photo of person from Lesotho the maluti mountains
Lesotho glossary








farmer/repairs radios


Ha Tsapane


November 1997



Section 1
Please can you tell me the year in which you were born?
It was in 1961.

You were born in which village?
I was born in Ha Moshati.

Ha Moshati?
Yes, in the area of Berea.

Berea how?
Is it not that I am a citizen of here, now I am mother’s first child and [as is Basotho tradition] I was born there at my mother’s home village.

Oo, Berea there in TY (short for Teyateyaneng)?
TY there.

Now, when did you come here?
Well, as for here I do not know when I came; I was still a baby and all I was told was the day on which I was born.

Do you already have a wife?

Do you have children ?

How many of them?
They are five.

As for your wife, from where does she come?
Ha Takatso here.

Ha Takatso?

Ha Takatso is it also a place which is also going to be affected by the [Highlands Water] Project?
Yes, it is also going to be affected if I heard well. But I heard like it is going to be affected.
Section 2
Now, you have been living here from when?
From that same time when I left my mother’s home village there. I was weaned already living here.

What about school? Did you attend school?
Yes, I did.

Here at Molika-liko.

At what stage did you end?
I ended at [standard] three.

The reasons that made you end there, what were they?
It was the [financial] shortcomings of my parents; they could not afford [to keep me in school].

And then after that? After you left school?
And it was then that I lived on other people here. I lived by being hired.

What were you hired to do?
I was herding.

These people when they had hired you, how did they pay?
They gave me a cow per year.

They gave you a cow a year. What years could this have been?
I do not remember well as to when it could have been.

But when you estimate, when could it have been?
It could be around the 1970s.

In the 1970s you were already herding and yet you were born in 1961?

Were you herding right here in the village or not?
I was herding right here in the village here, as well as further up in places like ’Mamachipisa. I was once hired there.

Ah! How far would ’Mamachipisa be from here?
A long way – yes, quite a long way away.

How long would you take walking from here to there?
That is, if I were to leave here when around 1 o’clock, like now, I would be there by 3 o’clock.
Section 3
Ah, that is indeed far. So since then, until now, has the work that you do always been herding?
Right now?

No, it happened that after I married I stopped herding and then I became a person who is struggling on my own by building and repairing radios.

You know how to repair radios?

Where did you learn how to repair radios?
Right here in my home village.

Here at home, how?
Well, I watched while people were repairing them. I kept hearing that when it’s like this it’s like this, when it’s like this it’s like this; something is IC, when the IC is burnt it is like this, when the volume has gone down, it is like this. And that’s the way I kept learning those things, by just keeping watching while they were doing repairs.

Was there a person who was an expert doing repairs here?
No, there wasn’t.

Who were you watching?
I went down to places like Maseru.

Oh, Maseru – you’ve been there?
Yes, Maseru – I was there. I stayed there for three years.

What were the reasons that took you there?
I was struggling to find ways of putting food in my stomach.

By the way, where did you stay in Maseru?

Where were you working in Maseru?
At Seipobi’s.

Seipobi? The one who sells flour?
Yes, the one who sells flour.

What did you do?
I used to carry flour on my head.

You were carrying flour on your head for three whole years?

Now, what were the reasons for moving from Maseru?
I found that life there, ach…! Now I felt like planting here because I was already married and now my children were dying of hunger and now the whole thing of staying in Maseru, I found that the money was still very little, [coming in] from time to time.
Section 4
What years would that have been?
It was in the 1980s.

In the 1980s, how was a person doing that sort of job paid?
He was paid about 100 [maloti]. That is, it depended – if you had come earlier [your wages would be] 150 [maloti] – like that.

In the 1980s!

And it made you feel like complaining?
Yes, it made me complain. I found that there it was like “playing” (ie doing something that is worthless) because now I am paying rent, I also have to buy groceries [for myself in Maseru]. I am also buying groceries this side [for wife and children at home] again. I found that I was staying for “fun” and dying from these heavy [sacks of] flour.

Your family - did you ever live with them in Maseru?
No, I did not live with them. They were always here.

The thing that I want to understand is whether, when you were staying in Maseru – did you keep coming home?
Yes, I kept coming home, at the end of the month.

Now, during your growing up when you were still here, a person if they had problems of being ill, how did they find a cure? That is, what was it that was done?
That is, during my growing up?

We were taken to the doctors’, but then the doctors were not many. We were taken to Sesotho doctors, when we were suffering from things like common cold. When it was summer just like that, like it (the summer) has come in like this, well, say we were suffering from diphtheria they would take us and take us to places like Maseru. Because these hospitals were not yet there in places like Likalaneng here, and we kept being taken to Maseru there.

Now tell me here, I think that when you go to Maseru, money is needed.
Yes, indeed money is needed.

Now, how did you parents do so that they could get money?
Well, as for my parents they had always been people who were [economically] weak. They lived by borrowing and then they would struggle, and then at some point – when it (the crops?) had been planted – it would be then that they would be able to repay that person.
Section 5
The crops which have always stood out, which were seeming to be the ones that enable families here to live, which are they?
It was wheat and maize – those were the things that enabled us to live.

That is in what way? Was it being sold, maize?
Yes, it was being sold, this maize, at times when money for things like soap was not there.

Where was it being sold?
It was sold right here in the village here; maybe if I am suffering from hunger I talk to my kin there and he gives me grain.

Would he be giving to you or selling to you?
He sells to me, he does not give me, he sells to me.

Now, as for you where would you be getting the money when you do not work?
This money – if I am not working, you will find that sometimes when there is an animal... they will be able to sell an animal. Now if there is no animal it is a problem if there is nobody who works. We sleep as we are (hungry).

Now, you are telling me that crops like maize and wheat, you would say they are the ones which are important?
Yes, they are the crops that make people live, wheat especially because now this wheat is harvested during months like the third one (March). But now it is no longer being planted. We are just planting this maize only.

This wheat after it has been harvested, what happens to it?
It is threshed and then it comes home here and we eat.

What about grinding?
We grind if I have some money with which to grind (to pay for it). Or if I have beasts of burden I would take them and go and grind, but if I do not have any and we have failed to borrow, [the wheat] would still be ground by this wife of mine.

Is it the case that your wives (women in the village) are still grinding?
Yes, our wives are still grinding, except for this generation that is now emerging – this new one. It is the one that no longer knows these things like fetching wood and weaving ropes. They do not know.

I hear you talking about ropes. These ropes that you are talking about, which ropes are they?
That is, like the ones that roof houses.

As for them their use is only that of roofing houses or there is yet another
Their use is to roof houses and also those of theirs (the women’s) with which they bundle wood.
Section 6
Right now there is a small thing which I do not understand. I seem to recall that in earlier days circumcision was the first thing for a young Mosotho man. Is that still the case in this village of yours?
To circumcise?

Yes, it is still circumcised here.
That is, are you saying a place where (boys have been) incised right now?

It is at that village which is up there.

Is circumcision a must or not?
No, as for us we found that already circumcision was being practised and we heard it being said that it is Sesotho [tradition], we do not know whether it is tradition, we heard it said that it is Sesotho tradition. That is, we should not forget the things of old, of our father Moshoeshoe; it is said that it is him Moshoeshoe. But when I look I find that these times have changed. We are no longer... that is, even these children who are initiated/circumcised are no longer like us of earlier times; that is, it might happen that when you try and look you would find that he is roaming around in Maseru still wearing his mokhahla (blankets made of roughly tanned hide, worn by boy initiates) - right there (in Maseru); a boy-initiate coming from the mountain (initiation lodges are always located on mountains) this side. Now you should ask me as to what it is that has made him run away, because there is no person who drove him and asked to go there; he took himself there and said he liked it.

So it is not a must that a person should go?
Ache, it is not a must.

As for you did you get there?
Yes, as for me I got there.

Now, I have heard said that it has now become commercial circumcision these days.
Yes, indeed it is now commercial.

Can you clarify as to in ways of what kind when you compare to the earlier days?
Is it not that you understand that these days they no longer spend six months on the top of the mountain in the [initiation lodges]. Here at home they have to spend three months ntse ba qacha (time spent prior to initiation at the house of the teacher in a separate temporary structure), collecting wood here at home, even these three [months] when they are added to this fourth one and then they come down, we would then be convinced that they have been circumcised, those ones. But these days, because it has now become commercial ba qacha this many months, this fifth one they come down and they are already here at home. Now that food of ours which is from us here, has it got finished - because you need food there - now this food of ours has remained for him (the man who runs the initiation lodge) there.
Section 7
Is there any contribution which a person makes so that he can be circumcised?
Yes, it is there.

Another small point on which I would like clarification is, as for you at a time when you got married, did you marry? That is, in Sesotho it is like there were certain ways of getting married. Can you explain to me whether you follow that way of Sesotho of getting married or not?
Yes, the one of Sesotho is it not in those earlier days [a girl] would first be asked for, and then when [the girl] has been asked then there would be a wedding; now I did not ask (for a girl) because I found that as for I live a difficult manner - I just live with this old woman (mother) and my father who is also an elderly person - and now even this thing of saying I am going to ask (for a girl) now I am wasting time, now I live with elderly people only. So I made her elope (with me) and I came with her here.

I have heard like one of the ways of living in the mountains here ke koae ea fat e (is to cultivate cannabis) - well, you will excuse me.
Matekoane (cannabis)?

As for it when you talk about it in connection with livelihood what would you say?
As for [cannabis] I see it as a thing that wastes my time because I will gather it and put it in the house in here and then it would happen that it is not bought, and then the rats would be eating it in the house in here. And then it would happen that much much later when they come, those people who want [to buy] it, it would then...maybe it would even happen that he brings me 100 rands or 80 rands and he would be saying he wants a bag, yet this thing [is worth more because] I would have planted it with difficulties and even harvested it with difficulties.

I would like to know, now that it is that you are going to be resettled at a new place, would you say the places that will always stay in your heart - the ones that you will not forget about this place - which are they? Which places would they be, which are important?
That is, the important things that I will not forget are finding work when I was still living here at home, especially the fact that I can do things for myself with these hands of mine.

You mean that the thing that you will remember about this place is finding work with ease?
Yes, finding work easily.

It is work like which that you are talking about?
It is the same thing of building house and roofing houses.
Section 8
You mean that you are building and you are roofing?
I build and I also roof.

But I was asking more about places that you will long for; do you understand?
You mean of...?

That is you should tell me as to when you would have left from this place, and you would now be in another place, and you would be living there, that is, deep in your heart, which one do you think will remain there in your head - the one by which you will remember this place?
It is ploughing. That is, I will remain thinking about ploughing, because when I am in another place there will be nowhere where I will plough. Now, at that time it will happen that I will have folded my arms and I would be asking myself as to who will help me, who will at least give me some food and then it will happen that nobody will help me. And then it will be that I am that man who just sits, I do not work sometimes, I am just sitting, and then it will happen that I will change and will end up stealing as a result of thinking too hard about this agriculture of my home area here. That is the thing which will remain there in this heart of mine.

As people who we thought will be men of the future in this area, were there any associations which you had in this area?
They were there. We had joined associations such as bury-me-shilling; that is, these ones where we united and helped one another – when one person has a bereavement, or if I have problems, something like that, it would be able to help me.

Other associations which might have been there? Or helping one another? Ones which might have been there, can you tell us about them as to of what kind they were?
There are none except for agricultural ones only.

I am asking like this so as to know as to how you will continue with your associations when you get to the new places.
That is where our heads have stopped. As to now where are we going to use them, so that when I arrive right there I will then look for one that is there, if I have the means so that I can at least look for shelter in it. Because now you understand that this one, now we no longer have an opportunity to be in it, because one is going up that way, one is going to town, the other is going in that direction.

As for you where are you going?
As for me I am coming to right here at Likalaneng here.

You are coming right here at Likalaneng here, is it a place that you are already familiar with?
Yes, as for it I am used to it.

That is, in what way?
That is, when I go to work like that, of shearing sheep like that.
Section 9
The people of there, are they people that you know?
Yes, I know them.

That is, you know each other in what way? That is, if you can explain to me.
The same one of jobs of shearing sheep. That is, as for I would be going around with my shears, I do not have sheep.

In this place of yours, is it the case that thuggery or thievery is there?
There is a lot of it.

It is what kind of thievery?
That of stealing our animals. As for it there is a lot of it truly.

Now, when you try to investigate it, you find that the real cause or people who steal your things are from which places?
People who steal our things are from places like in the village here, as well as others from far away places there. Because is it not the case that businessmen you will meet with one of them businessmen from there - like Mohale’s Hoek, like Mafetengm - and now you know that we have already formed that gang, that as for him he should jack me there.

He should jack you, how?
That is, maybe if he has vehicles, and as for me I do not have them and then maybe as for me I know how to steal. Now as for me I will say if he has a business or a butchery, I will take these things and I will load them at such and such a place.

Oo, is it indeed the sort of thing that is here in this place?
Yes. It is indeed a thing which is already here.

Now, do you not fear that at the place where you are going, even there it is still like this?
No, we no longer fear because it is a thing which has become quite common.

The steps which you try to take to stop this thievery so that it does not spread, and worsen, they are steps like which one?
Ache, we have not taken any step, we have not come together as people of the village here and talk among ourselves as to what step we can take, now that our things are being stolen.

How is cooperation in the village here after there has been talk about the matter that people are going to be resettled?
Ache, it is not there.

Can you try and specify or clarify as to why you say so, or what you expect?
Because now we are being resettled, we no longer understand each other well [or get on] with the people of the village here.

The cause?
Because now one is going in one direction and one is going in another.
Section 10
I want you to explain with this misunderstanding as to what kind it is.
A misunderstanding of the kind that when I borrow an animal from him and he used to lend me one earlier, and then it would happen that he no longer lends me one. And then he would say that his animals are getting finished and I should take time to get some of my own. But how can I have them when I do not have the means?

What do you mean when you say with what shall you get them when you do not have anything?
Is it not that you understand, that at that time when we were here, when we had not been removed I would try tricks. Maybe when this seed of mine had germinated and I would have planted, and then now I would have the means of food and I would be able to sell. Maybe I will be able to get some two sheep from one who arrives and is hungry coming from somewhere. Maybe he would give me two sheep or three and then I would be able to go and look for a donkey somewhere from people who pass by selling them. So that if he wants sheep- maybe he says it [costs] four sheep or five of them, then I give him those sheep.

Now as for you at your home here do you have a house which is yours?
No, it is not there.

Which means that as for you on the points of compensation they are things that you do not know much about?
Yes, they are things that I do not know much about.

How many of you stay here?
I live with my mother, my father’s mother and this wife of mine only.

Do you not fear that she encounters problems in negotiations with people from the Project when they talk about compensation?
You are talking about the old woman?

No, because is it not that as for her she is the one who looks for those issues from them, because is it not that when we try to talk they say they want the owners of the households.

Meaning that mistakes might happen while you are still looking?

As for your father where is he?
I do not know, the last I heard was when it was being said that nobody knows where he has gone. It is said that he woke up while it was still night, the day before yesterday. Whether there is a person to whom he had gone I do not know, or whether he has stayed right there I do not know.

That is, when you say he is not there you mean that he is not there in the village here?
Section 11
But he is a person who is where all this time (normally)?
He is still at home here.

At home where?
Right here at the homestead here.

As for him does he have a say in all these matters when arrangements are being made?
No, he does not have a say, we are the same he and I; he does not have a say.

Now, as we come to an end, I want to hear according to you - you see like in this place where you are going to stay, do you think you are going to get a field there?
I do not think I will get it.

Now, how do you plan to live when you get to this new place?
Ach, I do not have plans, I see that I am going to live in a difficult manner when I get there.

I want a clarification as to whether up to this stage you do not yet know as to what tricks you shall try to do.
Ach, I have not yet found.

Ach, completely, as to what tricks I shall do I have not yet found. Maybe I shall find [them] right there.

Now, these children of yours how do you make them live? How do you think you will make them live?
I think I am going to encounter problems.

Is it the case that they attend school all of them?
No, two attend it; the others are still at home.

The means of paying the school, how do you manage?
I manage by the same tricks as the ones that I keep building houses and I keep repairing radios.

Ntate Tokiso, let me say that I am very thankful for this time that you have had to tell me this news of yours, but I ask that as for you, do you not have the last words in connection with this matters of yours of being removed from here in general, and about the place that you are going to leave behind and this life which you are going towards?
It is only that they should give us what belongs to us and let us see them well here, so that we leave this place after receiving what they owe us. And these jobs that they have always said we enjoy, we do not see where we enjoy here, but we have been affected. We live in a difficult manner and even our fields here, we do not plough them. We live in a difficult manner now we are being hit by hunger. We would be thankful if they could do everything for us while we are still here. They should not promise us that some time will be some time but [in the meantime] as for you, you should go; yet we do not know what we are going to eat where we are going.
Section 12
Of all these things when as for you, you have shown that there is nothing that you are expecting from the Project, when you talk about what belongs to you, you are talking of basing yourself on what?
I speak, basing myself on these mothers that I live with, that is these ones that I manage to struggle for.

Ach, truly I understand. I am very thankful.