photo of person from Lesotho the maluti mountains
Lesotho glossary












November 1997



Section 1
Ntate Moleleki, I shall start by asking as to you were born in what year?
As for the year I do not know well truly but the years can be three tens and two units.

Is it the case that you have already married?

You have how many children?
I have four children.

Is it the case that they all attend school?
It is two who attend; well as for one, God took this fourth one. Now those who are still living there are three, one is a boy and two are girls

What about your parents?
I no longer have parents, both of them.
Would you know as to your parents when they came, they were coming from where?

Yes, ntate. They were in here, below my home area, here at Ha Ntsie at my father’s home area. They were still people of this region, but that side yonder up there in that last village.

What about their coming here?
To here it is only me who emigrated.
[There seems to be a bit missing here in the transcript which the narrator must have referred to his or his father’s movement from one place to another being connected to the collectivisation of villages]

When there was a collectivisation of villages, you mean when they were doing what?
Then there was a collectivisation of villages, it is when it is said that people should move, just like now when we are being made to emigrate and being taken to another place.

The reasons for which they were being moved, which ones were they?
They were being moved because, it was being said that there, on top there, were animals and they were grazing there and now they were rolling stones. And [there was fear that] they would roll them, on the people, and it was being said that they should come to top.
Section 2
Can you tell me as to during your growing up in this village, as to in what way you were growing up?
Just like we were children, we were still growing up well, but there was no problem like when you are mature.

You mean what kind of problem?
Because we were children we were fed, and now we are now men it is now that we start to see that it is difficult.

You said you were three tens and two units years. Is it the case that you attended school?
I did not attend it.

Yes, ntate.

Most of the time of your youth you spent it doing what?
I was herding. I was herding my father’s cattle. Now they are no longer there because I have married a woman with them. There was no longer anything; even my elder brothers have married. Well, I once even went to the mines.

You went to the mine in what year?
In 1977.

You were how many years in 1977?
No, I am confusing it with when I married in 1977.

You were how many years?
I was a young man.

Yes, when you estimate, your years could have been how many?
I had crossed two tens.

You were already working at a mine?
Yes, ntate, I was already working at a mine. I could have been two tens which have units.

That was when you went to the mines?
Yes, ntate.

In what year?
In 1977 it was when I married, now the year on which I went to the mines I am not certain about.
Section 3
You married when you had worked in the mines for how long?
I married on the fourth year of working in the mines.

You say when you married you had two tens of years which have one unit. Which means that in 1977 you had 21 years.
Yes, ntate.

In 1987 they became 31. Which means that in 1997 they are 41, they are not 32 as you say.
Ache, it would rather be it is me who is forgetting, as them they are 32.

You are saying they 32. But you married in 1977 when you were 21.
But I do not know, but I think it was in 1977 when I married.

You have how many years since you married, staying with your wife?
They are now long, because I have a young daughter who might be married any time.

Who has how many years?
Who is one ten and five units, besides this one who passed away, the elder one. The one who comes after her is 15.

When we pass there I would like to ask you to actually explain to me the story of your life in the mines, tell me the reasons that took you there and those which brought you back.
The reasons that took me there, I now wanted to work for myself, I no longer wanted to work with these other people, who you spent a year and then it would turn that you work for one thing. Now, I wanted that I should work in months like that, so I could see as to what I could do. That is the only thing that took me there.

Your life in the mines, what about it? Life in general?
I was still living well. It is only that work got spoiled (lost his job).

For what reasons?
It got spoiled for the reasons that our mine, it happened that when it was closed, we did not understand to go where it was said that we would be taken and now it was being said that we should go and start from the bottom again. It cannot be that when we are already high then we would go back and start money at the bottom again.

It was in what year?
Well, as for the year I have now forgotten.

You have how many years staying here at home?
I have ten [years of] it.

Can you tell me as to when you were growing up, the ways of relaxing in the village here? The ones that you specify which were the real ones, which you see that they are no longer there these days, which ones would you point out?
Ach, the ways of these days, ntate, are no longer similar to the earlier ones. We grew up knowing elderly people (knowing to make a distinction between one’s age mates and elderly people and respecting them). Now, right now, I see children of people get spoiled, doing all these things which you cannot know. As for us, when we married we still respected ourselves. We were not chased around by other people’s children; and when an elderly person approached, and say I was with a girl, I would not stand there, I would leave. Now these ones know that the only one they will respect is the father of that girl. That is the thing I see that, well, things are no longer the same as before. Even a child - a girl - respects her father only. If it is just any person, she does not respect them.
Section 4
Yes. I mean entertainment during your growing up; you entertained yourselves by ways of what kind?
We would just go and just herd. As for us we did not have time for enjoying ourselves. We grew up at animal posts.

Oh, you grew up at animal posts?
Yes, at animal posts. We used to come home only when we came to take lipabi (ground roasted maize mixed with salt and sugar).

As for lebollo (circumcision) did you go?
Yes, ntate.

Was it a must in your days to go for lebollo?
No, well, as for it, it was always the case that it was not binding, if you did not want to go, you could just stay.

Is it still there, right now?
Yes it is still there.

When you compare right now and earlier, do you see that there is a difference?
Yes, ntate.

You can pinpoint which difference?
Yes, these people have now turned lebollo into commerce. Because, where I say they have made commerce, it is the matter that I make a request for my child, he wants to go there, it is said that I should produce R110.00 and yet I have made a request for him. Now, even when he has just gone a titimetse (without parental permission), I still have to produce more money.

When a titimetse is when he has done what?
It is when he has gone there without having consulted me.

When he has gone without consulting you, how much do you produce?
I produce R200.00. Now when I have made a request for him I produce that R110.00.

Earlier as for you what did you do?
If you had been requested for, I did not pay anything. I would just pay the one for an tlhaka (incision) only which was R5.00. The one for incising me only.
Section 5
Now in those days, when I believe, that money was something that was difficult to find, how did you work it so that you found money?
Is it not that well (it was not that easy?), little money when you had this, because you could negotiate, you would produce it at a time. You pay the little that you have; you will still come and finish. You do not pay cash.

Right now, the way of living, now that you are no longer going to the mines, which one is it?
Well, there is no means by which I live, it is just tricks. I would not actually call it a livelihood. It is just the arithmetic of a man only.

By the arithmetic of a man, what would you point out?
Because I can point out that I do not have a field. When I do not have a field like this, I have a few small plots which are not a field. Now I am just working together with people, and in winter they give me food and I manage to eat with my children. That is why I say it is tricks.

By working together with people you mean what kind of working together?
Right, people are weeding, I go to your field and I go there and weed. In winter at a time of harvesting, you give me a bag of grain, I come with it home. That is the working together that I am doing.

But I see, like people of your age in the village here, each one of them has a field. How does it come that you happened to be without it?
Truly I did not get it, when I was looking for it they said the land was finished. Especially, the thing that I saw it was the administration that was there at that time. If the chief who took me to the place of gold, the one who wrote a letter for me when I was going to the place gold, if God had not taken him, perhaps I could have found a field.

He is the chief who wrote you a letter so that you could go to the place of gold?

Is it not that your parents ask for a form for you from the chief’s place. And then that form is filled, your parents fill it, when they have finished they take it to the chief’s place, and then the chief signs his name, he writes each and everything that he fills there. Then it is only then that you can manage to get a passport there.

The form that you are talking about is the one for passport, or is it a form which requests [permission] for you to go and work in a mine?
It is the one for a passport, there was also a letter which he used to write that that person has left to go to the place of gold, so that they can see that I did not desert. It is to testify that I have not deserted.

Who did he write to?
I would go with it and produce it when I arrive there.

Was that the manner in which you would find employment?
Yes ntate.
Section 6
Right now when you want a passport for your child what do you do?
You will still fill that form.

Where do you find it?
You find it right there at the chief’s place. You fill it and then he stamps it. You take it there. You go there with the child, and get there and take a passport for the child.

That letter is still there?
Yes, it is still there.

The one that states that the person has not deserted?
Yes, it is an agreement. But that letter goes if the child goes on his or her own. But if the child goes with you, it is evidence that his parent has allowed him to go to work.

Now that you have shown that you are a person who once herded a lot, who grew up at animal post, and have also gone to the place of gold in these two places, the cattle posts and the lowlands, which places do you feel that you would feel that it is nice if you were to live there?
Ach, because I am now used to the mountains, I am not able to go to the lowlands. A town I used to go to in the lowlands... I went to it a lot and now I am not able to go to that place. I stayed for a long time; I know the life of there.

Which ones would you specify when you tell me, the ones that you can pinpoint as the ones that would not make you happy were you to live in the lowlands?
Other than in town?

That is if we were talk about the town or the lowlands like that.
Is it not that there [are] places outside town, there is the town proper.

If you can tell me about the town itself and the lowlands.
In town there, if you are to eat you must eat with money. You must find money. It is said that there is something called a “piece job”. You take it that day and you go and work at a person’s place, in the evening when you knock off you come back with sokanyana (small change), you go and you buy food. Tomorrow when the night ceases, you are once again gone. You are going to hunt [for work] again. Now when you come back from there, sometimes you have not succeeded to find. Now there in town, it is very cruel because on the day that you have not found [work], how are you going to sleep? Now, in these other places that are outside - that is outside town - it is still better, because if you have an animal you can manage. A person might say, “Let us plough there”. When you have an animal you manage, and can eat with your children. That is it is still the same as here.

But I thought I heard you say that you do not like it in the lowlands?
Yes, ntate.
Section 7
The lowlands not only taking the town, the villages, which are a little outside town.
No, as for them it is not that I do not like them. I only do not like it there (in the town), that is, from here places like Ha Leqele here. Ach, they are not places that I like those ones, there are no fields.

Here in the mountains, especially you have pointed out that you are happy with what? The thing that we might actually say you are especially happy to stay in the mountains here, what is it?
In the mountains, here I am happy with [life] because if I come to you, [if] I arrive and say my children slept with hunger, in situations like that we have made each other accustomed to the fact that you give me some flour and I go and eat with my children. I will still pay you back at some point when I have gleaned. Now there, in the lowlands, there is no such thing.

You mean that cooperation is still here in the mountains?
Yes, of lending each other flour. It is still there.

How is theft here, of animals?
As for it, it is still like that ntate, it is still the same as in the lowlands there. It is still like that up here. People are still dying because of theft, but it does not end.

Now, now that it seems that you are going to be moved from this place of yours and you are being taken to a new place, can you tell me things like graves, what do you do with them?
When people move, it is my burden. I am going with it, ntate, it does not remain here. Has it not been said that here it is going to be water? There is going to be a dam. Now they (people buried in the graves) cannot stay in that water because sometimes, when I think that I need them, I should go there and talk to them. Or they want something, or my child wants to see lingalo (site of the graves), there is no ability to take them there. Because now [the graves] will be under water [making it impossible] that I can take them to lingalong (locative of lingalo). Now that is why we are saying that this responsibility (the graves), we are going with it. So that I can show it to my children where I have put this burden when it is like this, even if I were to die, you should know that this is so and so’s grave, here it is so and so’s.

As for you, the place that you have chosen, which you are going to, which one is it?
I am going to Matsieng, there up there.

Matsieng where?
At Ha Koporala there.

Oh, not Matsieng the [King’s] place?
No, Ha Koporala.

By the way you said your parents were where?
They were in here at...
Section 8
As for them where did you bury them?
There were buried right in here.

By the way is it the case that even there, there is emigration?
Yes, ntate.

Now are you going to fetch them?
It is going to be a must that they should be fetched.

Ha Koporala can be a place how far when you leave from here?
It is close by. It is opposite to there, where you board [vehicles].

Oh, as for you, you are still coming right in here. That place is a place, which you are already used to the people of there?
Ach, the people of there I know them. But people if you just often go there and you do not stay there, I do not know their troublesomeness and they also do not know mine. I just know [them] from meeting them at feasts here and we are just eating food together.

Now as for there, the means of living, how do you think you will do?
I am looking at whether there are a lot of fields. They are many, even though they do not do anything, because people just live on cannabis. I am just looking whether there is a place where I can sow tobacco on top of the plateaus there.

Which means that you have placed your hope on the fact that if you were to find a field you will just sow cannabis? Other than cannabis what it is that you think will help you provide livelihood for your children?
Other than maize, maize is not there; in fact it is scarce. Even buying food you buy food, so I cannot trust that I can find food, because even people from there buy food here sometimes.

According to my understanding in fact, you mean that just like you do not like the life of town because of money, where you are going to live you are going to live by money?
Money where would I be getting it from?

Is it not the case that cannabis brings in money?

Now you are saying that that side there are no maize, there is not what, the people from there buy food here. Now you mean that you are going to live on money.
Well, they are still there fields truly, but they are few. They sometimes bear food but not that much.
Section 9
Now as for you your intention is to do what when you get there? Other than the matter of planting cannabis?
I will still join with people here and negotiate with them and plant halves, and do [with them] all these arrangements. If they agree we work together.

When we summarise and we talk about this matter of the Project of Highlands Water in connection with this matter of yours of being emigrated from here, what would you say?
Ach, this matter of being emigrated actually defeated us a long time ago, because I heard it being said that the land was given away a long time ago. And now it defeated us, because where I say that it defeated us, it is the matter that they told us that land for land, and it was, that it had defeated us on that thing, [when they said] that they pay back soil for soil. We are not opposed to anything, but we are saying soil for soil, but it defeated us. It was said that, as for the land it had long being sold. Now I think that that is that same thing that bothered us, because it is being said that the land has been sold a long time ago, and yet we do not know the person who has sold it.

The land has been sold?
Yes, ntate.

Which one? This one of Lesotho?
Yes ntate. It is said that it was sold a long time ago.

Who are they who give that explanation?
It is people who used to come here saying that the land has been sold a long time ago, here we were being told that “You should know that by such and such a year you are going”.

What land has been sold? This area of yours or?
Yes this place Molika-liko.

Now they are going to be unable to give you land, why?
They have failed to give us ‘soil for soil’, we wanted ‘soil for soil’. That is there, where we are going we should find fields.

Is it the case that you were also a part of people who wanted soil for soil?

Yet you are telling me that you do not have a field?
Yes, for that little plot of mine. Is it not that I am saying I have a little plot but I am still able to eat; even though I am also jumping around it is just to supplement, but I still manage that I can eat something, which is not much.

Yes. Now when we talk and you show me, that is when I try to put it nicely... That is, I wanted you to clarify for me, as to what your feelings are in connection with this matter of being emigrated, especially looking at the matter of compensation, just like we are talking about this one of soil for soil? In general, when you look at, in years that are coming or in general, you can you see like what is life holding for you there, where you are going? Especially looking at your children.
Ntate, this thing I already do not see it well as to perhaps we shall be assisted or we are not going to be assisted, or whether we have been built those houses and that is all. I no longer know. Now, right now I am crying about this house, because they have eaten my house, after they ate it together with that site of mine they again built me a building, which I am not satisfied with. Now, I am not able to commit myself, even if we are going to be assisted, or whether we are not going to be assisted. It would be to speak a thing, which is not there, which you have not seen, because the house there, I am already crying about it, the moment they take the first step.
Section 10
Have they already taken it from you here?

In what way?
They have shortened it; it is not the size of my house. I told them that my house they should make it two rooms, they have made a room.

You are talking, basing yourself on which house?
Mine, where they have built for me.

Oh, they have already built for you? As for yours it is already standing?
Yes, ntate, now that is why I am saying I am not hopeful, because even the building which I had asked for, I see that that building has not been built. They have just built their own (what they like) and I am still on that matter of that house of mine. Now I do not have it that I will trust as to perhaps we are going to be assisted or we are not going to be assisted, because their things rise from the ground already wrong. Well, [that is the case] with some of us, I am not saying with all people. With me in fact, I already do not trust them.

The explanation that they were giving, what were they pointing out?
They said the house they will correct. They have ever said that they will correct it. I already closed the matter after they finished digging the foundation, I said, “No, this one is not it, go and fetch and those people of yours, let it stop, and go and fetch those people”, but they have not corrected it. Day before yesterday at the office there, this same one of Highlands Water up this side, I saw them and they said they will correct it, I will see whether they will come or not. But as for that one I am not going to stay in it. That one is theirs. Even them I told them that “That one is yours”. As for the site it is mine, as for the house it is yours.

Ach, ntate I understand. I understand them, these matters all of them. In general, now would you say, when we wind up these matters of ours, would you say in the depth of your heart, what is it that you will remain thinking of a lot about this place from which are being made to emigrate?
Especially a place when you are already used to it ntate, and you are now being removed, and you are not moving at your volition, you cannot forget it when you keep seeing it, because as for me I am still near it, I can still see when I am there. Especially because this place, I was living well in it, because I was used to all the tricks, as to even if it was said that hunger is standing (is rife) as to how I will live. But now we are moving away from it. We will see ahead where we are going, as to there we are going to live what sort of life.
Section 11
Now you are pointing out that pain will be there in your heart at all times when remain still seeing it, because now when you are at Ha Koporale you see it.
I see it.

I understand ntate. Ach, ntate I am very thankful for this interview that we have had. I am very thankful truly.