was, because now we were not able to come with a photographer on this day of today, so that we would have been able to take some snaps of these homes of their parents. So that in future when the dam would have covered and it would be just water here, they should say that their home was there. Truly I am very thankful.
Truly we do not know as to what caused these dams in the land of God. Ever since the world has been living, [ever since] it was founded, it was our first time to hear when the lands are dug and are being turned into dams; ever since it was founded; we have become old it is our first time when we become old. When we became old there emerged strange things in the land of God.

I am very thankful, truly nkhono.