photo of person from Lesotho the maluti mountains
Lesotho glossary












November 1997



Section 1
By the way, ntate’s name is ntate.....
Me, I am Tsatsi.

He is ntate Tsatsi. Ntate Tsatsi you are how many years?
Hek! I no longer know well.

When were you born?
Helek! By God, ache, by God’s truth - you see us people of the past we did not know that they were writing us down. Yes truly as for me in fact, ache. My years, but ache, I believe that as for seven tens I have passed them.

Yes, you do not remember even as to when you were born, what was happening?
Mmm truly, then there were no times truly.

Now, where you born ntate Tsatsi?

You were born in Quthing, and then you emigrated here when?
I emigrated here, ei! A long time ago my father was still alive. Even he came here to his home in that village on the ridge, Matebeleng there.

He was going to Matebeleng. Oo, when you were still a young man?
No, I was still a boy.

You were still a boy?

Yes ntate, let me stop for just a little while. [We listen to the tape].
Now at your home how many of you were there?
At my home we are a ten and one unit.

Ten and one unit. Where are the others?
Three of them passed away [he mentions their names]. Yes they are three truly.
Section 2
Three have passed away?

Now those who have remained, where have they built?
These ones who have remained, we have built here in this place of Molika-liko here.

Molika-liko here?

What do they do?
Ache, they are people who are just staying who are working with fields, just like that. Their livelihood is fields or animals.

Yes, ntate. As for you how many children do you have?
My children are nine.

They are nine. They are still living here all of them?
Yes, ntate.

What do they do themselves? What do they work?
Ache, truly this eldest one here, he is... he once did this thing. He was still ill just like he arrived. This is the second week this one since he arrived. He was still in lefehlelong (ritual preparing people to become traditional doctor). He is the person, who is going for practising this one of being a secretary, this one of people like Shale in here at Likalaneng.

Your wife is still there?
Yes, ntate.

As for her, where is her home?
Right at Ponteng here at Ha Makhobalo there. Right at this place of Ha Tsapane.

How did you marry her? Can you tell me about the day you married her, as to how you married her, from the beginning?
I eloped with her.

You eloped with her?

Did you consult her or you just abducted her?
Yes, I felt that I loved her.

Yes, please tell me then, as to what you did then?
No, it was that I brought her here, and here she is staying and we have nine children with her.

Yes. Is it the case that you ever visit other villages near this one?
Section 3
Is it the case that you are a person who keeps visiting other villages, which are surrounding Molika-liko here?

You would be going there to do what in those other villages?
I just go to feasts, or it would be because I have been called by my relatives who know me, that I should go to feasts.

Oo from growing. The reasons that made you in the past which are they?
No, there are no other reasons.

Have you ever lived in the towns?

You worked for how long at the place of Europeans?
I worked at State Mine for a year. I worked at Rastipi for a year. I worked at Filifone for seven years. Khelek! (exclamation)! Now where I stayed it is in Jemistone. As for Jemistone I left...ah, these letikapta (helicopters) appeared when I was in Jemistone. Ah, it was long after I had been there. Even my passport can tell you.

Yes, ntate. You came back home here when?
My passport, banna, in fact I was handling it the day before yesterday here. [Calls somebody] “Matokelo!”

No, well when you just estimate, is it a long time since you have been at home here?
Khelek! It is a long time since I have been here at home truly. Because we left during that thing, which was called section 12, appeared here and they were saying Basotho we should come to our homes. We should buy houses there at Natalspruit when it was being built for the first time. They were saying we should buy houses, ache. Now I felt myself that I could not stand that I could buy a house there when I have my home area. That is the thing that made me leave truly.

And it was that you came back home here?

On your arrival here, you arrived and did what now?
My arrival here truly I arrived and just looked after these animals of mine. I just kept buying more of them. Up to even now I am still living on them. Even though it is that they are dying, they are doing somehow, I am still living on them. Up to the time when I married this woman, I was marrying with them.

You married her when you already came back from the place of the Europeans?
Yes, I was an oldish bachelor, mokutla (wise man) even.

Oo, yes ntate.
Do you not see this woman her first child is this one [pointing to his daughter inside the house]. The second one is a boy, he is there also, he is a young man. The third one, this child here, he is outside here. They are two children, for this third one.
Section 4
No, ntate, I hear ntate Tsatsi. Now ever since you came back home here, are you a person who sometimes goes to places like Maseru?
Yes, Maseru I sometimes go there because we used to join (sign up to go to the mines) there, Maseru, TY, Mafeteng.

Have you ever stayed a little in the lowlands here for some time that you might say you lived there for a while?
Ache, the life that I might say I lived other than I am just visiting my sister, at Ha Nkalimeng there, ache, or TY, no truly, Ha Motjoka. There is no place where I might say, or I am going there to work or somehow for livelihood that I say I am going to stay. I go when I visit only.

How do you see the life of there when you compare it with that of here?
Khelek! The life of there I see it as a life, which I feel I am not satisfied with, because I am not used to it.

How is it? How does it differ with that of here?
Khelek! Here at my home place I see it as being better because I am now used to it.

Is it because it goes according to being used to a place?
Ache, as for the life of there, as for me I see it as a difficult life because you...a person does not find... as to here at my home place we live ahead, you know? That food, even though drought is there, that is the punishment that is there. When food is there we live a nice life. Because on this second month, wheat is ready. Our cannabis is ready. We will buy food for our children. We clothe them. Now in the lowlands there you are waiting for a time when there might be with what would you live? On peaches when you no longer have strength for work, when you are no longer able to go to work, you cannot find work. Just like now, people are at work, our children do not find work right now. Now it is a thing like that. Now I find that the life of there is difficult truly because it is not usual to us. But then, people who are used to it say that the life of here is difficult.

They say the life of here is difficult?
Yes truly.

As for the people of there what sort of people do you think they are? The people who live in the lowlands there when you compare them to those of here?
Ache, as for the people of there, truly they are people who are actually people who have succeeded. In fact if I were to tell the truth, in so far as success is concerned they have succeeded more than the people of here, because where I can agree, they have food which is nice, which they eat because they are near butcheries.

Now they stay eating nice food?
Yes, truly, because now here as for us we just live on these vegetables of wild plants these green ones. Cabbage is rare. When a person has come, having fetched it and he sells it to us, he hits us so much so that a person would even fear as to how you will buy it.
Section 5
I hear, ntate. Now are there clinics nearby here?
Yes, Likalaneng.

It is at Likalaneng? People of here, do they use it?
Even here in my home village they sometimes make sure there is a clinic for the people of villages here, who have been trained so that they be nurses for the rural areas here.

Curing by the ways of custom - how is it in the village here?
The curing by the way of custom, which one? Of doctorship?

Yes that is, when it is not gone to the clinic when a person is ill, by the ways of Sesotho?
No, others are still there who know, truly they help people like that.

What about in your growing up, from the time when you arrived here?
Ache, in our growing up, as for us we have just been growing. Clinics were not there. We just lived on wild plants and we were helped by these people who were doctors. There was no clinic here, not even a European doctor. These things are appearing now of late. When we are already old, when we are old like this [takes off his hat to show grey hair].

Yes. Now Sesotho doctors also how are they? Are they still many?
They are many, ntate. They are many truly, a lot so much so that ache, they are many.

Even now?
Even now. Right here, because I could point out that they are many, they help out. They are still very useful to the nation. Because even injections, they know [how to do] them. Sesotho ones, the ones that we grew up by.

Yes, ntate. As for medicines, is it difficult for them to find?
No, it is difficult for them to find [medicinal plants] because they fetch them from far. They fetch them from far away. One of them might fetch it from where? Places like Machache there. Just like now, she is going… they are going to Ha Moshati (talking about his eldest daughter who is lethuela - a Sesotho doctor who uses herbs for medicines). They are going to Ha Moshati.

Yes, Ha Moshati there?
Yes, Pitsaneng. They are going there. Tomorrow she is going there. That is, [the search for medicines] is a thing which compels that. Now she might all of a sudden hit the road and go to Quthing, or places like Matatiele, or cross Mohokare there. Now in her search for that medicine – the one she has been instructed to go and dig up – do you see that it is found in a difficult manner?
Section 6
It is found in a difficult manner?
Because now, to go down from here, it is monies to go there. She cannot walk on foot you see?

No, ntate. In earlier days, is it the case that they struggled that much?
In the earlier days they were still struggling because when a person goes down, cruel thing with these people who are thoasa (inspired), she might go and be inspired for a medicine far away, or at the place of gold there. Truly, now their medicines truly, even though they make people pay with cows, it is understandable that even them they struggle truly, they fetch them from far.

Other than those that they get inspired for, as for others is it the case that they find them in a difficult manner here at home?
There is one that might be near, those that they can find nearby. But as for many, some of them are far. Or she might even board a vehicle and go where? Natal, to go and look in Natal. Now you hear that no, it is problems truly.

Yes, ntate. When you look, diseases that used to afflict people in your days when you were still growing up, is it the case that they are the same as those of right now?
Ache, as for me I see like the diseases of today are now skirileke (an Afrikaans word for unexpected). Because the disease of earlier which we hear being talked about, we hear it being said that other things were mokakallane (Spanish influenza of 1918.) A person there is a sickness called ngoaea (rash). Now, ache, right now as for me, I feel that I do not know. As for now, the diseases of now. When you realise, you will hear a person saying, “My back”, you will see them get swollen on the knees. When you say, ache, you will hear them saying “My head”. A person when they say “head”, tomorrow they wake up already being called a dead one this person. Now, we no longer know.

What do you think it is this thing which makes it that it be that these diseases are now different, that right now there are now diseases, these ones that you talking about now of late?

Could it be, you think, that the cause that it happens those diseases which afflict people right now, they differ from the old ones, you think the cause could be what?
That is to my awareness when I look, truly as for I do not know, or whether it is the change of the country, or it is a thing which these clever ones are just doing deliberately, I do not know. Truly, when you see people who even know how to stop the rain and make the sun stand still (cause drought), now would you say that as for sickness they cannot bring it about? That is they put sickness in people just so that you should leave and go to doctors and pay money.
Section 7
No, I hear ntate Tsatsi. Now in the village here in the past, the jobs that were done by men, what were they?
Jobs that were done by men here before, truly it is to build houses. It is to shear their sheep, they stayed at animal posts, the plateaus were not regulated. It was animal wealth that frightens here. Animal wealth that frightens when it is said wealth. We would go down from here, we would load donkeys, oxen, and go to Ha Makhale, Ha Makotoko. We would be going to sell wool, mohair there. Or we would go down going where? Ha Ntlama.

Ha Ntlama where?
Ha Ntlama, there, on that other side of Ha Mohatlane.

You should know that I think you are talking about another Ha Ntlama. Yes, I understand.
Yes, or right here at places like Telu-khunoana. It was where we were selling while we were still here. I know them all those places of there, all of them.

Now, right now what happens?
Right now there is way that a person when you have shorn, they say a thing is skiri (Afrikaans word for shearing shed). When you have shorn, you would then load it and take it to Ha Marakabei to the shops. In fact, at Fraser’s some go down and still go to Masianokeng.

But the jobs of men have changed now [compared] to those times of earlier?
Helek! These things have changed a great deal. Truly they have changed.

What happens right now?
Ache, these things of right now are a European way. Yes, they say it is the ways of now-now. There is nothing that is still the Sesotho of old... no truly. Even when you arrive at your home, at your house, your child, you treat it and you make as if you are a European. There is no longer a way that you might feel that you are a person. When you look at a child of a poor person you now say banna (Man!), this person is treating his child badly. Yet it would be that you are not pretending, but you are needy.

Yes. As for the ladies what were their jobs in the times of earlier?
Their job was that same one of weeding. They would brew beers and sell everybody was satisfied. Right now the bread called polokoe (steamed loaf of bread) do you still, even you do not know it when you are like this.

Yes, I do not know it. Even I hear of it when it is being mentioned.
It was that this bread of maize was made. It would be ground and then kneaded. And then the dough was crushed and then it would be moulded and you would find that they are big spherical loaves that big! They are taken to khotla (court for dispute resolution/meeting place), and they are arranged in a grass basket there. And it was that it would be with milks, sour milk and it is going to be eaten at khotla. Beer containers would be standing, there would be containers full of meats. It would be like a feast.
Section 8
Even you, during your growing up, it was still like that?
I grew up like that.

Now at khotla what did men do at khotla there?
At khotla there, there it was just that moraba-raba (chess-like game) is played, cards are played, and then there would the stories of men at khotla. Containers of beer would still be standing here in an arrangement.

They are brought by the ladies?
Yes, they are brought by the ladies, they come and feed. Meats, containers would be full like this!

Now, right now is there still a place where men sit?
No, truly. There is no longer even a lekhotla (court) where you can say me there, unless when you are going to khotla it is when you are going to the chief’s place [because you have been] sued. It is not there even if you were to go around your home area there. A lekhotla where you can say men go there first. There are no longer villages where you can say that men still go and sit at khotla. Me at my home area here I can show you there at Matebeleng. That village, we were helped by this collectivisation of villages. Yes, up there. We were helped by the collectivisation of villages, that khotla is still there, it was big.
These men, maize here, we would get maize here. We would just get it anywhere not considering whose field it was. We would get it, put together and the men would eat. We were brought loaves. We would eat with other children, they would eat there. From there we would go to the grazing areas (we would go herding). This meat would wrap it. We made these mokhahla (blanket made of roughly tanned hide), these ones of cowhide into provision bags. We used to wear matata (blankets made of tanned hide). If a donkey or a horse died, it was shoes for us. The first time we had shoes bought for us was after we came back from mephatong (initiation lodges). It was the first time we saw that a shoe is a thing that you are able to be bought, a shoe.

Now, how is it these days?
These days a small child you buy her a panty. You buy him underpants. That is, all things that you might be buying for yourself. You start from his bottom, you start him from the foot. You would rather his mother would say you would rather remain with your rags and clothe the child. But children were clothed, even with tsea (cloth worn by men and old boys). We had to find it for ourselves there at the ash heap, where if a piece of cloth or blanket was torn, you just make a belt for yourself from the piece of blanket and you are going to make a tsea. That is all.
Section 9
What about now?
No, as for now it is that a child should wear a shoe, he does not even walk barefoot. If you were to say he should walk barefoot, you would find them walking as if they have sore feet, truly cruelty. And we are so poor, ache. We are poor poverty.

Older people, as for them, during their days what did they do?
Older people, during their days beer would be brewed and they would call one another. There would be mehobelo (Basotho men’s dance), women ba khiba (do the Basotho women’s dance). And masokoana (sticks used to stir food) would be fetched. When the sun was standing (when there is drought) like this, women would run and go and chase lesokoana (plural of masokoana).

Not girls?
Not girls. Girls and women would come together. Mature women, they would throw lesokoana. You should see them when they go and fetch it there and start it and throw it, the girls taking and playing. The men there would be doing mehobelo, when they leave, the women ba khiba.

Now what about the men, when the sun was standing what did they do?
They would go from the village singing, going to fetch rain. They would say they are going to fetch rain. They would sing mokorotlo (war song) going there to the mountains and they would be going to shout and make mokorotlo. It would be that it would rain.

Can you sing for me those songs of those days if you still remember them?
Of what ntate?

Those same ones of when you are going to fetch rain?

Mokorotlo is it not it is still a thing this one of mabollong (circumcision). It is mokorotlo, you still sing it even here at home.

Is there not a single one which you still remember, which you used to sing when you were going to fetch rain?
Rain? No, me I used to see it being this same mokorotlo.

I hear. Now the elderly people these ones the aged, as for them what did they do in the village here?
In the village here?

Yes, their work was what?
Their work was to make these hides supple and sew matata. They also made these blankets supple, mekhahla. It was their jobs. They also made for the women of earlier. In those days people used to wear dresses made of hides. People did not wear these things of the Europeans ones. People wore dresses made of hides [laughter] truly, you know you will say we are speaking a lie.
Section 10
No, in fact those are the things that I want because me I do not know them.
Truly people wore dresses of hides. Men wore short drawers, of sheepskins. It did not matter whether a newly married woman had stiff muscles or she has done what, you just wear your drawers there. There was not even a shirt. You did not know what a shirt was.

Now, what did you sleep in at night?
Matata. Once you had bought this blanket, the white mephoso (woollen) one, this one with white lines this one of mohair. This white one with a lot of wool with white lines, that was the blanket for the children, even when they were visiting that was their blanket. Much later when things were changing, there appeared these other blankets when time went and when people started going to the shops. There appeared these blankets called masolanka (woollen). They actually appeared and spread. People even started throwing away these blankets made of hides, and then they started seeing these hides as something which was of no use. These changes, until even the Bathepu (a Nguni-speaking ethnic group found mainly in the southern districts of Mohale’s Hoek and Quthing) no longer wear the things that they used to wear. It is now one blanket. You will find a Mothepu wearing more than a Mosotho.

Did it happen that you often met Bathepu here?
I grew up in Quthing. All Baphuthi (another Nguni speaking ethnic group found mainly in Quthing). No, me even this thing of theirs, this thing. This Sefanakalo (a lingua franca spoken mainly in the mines comprising of languages of most of the ethnic groups found there). I did not [know it], I left there already knowing this language of Mazulu.

Now how was mutual respect between the elderly and the young during your days?
The mutual respect of the people of earlier times was good in a clean way. As for now, the children of now are completely fapana (different or disagreeable). They do not have respect completely, truly completely. There is not even one person who might promise themselves that their child is good, no.

In olden days what do you think made mutual respect be?
On that issue truly I cannot know because, it was people who I do not know, as to what could it be the sort of talk that they were given, was what, their children. I am saying just as I am. I still have an overflowing respect to a person. They can be older. They can be younger. But the children of today they, they are drunkards when he drinks beer here he insults you. He fights you, he feels strong relative to you, but his age-mates, he is afraid of them.

You think that thing is caused by what? That manners have changed like this?
Me truly I feel I do not know why these manners have changed. That is, this whole country, these children are by far, far different from the people of old.
Section 11
You think, as for drunkenness how is it from the past and nowadays? How is drunkenness these days compared to in the past?
The drunkenness of the past, it was old men. They just got drunk and were satisfied, they would fight and there would be no makhotla (courts or meetings). After they have fought there and injured one another, they just sit there and eat and that is all. There was mutual respect because they used to beat one another and there was no lekhotla. These days when a person starts to do such and such, you are already trusting that so and so will pay. I have seen him he is rich. I am already saying, “I will get him, I have seen him he is rich and in fact he has cattle, I will provoke him deliberately so that he will pay me and marry me a nyalla (to give cattle to a man to marry his daughter, used here to refer to the giving of cattle as compensation). In earlier days there was harmony because people would beat one another and there would be no chief [called to mediate]. The chief would not mind, not that people would be going to sue, no.

Khang ea monna e ne e khaoloa ke letlaka (Sesotho proverb meaning a quarrel between men) is resolved by?
Khang ea monna e ne e khaoloa ke letlaka. Even at maboelleng (areas where grazing was temporarily prohibited) there, we grew up. When we took cattle there at maboelleng, it was that you should fight. You should fight to refuse them (if the chief’s messenger tried to impound your cattle for trespassing, you should not surrender), by God’s truth.

Were they not apprehended?
No, you will fight that they should refuse. If they have defeated you only then would they be apprehended. If you defeat them there is no case. Khelek! We grew up in a difficult manner. Do you not see when the animals that you were looking after trespassed and ate mabele (damage caused by animals to any young crop). There, a person passing by on a horse, he would beat you and chase you with a horse. He would beat you and ask you why it is that the animals you are looking after have caused damage on crops in the fields. There would no case as to you were. If you tried to report the matter at home and complain of being beaten by a stranger they would say, “No, the animals that you were looking after had caused damage on young crops.” They would not even bother about you. Even when your father sees you here, and that person is beating you there, asking you why the cattle that you are looking after are causing damage, there was not even a question [raised by your father]. Right now, these children of today can try them (take no notice or defy them).

If you were the father of a child who is beaten by a stranger and you do not do anything about it, wouldn’t the boy’s mother say to you that you should lend her your trousers because you are afraid of other men?
No, truly, it is just cruelty. Now we do not know ntate, we were thinking that we were used to this land. Right now Molika-liko here it is now we are being made to emigrate. We are going to see other princes (chiefs). We are going to find another life, which we do not know well as to how it is. But you will see me arriving there at your home area, Rapa there. Me it is my home, you will see me just moving around there easily, I know all (those places) there.

Do you still move around?
Section 12
Now these days what makes you move around to go to such far away places?

By the way you said you would be visiting your relatives who have built there?
Yes, I have [a way] that when there are feasts or rituals, these other ones would sometimes tell us and say “A feast/ ritual is there”. They would be sent because even those in TY there... my sisters are there. One of them is at Ha Nkalimeng, the other one is at TY. They come and in fact those related to this one at Ha Nkalimeng passed here going to board a vehicle there at the tunnel. They had come for a feast right here at Bokong here.

Food. What was eaten in earlier days?
Ever since people have always eaten wheat, peas, lentils, beans, maize.

What are lentils?
Lentils, do you not know them?

No. Or could it be I know when they are called by another name?
Maybe, banna, I do not know how I can call them. [He asks his daughter as to what other name is used for lentils]. There is this cooked grain which is small, which is small, a small thing like this.

Is it planted or does it grow on its own?
It is planted. It is planted. It is very nice like this. Especially for this place of Matsiring here, if you were to visit that place at this time you will find it.

Now, it is eaten, what is done to it before it is eaten?
It is cooked like beans or peas.

Oo, it is made into likhobe (cooked grain).
Yes, it is made into likhobe. It is nice when it is cooked, it is overcooked. You eat it together with your papa (maize porridge, staple food) when you put fat in it. Nice seshabo (mouth-watering food such as meat, vegetables to add taste to food like papa) which you do not, cabbage you would not think about it. You eat nicely like when you are eating other food with peas or beans.

Yes now this fat, which one did you use?
This same one from the meat of big male sheep, these suets.

And now how have these things changed?
They have changed because animal wealth is finished. Grazing on plateaus is prohibited here. When I say that grazing on plateaus is prohibited, the plateaus are now the fields of the big chiefs. Right now you should know that grazing on them has been prohibited from day one of the fifth month. They have been shut.
Section 13
Until when?
Until they shall be opened by them according to their own liking. Maybe after Christmas during the second month or the third one. These animals have roamed around [looking for grass] when you see the rocks denuded like this.

Now what was done for the children? They were sung what kind of songs in the old days?
These songs of mokopu (literally, pumpkin). People used to beg songs from one another and play and they would go around here. This village or Seotsa or Ponteng they would go begging, these girls going to sing.

Singing these songs of mokopu?
Yes. And people would slaughter sheep and they would slaughter a sheep for these girls. When your daughter is going to sing at my home her having begged for songs, I slaughter a male sheep here. It is a feast. Now there is a lot of poverty here these days.

It is trouble.
Truly, it is just cruelty, ntate. [He scolds children]

Now right now the circumcision of earlier days how was it?
Circumcision of old was also better. This one of today you can see it is commerce. Me, I have not seen a child ea titimelang (going for circumcision without parental permission) here at home going to khotla and it be said that a child has gone for circumcision without permission. We knew in the past that when a person has gone for circumcision without parental permission it is when he has gone to the initiation lodge at the mountain on top there. Not here at home, and it be said that a child he has gone for circumcision without parental consent, why? It is just commerce. They have allowed commerce.

Now just tell me about the past, as to the circumcision of old how was it done.
Circumcision of old, when a person ba qacha (time spent prior to initiation at the house of the teacher in a separate temporary structure), it was that they would collect wood. When they collect wood, when they go to the mountain that is the day on which it would be said that a child o titimetse when he is in there, not here at home. Here right now there they are ba qacha there they are here, in that village, Matebeleng there. That child who is this much [gestulates a small child], if he were to go there and went into khotla it would be said that o titimetse. And yet there it is the women who are feeding there.

Right here where ba ntse ba qacha there?
Here, right here where ba ntse ba qacha. Now they are metitimelo (plural of titimela) of what kind if it is not a way of looking for business at the expense of the people. That the circumcision of now, is completely different ntate.
Section 14
You, when you were circumcised, how was it done? What did your father do or not when you were circumcised?
Me my father sought permission for me and I was circumcised. I went, he having sought permission for me, I did not pay wood because he had sought permission for me. He took me there properly, I was circumcised. I finished truly, my initiation. He called me and I came here at home, I arrived and recited my praises here, he slaughtered a sheep, and so on. We even went, we even went as far as Mantonyane Ha Chono there. When I first knew places like Chono Mantonyane there.

Do you still know your praises of your passing out?

Just say them a little so we can hear?
[Laughs] He banna, me, me I was:
Khahleli oa ‘Malere le Phalea
Lere le Phalea le otla chitja
Le otla e libato mahetleng

Do you hear now that I still know them.

Yes, truly I hear them. Now when you look at the thing that you were taught at the initiation of those days of yours, comparing it with this one that these ones of nowadays come having been taught, how do you see it?
No, it is completely different ntate hle. It is different truly. You should hear when I say that the circumcision of now is different. It is different. That is it is no longer initiation it is commercialism now. That is truly, it is commercialism.

That is in the old days the purpose of initiation was what?
The purpose of initiation earlier is that it was a thing which would be, the things of there at the mountain would not be brought down and be brought home here. Now of late the things of there they bring them here at home, they bring them to the courts here. It is very different, circumcision nowadays it is no longer initiation that thing hle ntate.

Now, in those days at the mountain what were you taught? That is, well those that you can tell me.
We were taught that we should respect elderly people. Just like any other child if you are a teacher which will teach that you should respect elderly people, your parents you should respect them.

Now these days what do you see like it is taught?
No, now me I do not trust it the thing that they are teaching. On the day that they pass out you will see them at the cafes here. Tomorrow when you become aware, you will hear it being said that he has already taken a person’s daughter and he has eloped with her. [And all he has] is just that one blanket [he is wearing] and that gumboot that has been bought for him, and that leqapa (cloth worn by men). You are going to start from [grade] A buying him a pair of trousers, you buy for even the wife a dress. The wife’s relatives are asking for cattle from you this side. It is not even... ache, no ntate, it is not initiation this one of today it is completely different hle. It is no longer initiation it is commerce.
Section 15
How are they the charges there?

Charges for circumcision?
And they are also expensive, they are expensive. Right now you should know that that man these boys when ba ntse ba titimela, it is so much money. Because one (the owner of the initiation lodge) might all of a sudden say hundred rand. You cannot say as to whether one, right now when they are increasing (in number) that hundred rand he is taking it until they come out, how much money would it be? That is truly, it is commercialism here. In those earlier times it was said that, even if a person was said to be expensive, if he said a pound, it would be said that he is expensive that person. Because wood was, when wood is God’s here. That is you can ask yourself even there, not this motitimelo of home here, at the mountain there. Here right now these children... I am saying a child might go to khotla there. All of sudden it is said that o titimetse. But there the women are still going in, they are fed by the women right here at home. You should wonder as to what kind of titimelo that is that one.

Now when you hid yourselves (qacha) in the old days, women did not enter khotla there?
Ha re ntse re qacha (when performing the ritual of ho qacha), we would perform it, women would still be going in, we would be fed by the ladies right here. On the day that it is said that they the boys have thobetse (run away) they have gone to the mountain, that is the day now- in there it is understandable that it is at the initiation lodge you hear, ba titimetse, not here at home.

Mosuoe (the teacher) it was what kind of person who was chosen in the old days?
They used to choose mature people. A mature person that is, what was needed was a person. Mature ones who look after people’s children well. That they should look after people’s children well.

Right now, mesuoe (plural of mosuoe) of today?
Aa, right now they just take even a nonentity that small; these makoloanyane (a recently initiated man) who do not know anything, they are the ones who are going to be basuoe (instructors in initiation lodges). You might all of a sudden hear it being said that right now, in there, they are setting dogs at people’s children in there ba ntse ba qacha in there. Which is a thing which, is far from the law that one. It is far. It should not be that now ha ba qacha in there, these children of people. These things when they appear there, we have long been. It is praises of the boys we have long been singing (reciting praises) right in there. When you see things there going to the initiation lodge you drive them away. They should go away. They should pass so that their owner should drive them away, because maybe he has not been there (he has not been initiated).
Section 16
Oo, yes, you are helping him?
I am helping him. I go with them and drive them, “No man, drive your animals”, he should go. It is not even a mistake. Now these ones [of today] set dogs at them and they chase them away, they now claim that they have been peeping at them (in the initiation lodge). And the animals of a person would end up causing damage at the fields in there. What do those basuoe do in there? That is not justice that one ntate. No, the circumcision of today is different.

What about the things of witchcraft, how are they?
Helek! As for witchcraft it is rife. It is rife even now; no, ache, as for it has always been a thing of old me I do not know that thing which is called witchcraft.

In the old days how was it?
It is still there the witchcraft of old. Hae! As for it, it is not a thing which might be - or whether it is fashion. Me when I first saw a witch I think it is a thing called a person. It is an animal called a person. It is medicine that he buys for himself. In earlier days it was still witchcraft. Now you can say I am lying when I say my mother beat up my sisters, here saying they had cut my hair. She tried to shave my head. It was like this [showing a hairless spot above the left ear]. She tried to shave me it was like this. Up to even now.

The hair was not growing?
It does not grow. And then they said ache, it has been shaved by the witches. Now I do not know as to these witches. That is, being a child. Being a child coming out of lehlaka reed.1 Truly up to now. Now do you see that witchcraft is a thing of old. No, as for it, it is not only arriving now.

Now of late how is it?
Hae! The witches of today, it is even worse because it is the same as this thievery which is worse. The thieves of today no longer take, they are contemptuous. The theft of earlier was better, when a person stole, he stole one sheep to eat and you would see that that person feels like eating meat. These ones take your whole kraal (livestock enclosure). It, the kraal, would remain dry and grass would even grow - cruelty, ntate. Just now here, recently here they just wrote a letter they were saying “You have planted and you have finished, now you make sure that le hlabise barali ba lona, le ba felehetsang ba felehetse (those of you who have to perform marriage rituals for your daughters should do so; and even those who have to perform rituals for the departed should do so).
These cattle of theirs they are going to take away. Together with old people of our age and our wives they are taking us to their animal posts there. [Laughs.] You hear that when they take you, they take you together with these cows of yours, or when they capture your cattle they are going to capture me by force together with this wife of mine. They say she should go and cook for the herders at their animals’ posts there. These herders are these things of people who they are taking her by force. And as for you, you should continue to. You should ratha patsi (literally, cut wood)2 so that this wife of mine should continue to live. Now truly, this thing - aoe banna. The contempt that is there of the theft of now. God’s truth, no. Ntate truly should I tell you, they just write to you they say “You should know that this same evening we shall arrive!”
Section 17
They tell you?
Yes, truly they say “In the evening you should know that when the dog says ‘habu!’ (barks) you should know that it is us”. Truly you will think that they are joking. Just as you appear here and open the door they burn you. You will hear them (guns) going at the same time saying “haha-hahaha”. Truly you will go back. They drive the animals away straight. You will not appear there at the door.

Now, they are people who come from where?
We do not know. They are these people ntate, these ones who are, that is, it is this same Lesotho. They are not people who we can say they come from countries which are far. They are people of here. Right now they say in Lesotho here (in the lowlands), their cheques take a long time to arrive. They say we are cheques. “Our cheques are taking a long time to come and Christmas is near like this”. You hear that they say they will take even a donkey. We are going to be killed and it is said that there is a lot of money.

And you are their cheques?
Yes, cheques are us. He banna, things that happen! You know truly you can laugh. That is you can be angry and [then] laugh.

Truly, it makes one laugh; lefu le holo ke liteho (literally, laughter is the biggest disease; a proverb normally used in a situation where one finds something to laugh at, when the next person relates a sad things that happened to him).
Truly, because during day like now, when he appears here. If a person were to even, if it was still here in the pocket here. If I were to produce it, you would never produce it. You will not put a hand in the pocket there. If a robber were to produce his gun before the victim, the victim would produce his gun even if he had one himself. It is just that you should just wait - “thu!” (the sound of a gun). Now you will find that they have done during the day. You hear that these monies, these ones which are being counted, or whether they say we have cheated these people. It is a lie they are just chasing us out from here, and those one are looking at us and they say we are their cheques. They are taking that large amount of money out of us, that one which has been mentioned in all kinds of rands, which is a lot. You know, you are going to die for an egg when you have not eaten chicken. Truly it is just cruelty. You should hear when I say they were saying we are cheques. They were saying, “Ache, these cheques of ours are so slow in coming”. [Laughter]

And you are laughing?
So much so in fact that Christmas is close like this, these cheques are refusing to arrive. When you remember that the cheques, they are saying it is us. He banna, you know truly- he banna, you would realise for the first time that banna... You know emigrating, when you are being made to emigrate, there is no thing which is as painful [as that]. Because if a person you were taking yourself there (emigrating voluntarily), you would be liking that well - I am going to another place. When you hear that we are already being threatened and it being said that we are cheques, they (the cheques) are slow in coming and Christmas is nearing. You know it is just cruelty ntate.
Section 18
The chiefs who rule here as for them, what sort people are they, how are they?
The chiefs who rule here?

Ao, these chiefs who rule here are far from the old rule. Is it not said that a wolf is eaten at the chief’s place (a proverb meaning any big matter is discussed or dealt with at the chief’s place). As for now there is no longer a wolf which can be eaten at the chief’s place. A chief wants to live on you and finish you. You should pay tribute to him; he should finish this wealth of yours. It would be only then that you would [be allowed to] settle.

That is, the chiefs now are not like the ones of earlier?
No, truly. The chiefs of earlier times, there used to be loaves cooked. For example, there at Mpiti Lebesele’s, these loaves would be cooked here, hunger was unknown. My father, even if there was no harvest from the fields, he would not stay with hunger. Loaves used to be cooked. She would carry loaves on her head, she would carry sour milk on her head. She would carry on her head and take a tinful (about 24 gallons) of sour milk, she would carry a tinful of butter milk, this milk of butter milk, and take fresh milk. It was just plenty. If fact, I used to herd cattle from the chief’s place, the same ones of Mpiti Lebesele.

What about those [issues] of herding, how was it when you were herding, when you were growing up and you were herding?
Ao, those of herding, as for them ntate, ambushing (by girls or boys of similar age from other villages) was still our thing of intercepting of herders. There was no quarrel, it was just a nice thing. People used to just fight, they would beat one another and there would be no court case. That is all, in our growing up.

What about now?
Ao, as for now it is just court cases, ntate. Ao, as for Maseru, it is these fights ntate. Even when I arrive in Maseru, they tell you that it is Tsatsi Motseki, oho! “You should know that he has fought.” You would hear them say down where the jail ends, ‘C’ there. They say “he has fought, it is him”. Ao, ntate, if I had taken a thing of the past and especially I stayed at the place of gold. No, there they finished me these people. They had me arrested. He they had me arrested monna (man). If beer had just been drunk, they knew that as for me, ao. I am already...they already knew that tomorrow I am in a court case. Now, the treasury (court of law) was still here. It would happen that when I kick these little books, it would be that I am gone, I bolt. I would beat these same treasury officials I am gone, when I come back by God I would beat these treasury officials. When I come back I would find that my cases are now many. When they lodge a summons for me I am gone. I just go to Germiston (where he used to work). I just stay at the airport there at the place of aeroplanes. That place of yours I came to know when I used to get off [buses coming from the mines] at TY there, Rapa at the village.
Section 19
Tobacco as for it how is it in the village here?

Yes, cannabis.
Cannabis, he! As for it, there was plenty of it, there was plenty of it. Last year there was so much of it, with me! [Whistles.] No, this year I see that I have been badly punished. All my fields, that is, the life that I will live I do not know what kind of life it will be. Truly, I take a small quantity. I put it back. I do and undo, I am confused as to what to do.

Is it the case that cannabis is also afraid of drought?
It refused to grow. Worms have eaten it.

Yes, worms.

Now, you do not have anything this year?
No, truly.

Now are there things that women do in the village here, which they sell perhaps?
That is, some still have a means that some [children interrupt]. Yes, ntate.

Yes, we were on that point that as to whether there are some who do still make things that they sell like that?
That is, their sale, it is when they fetch clothes for themselves here, and then they would sell them.

There are no things that they do? They do not weave things like meseme (grass mat), hats, things like that?
Ache, they are sometimes woven by those who... [interruption]

Oo, it was when we were there on the point as to whether there are no people who weave things like meseme.
No, ntate. Some are there who still know how to weave here. They sometimes sell brooms.

In the past were droughts frequent?
Ache, in the past plenty was here, good harvest was here. No, truly these droughts appear this now of late, truly. Now of late it is now that drought. The thing that was here ntate, plenty was here. It would be that grain baskets are grey at this time.

Now what about now?
No, as for now, no ntate. I think you can also see in Lesotho (in the lowlands) there as to the drought of nowadays, as to of what kind it is. It is no longer like that of the days when you were born. Rain used to rain. It is no longer like that time when we were growing up. The drought of nowadays, the fields have mostly not been ploughed right now. Even in Lesotho here, people are surprised, it is grey, it is cracked it is like this.
Section 20
It is refusing?
Truly, it is refusing. Right now it is this wind, you saw that it was like it was going to rain. Here it is it is gone because of this wind. It is the rain of here that is all. Now as for drought, right now ntate, it would be that the cows have given birth, there is nothing that comes out of them (by way of milk), because it is dry, there is nothing that they eat, rain does not rain. It would be that you do not need that we are promising you plants. There are the calves there, nothing comes out of them. Truly, it is just a pitiful scene.

There is no milk?
It is not there, hle ntate truly, frightening hunger. It is the same as there being no cows that have given birth. Because they do not produce nothing. It is dry, there is nothing that they eat. Here it ought to be that it is Christmas. Have you seen that at Christmas, what would you say cows eat right now when it is like this? It is usually the case that cows eat and become full, right it ought to be that there are milks, ke maphola (they graze early), sour milks are full here. Truly no, right now it is just an empathy invoking situation this year ntate. He, in fact this one [year], no it is more dangerous this one.

Let us come with this matter which is being talked about greatly right now, this one of being made to emigrate - for you how do you see it?
Ntate, as for it truly, that is, altogether, we tried to refuse to bend, they tried to fight for us. The first person is this same Tehlo he fought, truly, it is even that he has let his neck drop they have defeated us because even our chiefs are the ones who have made the principal chiefs eat us. As for them, they found money a long time ago.

The chief of the mountain (an expression used to favourably refer to the principal chief of Thaba-Bosiu under whose jurisdiction the Molika-liko area falls)?
Yes, the same Khooabane. He is the one who let the yoke fall. He was here. It was full at a pitso (meeting), here which was at Mohlakaneng there. Masopha tried to say he was refusing to bend. It was that he (Khooabane) had won.

Masopha, the chief of Matsieng?
Yes. People gathered here. No, baba (Zulu for ntate) truly, Masopha even spoke and said, “It is your chief who has made that thing”. Now we do not know as to what we can say. He was present here, Masopha here. Truly we have been sold. Now we no longer have, we no longer know altogether. We have even agreed that well, now that it is that you are making us emigrate, because we do not know as to what we shall do. When they say they are coming, when we refuse, they are going to make dams here. They say those ones actually said they are going to burn us. They are going to burn and make holes (drill holes and fill them with dynamites and blast the place) and make these houses of ours fall with stones there. The holes are going to burn and there will be no place where you can complain, where can you complain. Now, it is here now where the people all of them have agreed. They say “Ao, we would rather leave, there is no use. Remove us.”
Section 21
But as for you, your feelings when we put aside. Your feelings as for you what are they regarding all these matters?
As for me my feelings truly altogether I did not want, now because of being defeated, that we do not know, I have actually come to agree. What can I do? I would refuse and of what use will it be? Truly to refuse alone, what use would you be when these people have let their necks fall after having tried to refuse. And it happened that Khoaabane said “The land is mine, as for me I am saying there all of it, Molika-liko has been taken, it has been affected”. These lands that are there, there where you can see those people all of them there, that road there where it starts, where the road starts there it is just complaints. People have been affected. There they are they are being built for as for them, they are already being built for. Their houses most of them, theirs there have been completed over there yonder at Koporale’s at the tunnel there. Right now tomorrow they are coming down, those ones who are going to Matalas. They are going down tomorrow. When they come back they are going to take us the group of Makotoko’s.

Oo, as for you, you are going to Makotoko’s?
Truly, ntate. I was alone. It happened that when they see the place, when I was saying I was choosing for myself, and I was still aiming at those places like your home area, in there, I know all of it to go places like TY. I know, all of its places like Malimong there, I know all those places. I was actually saying- “Ao, it went pu!” (most people followed his example and chose the same place). No, even the chief of there has taken all win that chief, Makotoko. Makotoko Makotoko. By God he has taken a win where people [who have chosen to settle in his place] are concerned. Even those who are on my side are at Matebeleng. There they are all saying “Makotoko’s”. Even at Seotsa’s in there they are all saying “Makotoko’s”.

What was it that you saw at Makotoko’s?
As for me the matter that made me go to Makotoko’s, I was looking at agriculture. Fields, it is a place which was said to be linkonkotieng (a place of noisy bars), all of it there. It was a place where we used to sleep when we left here (on their foot journey to Maseru on their way to the mines). Beer was sold, they used to call the place linkonkotieng. The fields there are good. That valley is good where rain falls. As far as places like Thota-Peli there. All of it (the area) as far as places like Moteea there at Tseetsana. They are places that I know as far as there, at places like Molahli. They are all places I know there. As far as places like Moharasoana there, places like Moqhau there. No, these places I used to leave from here and herd cattle there. Places like Moqhou there, at places like Ramaqhanyane’s there, I know them all.
Whereas as for those ones of your home area, Ao, Thupa-kubu there I just pass without stopping. I was looking at that pasture. And also that well, khelek! At Ratau’s there a lot of fields at Tholo’s. Now, there is no place where a cow can go and graze. It is just mahalo (?). As for the fields they are big. The gardens of people on which there now grow only aloes where there are no longer any people, khelek! By God, as for them they are, as for them well, in so far as fields are concerned I am thankful. But fields want a person who does not have animals. But now you will plough with what those fields? What does an animal eat?
Section 22
How big is your herd?

How big is your herd?
Ache, as for my sheep they are badly finished ntate [reprimands children]. My goats are finished ntate. They were many. They died. Thieves took them, you know, they stole them. By God’s truth they just left me a few goats.

And now you no longer have anything?
No, they stole them. My animal post was there, on top of that cliff over Matebeleng there, they stole them ntate, hela. My brother-in-law even died at Nkalimeng’s. I found that they had stolen them when I was thinking that I was going to bury him. Before I became aware of what was happening donkeys went missing at Motlesi in here. They stole them to the last one. On the third time they now came and finished them off completely. They left for me this, many old sheep [gestures three]. No, ntate, I was a complete man. I was even refusing [to stay] at home here.
I was just staying at the animal post. Ao, they have shed me of leaves ntate. Now they are shedding me of leaves that the old man (referring to himself) is gone! Now he is tired. I had thought that I had worked, I will eat properly, akha, they have shed us ntate, just like I am saying. They are looking at you right now. When you become aware, when they arrive, truly they invade. They take them by, when they have left you with this one of truly. He, they are so cruel thieves of today banna. The thieves of earlier were better ntate. They took one animal and slaughtered and you would see that that person feels like eating some meat.

Now as for Makotoko’s there, how is theft?
The whole world, there is no place where I can say theft is not there ntate. Truly as for there, it would be that I am lying to you, all over. They beat them in there in such places as... Moshati’s in there you will find that they have crushed them and crushed them. This same so and so in here Mosuoe, he says he sets [his] people on them to kill them, they do not stop. Masopha tried this and that trying to kill them and do what to them, this same Masopha of Matsieng, he has given up truly. They have now become even worse, by God’s truth. As for me I told him to his face when we were with him, here I said, “You have been beaten truly. You tried to try you have been beaten”. When they take ntate, they do not take so that- they take, I say they take them, I say all of them. All of them, do not think that out of twenty they have left you with even one. You would find this kraal dry. You would try to jump and jump.

They have taken them?
A European is there in here. The one of Satan this one of Sarele in here of a thief. This one the chief of thieves Sarele, when he arrives they say he does not buy paper, as for him he buys cattle (he does not care whether the cattle he is buying have proper documents showing whose they are etc). If they just leave in this line (take this direction), and they arrive there... a European is there they say he arrives there, they cross. They are gone, to the [South African mine] compounds, they are eaten at the compounds there. As for you are looking for them here. By God’s truth.
Section 23
Now, well, you have said (accepted) that it does not matter you are emigrating?
Truly ntate, I do not have a choice. That is, as for there (on that issue) we were fighting a fight, thinking that in the end they would sympathise with us, unlike so and so. These people like Mokhehle, we have voted for them they were saying that they represent our interests, people like this Shakhane, people like Monyane Moleleki. Akha. I saw him here running around here. Do you see that his time is up again (the time of the current parliament is over and there is due to be another election soon). Monyane Moleleki he was here, running around here. There is no person who will vote for him again here. Coming to, he would be electing him for him to do what?
Truly, when we thought that they were representatives, Mokhehle started off well. At his beginning, in his youth Mokhehle we used to go about with him. Here we would go to a pitso, he would hold it at Liklaneng. He would speak important words, which eventually drove him out and made him cross the oceans. It happened that when he came from the oceans, he tried this and that, he found that they had demolished it, that foundation. Now each time he tries to speak he says “A bloody seat I cannot sit on it”. He sits on it! Who has made it bloody? He banna, ao the danger is there by God’s truth. Ntate, as for now we have been defeated.
As for me truly, well, I am speaking the truth, I am saying that this thing has destroyed us. Right now, these papers here when you leave here, they are saying they are doing for us. Can you tell me, fields. A field of mine is here. If you could see it by the wayside, which has been ploughed on this side and on the upper side it has not been ploughed. It has this many (three) fields, which are substantial. But that field they are saying, a field of its size there, of the chief’s here of ’Matsapane, they say that it is this many hectares (two). They say that it is two hectares. A field which has three these many fields, it is three tractors. (the narrator seems to have ‘lapsed’ into using another borrowed word which approximates to ‘hectare’; a word which translated back means ‘tractor’).
You know we are going to be cheated cruelly here, cruel cheating. That is, here we are in misfortune. Two tractors, that is what is meant? A tractor as for me truly where it is said a tractor, they were in fact stepping (measuring) in a European way, like this. They were not stepping like a black person. [They were stepping like a European] who makes a long stride, le katang who does like this (gestures a big stride) and then they say that that field can be this many tractors (two)? That field has many these many substantial fields (three). But they say it is hectares, it is this many hectares (two). Even if you were to ask here ‘Matsapane and said “Your field I hear it being said it has how many hectares’; she is bewildered. Where can you go and fight for it?
Tehlo here, he is he has been running around, people like this Hlabathe they have long been running around and they have failed. He was with a European who was saying he was taking our grievances no, he has failed. Truly he has failed ntate, I no longer even know as to his language, that is, it is no longer known, as for them because he takes- this construction (in preparation for the building of the dam) is still going on. Now the end now, Khooabane is again they say he was at pitso there that, “if he is still saying he is waiting, saying he is not going away from there, leave him and just demolish on top of him there”. You hear now that even if you were to die there is nowhere where you can take them. Now, instead of not refusing is it not better that we should leave? A person should just take your few belongings and go and see where you are going to suffer, whichever way you suffer you should suffer. Right now you might all of a sudden see us arriving there at places like Telu-khunoana there already saying “Hela, I am going to Ropa at the village there”. I shall ask until I find your name until I find it.
Section 24
Ache, I am thankful ntate Tsatsi.

Well, I am also thankful for your time which you gave to me truly so that we could chat.
Yes, ntate.

End notes
A house occupied by a mother and her newly born baby is marked by two reeds inserted into the roofing on top of the entrance on either side of the door and men are not allowed to go into such a house. After a certain time these are removed and a baby is said to have come out of the reed

The expression ratha patsi (literally - to cut wood) is sometimes used in a metaphorical sense to mean attending to a woman’s needs - emotional, material, sexual etc - while the husband is away. It is not clear here whether it is being used in a literal sense or in this metaphorical sense.