photo of person from Lesotho the maluti mountains
Lesotho glossary










Ha Tsapane


July 1998



Section 1
How many fields do you have?
I have one field it has this thing... it is together with another smaller one of a small piece. The other one is a big field, and then this other one is this thing that we sometimes call a small piece.

Would you know its size in numbers?
Its size in numbers - in fact we did not get numbers, because they were being used by them (Highland Water Project); now I almost have no knowledge about them, as to the numbers of there are how much.

In a good year you harvest how much in this big one, and you harvest how much in the smaller one?
That is, with this small one it happens that four bags I get them, on this smaller one, especially when the year is good. This big one, 16 bags I sometimes get them when the year is very good.

When it is bad?
When it is bad, it is understandable that sometimes I might get six, sometimes they would be five like that; when it is very bad.

From this big one?
Yes, from this big one.

You plant what there mostly?
I plant maize mostly.

You never change it?
I sometimes change it, and plant wheat sometimes there to fatten the soil, so that those stalks should be able to make some fertiliser when I turn [the soil], and then I would come and plant some wheat.

How much of it do you harvest?
Wheat, I harvest quite a lot, because six bags when I have planted it come out, I would get them (six bags).

Now, when you have planted and the year happens to be good, are you able to make the children live the year round?
I am able to make the children live the year round. I never buy food at all.
Section 2
Are you also able to sell and buy things for the house?
I sometimes sell like that because I have how many children, three of them and their mother, and perhaps my herdboy, the one who I have hired. Let me say there are five people, and then there are six of them when you include me. But I am able to manage.

This herdboy, where does he come from? Is he a person from the village here?
Yes, this herdboy is a person from these smaller villages on the fringes here.

You said you come from Mohale’s Hoek?
Yes ntate.

Please explain to me as to why? Many people of here actually come from the south there; they are people from places such as Mafeteng...
Yes ntate, most of these people actually come from Matatiele. The chief of here, meaning Tsapane, is a person from Matatiele there at Mabenyeng. Now it happened that when he left that place, he came to [the] Senqu [area] in here; when he left [the] Senqu [area] he then came to Mohale’s Hoek, and he got there and he stayed there at a place called Mpharane. And then it happened that these people would come with him and they kept coming like that; some of them he acquired right in there. He was a person who had come and set up an animal post here. When he had set up an animal post here, it was then that he fetched a plough seeing this place being nice, and then he planted wheat, and he harvested a lot of wheat; and then he fetched the women from there because of that animal post of his. The women it happened that when they were here, it happened that they now refused to go back there, seeing this prosperity here.

He then fetched his wives?
It then happened that these women no longer go back altogether. They had come to thresh, is it not, it then happened that they no longer went back. It happened that in the second year, he put in maize in the fields that he had cultivated. It then happened that when he put in maize, it was found out then that maize also was successful; and then it happened that people no longer moved and now this became a home and that was all. They then built a village. They then built a village and then the village increased. It continued to happen that people kept coming from there, indeed most of these people come from up there.

Were they people who knew him?
They were people who knew him.

You said that you change in order to fatten the soil?
Yes, that is, a soil when it is being fattened, it is that you would sow wheat and when you have sown this wheat, that wheat is it not the case that you would cut it, now these stalks remain at that time when you cut it, and then you would immediately turn [the soil]. Now, I think that I will show you one lehlaare (field after harvest) here; now when you turn it this soil you turn it, is it not, and now you are making fertiliser now again; you are renewing that soil. You are renewing that soil.
Section 3
Now, you think that the agriculture of here, the thing that makes it succeed is what?
The agriculture of here is good because the soil of here its being improved, is very easy even with just animal dung. It does not need [industrial] fertilisers; we work with [dung from] the [animal] pens; this dung we are now going to put it in the fields. [We also improve the soil by] also renewing the soil by sowing wheat a lot to renew our soil.

Peas? Please tell me about peas, how are they when you have sown them?
Peas come out very well also. It agrees with his soil of here a lot. And it also comes out when it has agreed; it goes so far as chasing, to the extent that you may find that you can get six bags, they come if it is a good field; just like this one of mine.

The thing that actually gives you trouble in agriculture here, is which one?
The thing that gives us trouble in agriculture here, we given problems by the sun (drought) only here; when it is there; other than that, ache, there is nothing that bothers at all.

You are not bothered by pests?
No ntate.

When snow falls here, how long a time does it take to melt?
The snow here? Maybe when it has fallen, or at times like in the evening or at night - because snow is a thing that often falls at night, but when the night is over it happens that it is the end of it... [This area] is near water, it is near water; especially this reedy swamp, [snow] is afraid of the sweet [of the reedy swamp] and it runs away quickly; by this time it is no longer there and it only remains up there [on higher lying ground].

And frost?
Frost arrives here in the fourth month. It is there in the fourth month. On dates like the 15th like that, as far as the 20th, it is there. But then our maize [crop] is past danger by then.

Does it not happen that it comes just in the middle of time?

That is, for example, in Semonkong there, they have frost four times [a year].
Four times?

It is apparent that that place is not right.

Yes, it is not right; do you never have such a problem?
Yes, well, it would be very seldom, but I have never seen it. If it was there here, you would be already seeing yourself that may be it is there.

What things are they that when you need, you have to leave from Molika-liko here, and go and look for them?
The things that we need here, is if may we need things like blankets, like that to clothe the children; those are the things because of which we sometimes go down and disappear in places like Maseru, like that to go and look there; that at [shops] like Fraser’s, at place like Marakabei, like that. That is the clothes for the children, especially clothes for the body.
Section 4
How many times is it? It happens how many times a year?
That is sometimes it is found out that may be if you go, you actually go and make a stockpile. You would start the children from the foot and up to the foot, you would go down them from the head, everything you would actually do like that (buy everything from the hats to the shoes for all the children). Maybe you buy for December (Christmas), you are already making for December then.

Please tell me about the planting of cannabis then. You plant it when, you harvest it when?
The planting of cannabis we... when we have started early in fact we want to plant it, such that in December, we should be able to cover expenses. We plant it during the seventh month, at its beginning we plant it, it is not afraid of the cold. At that time, frost still falls, but it is by then small and it is becoming small. But then cannabis grows itself. Now in December - December finds us already having bags of cannabis here.

You would have started harvesting it when?
We start [harvesting] it during that same month of December; times like its beginning; that is in the middle, towards the end of the 11th month, we start right from then.

It takes how much time to dry?
No, it takes two days, and then it would be dry. It is extremely afraid of the sun.

Now, I have heard that there are people who like it [better] when it is dried indoors.
They are still there others who want it when it dried indoors, that is, they want it to be brown because it will look like it has dirt, is it not, and then it would be brown. Now, when you have done, there are other people who sometimes arrive to buy, and they want it that way; we still do different ways like that; this same brown one and the one that meets with the sun without altogether getting this thing, it would be green. In fact it is actually there - I will show it to you - it is there which is like that some cannabis.

But why do people have a way of choosing one is like this and the one which is like this?
That is, I think it is the places, that is why it happens that different types are favoured. In one place you will find that it is that brown one that is used, they say that is the one that is ripe in other places; in other places they say it is not alright that one is rotten, that ripe one that looks like BB (a South African brand of pipe tobacco), that one they say no, it is rotten in other places; they do not like it altogether. In other places then it works.

But do you have a problem here, of people who abuse it in the village here?
[People] of the village here? No, we do not have a problem with people who... we do not have them people like that a lot; because each and every one is told by his pocket (every person knows how much money they need and they choose to smoke their crop or sell it); each and every one also is... the one who is lazy is lazy, he will also remain with that laziness of his.
Section 5
Yes, I was actually saying that perhaps them using it themselves, those who smoke it but then abusing it.
No, they do not abuse it. We still have them people who smoke, a lot; in fact many people smoke here, a lot. They are still there.

You do not have people who would end up going mad?
No, truly. Even me as I am actually a smoker. I have a time when I would clear the head [by smoking cannabis].

Now, when you compare the expenses that you enter into when you plant cannabis and when you plant food-crops, where do you spend more?
There is almost no [expense], cannabis is not too destructive. It is very friendly to maize. The argument is just that the maize should stand well [so that] cannabis should also have some space. That is, you might do... that is, if you intercrop with maize, well you can make an English foot and sow another maize like that, and then it be cannabis like that. That is right, it grows well when it is like that, it does not eat (destroy) the maize; cannabis is not going to eat the maize and the maize is also not going to eat it.

The seed, what do you do for the seed? How do you get it?
Seed, at this time when we are removing the leaves from the plant, just like we are doing that, this seed is already remaining on the ground. When it is dry, just when you come and sweep and do like this, when you are sweeping doing like this, it is already falling off and it remains there. Now you sweep off the top then and take the cannabis and take it there, and then you are going to winnow the seed; that is already how you are having it.

Does it never become impotent? Because is it not the case that a seed at some point in time when you keep repeating it and repeating it, it ends up being impotent?
There is a way in which it depends on the [kind] of soil, and it may be found out that the soil in which it is lehoitinyana (rather poor), that is a little barren, it has a way of becoming impotent that seed from there (from such a soil), and then it would become very thin and we cancel it when it is like that, and we do not take it. We throw it away [because] it has expired.

Now, are you able to see it when it is the right size?
Yes we are able to see it, because it will come after the thickness of a sorghum [grain], now that is the good seed that one.

Even with money you still get a lot of money with, with the money for [food]crops and cannabis?
Yes, for food[crops] and cannabis?
Section 6
Which one sells for more?
Yes, cannabis beats food where money is concerned; especially because it may happen that in December, nearing the tenth month it is [already] bought; especially it may be found out that a bag might make four to five hundred rands up to December. It will happen then that after that, when there is now more cannabis - because right now it is with a few individuals; one of them when you say - right now some of them are saying three hundred rands.

These ones who buy?
They were buying the ones who are selling. One appeared and said, him he has problems his children are at school there and now he does not have money to pay for them at school. He sells his bag for 200 rands; it is the one of 200 rands that would be sold; you hear that even the buyer is not going to take 300 rands, he will stop at 200 rands there. It is a thing which is happening even now.

You never talk and agree on a price?
Yes, sometimes we agree on that price. We actually agree all of us because now you hear that that person already comes to me because he also cannot go to [a seller selling for] 300 rands, when people of 200 rands are there.

So you make a little money from it, but it is difficult to sell?
No, it is not very difficult. It is not very difficult. People come from places like Cape Town there. Even white people come here, from places like Durban there. Just like now, I have some who have come from very far, far, far away.

Now the time when you end up deciding that you are going to sell for yourself, what would have happened?
When I make the decision to go and sell for myself, to go there, I would be wanting money that means I double that bag (sell a bag for double the price it would fetch here).

When you are there it sells a little better?
Yes, it sells better when you go because you might find that, is it not that [cannabis] is not there; even me, when I get there I want 4000 rand for this bag, or 300 rand.

Are you able to sell?
And then I would be able to sell.

You have never been arrested?
I have been arrested. I am already the father of jails. He!, there are very many, they are there; in fact if they were nearby I would show them to you. Helek! he, I am already the father of jails, very much. Right now, there is a boy, this same one who is sowing a bag here right now, I have just paid 4000 rand for him, he had been arrested in Bloemfontein there. This old man (referring to himself) just went round a shrub (turned a corner) and I found that banna, there was no chance – [the police] were already there.
Section 7
And then they arrested him?
And then they arrested him. Truly I paid for him. He is there, I shall call him; he is still there, in there.

The villages whose people live by buying food from here, which ones are they?
These outside villages, actually the people from there buy food from here.

Which villages are they? Can you tell to me by their names?
Yes, Ha Mont’i, Ha Motoko to go up following this Bokong, and those villages which are in a group to go there, and going up the Senqunyane [river] and crossing over to Ha Tsiu, Ha Mohale, to go like this; even at Likalaneng back there, they buy food here. Even these ones of Jorotane, Bokoaneng, all of them these villages, like that, just like I have mentioned them, they buy food here. They buy food here.

By the way how do you sell to one another with them? They bring money or they bring what?
They bring this thing, money. They bring money. Our bag we still make one 120 rands a bag. Well, they differ in amounts; some [charge amounts] like 110 rands like that.

This road which I see that it now comes as far as here, has it caused problems or has it improved your lives?
This road by its coming, it has caused lightness and we were also very happy saying, “Banna, the road will come in, we are now going to build houses worthy of seeing here in this place”. But now there it is useless because we are leaving now.

Please tell me, if you still remember, the very first time these people from the Highland Water, when they arrived here telling you that you are going to have to move away from here, what happened? What did they say and what did you say to them?
These people, when they arrived here, we put reasons here they are, we said: “Our reasons here, we hear when you say that we can move; and when we are being moved by a thing which is associated with the government, but our reasons, we have difficulties because we have some houses here like graves and so on; some of them we no longer know them”. It is now over, it is enough because the things that used to happen this side, we do not have things like bricks like that, of these things- these things of cement to make sure that a grave is identifiable until even your children, they are things which are not there among us because they were expensive now those things. Now, a lot of graves have disappeared (are not identifiable), but this place is still there. Now some of the problems are those ones.

And what did they say?
Now they said...
Section 8
Let me start here: I want you to tell me as to when they arrived them the day they arrived for the first time, when they had come to explain to you, what did they say?
Right then the first time, they mentioned by saying it is the matter that they are asking that we should move away from the place which is here. And we are being moved by law and we are going to be under the support of the law. All the assistance we shall be assisted by law together with the children being included. But when we observed during this time, me I see like it is no longer like that.

I know that the people of here actually do not like to move away from here, what are your reasons for not wanting to move away from here?
Our reasons - in fact we do not have an argument against moving because, when we were thinking, we were thinking that we are people who are 50, maybe let me say who are 20 and this thing of [Highlands Water] is a thing which is going to help, maybe a million people in the area; now for these same reasons we found that the children of Basotho shall manage to develop Lesotho or even finding jobs. Some families are there which living a hard way, and it will be found out that they manage not to live in a difficult manner. Now it is the matter that because us, we are people who are in a small group which is small, we should open a space that those people should be able to live. Now we made each other see these reasons which are like that, and then we talked amongst ourselves and actually reached [a decision]that we may agree with these people.

But then you thought you were going to lose what by doing so?
Now we saw that our losses are many. It is the loss of the very life from the soil, like fields, and this life which is like that of the graves and many other things, of things like animals, they are also going to get lost, because now it is found that the places that they are going to there are no longer pastures like these ones.

Please tell me your feelings about the life of the lowlands. What are your feelings about the life of the lowlands?
My feelings, when I search for them there in that life of the lowlands, I find that it is difficult, but I was thinking that maybe, if they made the things which they have promised us, which we do not know how they work, maybe I could find something like a tractor, maybe I can manage that I should try another life that I can get used to.

They have promised to give you how?
Now, their pay, they say a hectare is one 1800 rands per hectare. When we count this hectare, this money you get it per 50 years, this one of the hectare. Now when I add it me, in my numbers, I found that this hectare in 50 years makes 90 000 rands. Now I wanted to know, as to it can be found immediately or a piece that a person might manage. It was not possible that a person can get immediately, but again it is now not possible that when we now go to the papers, my field all of a sudden appears paying 121 thousand rands, the garden all of sudden appears paying 22 [thousand rands]; if I am not mistaken, this same one which is this side. But now you hear that in there where it is counted, for 90 years you hear where it is going, it is going to ninety thousand rands but now this side again it is going how. Now, you know it has made our heads stop right there as to now it is money that goes how (how does compensation work).
Section 9
In other words, it is not clear to you how your compensation works?
That is, they try, them, to explain how that compensation is going to go, now they say it will go... that is, now that this year we got [something], it ought to be that we got one 1800 rands; right now we now have to get 2400 rands. The money for the time of harvest (the money they ought to have been given to compensate them for complying the Highlands’ instruction that they should not plant anything this year in anticipation of their imminent removal). Now we are asking: “Next year the amount of compensation will be in what condition?” Now they liken it that it will now be coming in like that, coming in like that for these 50 years. Yes, now we are counting, you hear the numbers of there, throw us way way there, they throw us way there as to for 50 years now, that they are now saying it makes 2400 rands next year how it now goes; in a hectare now what remains or to go where, no, we have stopped there. Now it has given us difficult numbers which we are not able to add because they will come and tell you like this, tomorrow another one would come and speak like this.

On what points do you see like the life of here is better than that of the lowlands?
The life of here is much better because, especially it does not have difficulties for the animals; the same eating that we have already talked about, the agriculture of here satisfies us; all things like that and our animals also get satisfied. Right now the cattle of here, you see that you like them too. And in fact even in winter they are still like that, because the cattle of here do not find an uphill; they might just to the grazing area going uphill but when they are now full they go downhill [when they come home]. Now, you know that going uphill [on a] full [stomach] it is problems; you pull hard. You have also felt that if you have eaten and are full. Now they also suffer from being lean cattle that go up; but when they go down, our cattle we do not deal with lean ones at all. Our cows grow old here and they have seven calves. [Usually] it is difficult for a cow to have seven calves, ntate. A cow ends up [in the course of its lifetime] with four calves, but ours here have seven calves and its teeth would even get ground down in the mouth [from old age]. Now our grass is not hard, you can see it, it is ‘mokuru. ‘Mokuru, you know even in winter, once it feels a little rain it immediately starts coming back (growing again); now our cattle are used to this ‘mokuru and this lesuoane (variety of grass), especially – even in winter it does not dry [up].

Do you not have a problem of people who burn grass here?
We try to fight a lot against burning; fight against children when they burn [while herding] at the grazing areas, even they have dug potatoes we say that they should not roast them there; they should roast them at home.

Please explain to me how you weed.
Our weeding here, weeders still have a few families they are still there (i.e there are a few families that have weeders), but mostly we do not use them we use ploughs. Even our planting we put this maize in a tin, and then we would put the seed of another [crop] this side if it is how we put- and then we would work like this.

With this tin?
Yes, with that tin.
Section 10
You just keep shaking like this?
Yes, we are just keep shaking like this I am following cattle [ploughing] from behind to go there, or I am walking in front of them. Now, that time when they are going to turn there these cattle, it is another sod which I just ignore that one, or if I want lines to be distant from one another, I will make a sod going that direction, and then I would come and make the second one, I will sow like that on the third, I will just keep skipping two and sow on the third. That is, I am opening so that the air should be able to enter when I am doing like that. But there are others who sow skipping one sod and sow on the third.

Now a plough you do what to it so that you should be able to weed with it?
This plough I take the poto (mould board for ploughing) out of it, I take this poto out of it; now I am able to weed with it nicely. This line may be I will repeat it three times.

What things are they which are related to the life of this place which are going to be lost for good because of the removal of people from here to make a dam? What things are they which you see that they are going to be lost for good?
The things which are going to be lost which we shall never have especially, yes, the agriculture of these things that we plant in their different kinds, it is lost to us. Yes, we have other houses here, they are lost to us. Animals, they are lost to us even more, because our cattle are not able to eat molula (variety of grass), they will come back from the grazing area as they are (hungry as they went in the morning) there; it is tough, they are going to die all of them. What is there is just that a person should find the luck that you should sell them. But even then seeing from the way we are leaving, ntate I feel I do not know what kind of sale it will be, it is just throwing them away.

According to you, who is supposed to be made to shoulder the fault that you are being removed from here? Is it the case that it is the government, or the Highland Water authorities, or the king?
These problems is it not, this fault we shall put it on the shoulders of the king together with the government, if him he does not examine our lives we shall live in a difficult manner, we shall cry facing his house there. Because if it is found out that it (the dam, sale of water) does not do anything for us, I do not know as to we shall cry facing where.

But the your biggest fear about this place where you are being taken, which one is it?
Our biggest fear which we are actually afraid of, we do not know whether we shall live on money forever; yes, and whether it shall be there at all; whether it shall not get finished; that money when it gets finished we shall size ourselves and size ourselves with what because even those same animals even them I see that they will have gone in part, they will not be there. Now that is our fear because even [the task of] chasing around [for jobs] and getting used to looking for jobs is another long job.

What do you do to make sure that there is enough pasture and enough fields at all times? That is, what do you so that all the time pasture should be there which is enough and the fields should be there which are enough? So that it should not be found out that all land has been turned into fields or that it be found out that now there is a lot of pasture so that people need fields; so that these things are balanced all the time, what do you do?
It is found out that here where these fields are now situated, that place is mountainous like these hills when they are like this; even that reedy swamp there where you see it remaining in the middle here, that is the pasture, we have set it aside for pasture. In fact again, and again even there on the mountain there where there still remains [some land], it now remains for pasture; we no longer agree that there should be a field which can be there.
Section 11
In other words in fact you do have a way by which you make sure that pasture should not be encroached upon by the fields and-
Yes ntate.

What do you do to make sure that animals are not too heavy on pasture?
Yes, so that our animals should be easy on the pasture so that it experience a true improvement, we have a way of taking them at this time and it would be that we have taken them and we have taken them to that side on the plateaus, they graze in there so that their grass should be able to improve so that when they come back from there they should find that it is too much for them and it should be enough for them.

There is an aloe this one which you see it?
Yes ntate.

I have heard that there are people who sell it; do you not fear that it shall get finished?
That little aloe with small ears?

That is right.
There are people who sell it, it is true

Yes, we were talking about aloe.
Yes ntate, now there are people who sell it they would take it down some of them and go and sell it down there to try and [find money to] cover their expenses with it. Things like masooko (?) like that.

Now down there you have- you have been promised what? Fields and pasture, are they things which are there?
Pasture is said to be there; the people of that place when they say. The fields are not there.

You are not going to get them?
Mm, other than - may be I do not know about things like sharecropping like that, I do not know.

Now why is it that you have not prepared for leaving like this, you when are you going to move? We have been meeting people crossing [the river] there.
Me I am going to Ha Makotoko. I will leave a little later. These ones who are crossing are the ones who are going to town at Ha Matala. Some of them just sulked in the direction of town there.
Section 12
These people who are choosing not to go way down there (i.e to the lowlands), there are people who are remaining at places like Ha Tsiu there.
These people keep remaining at places like Ha Tsiu like that, they are other people who are complaining about the animals like that, who complain about what that he is leaving the area that he is used to and now they just go to the side. Some of us truly we sulked and said well. Me I found that this loti (mountain) was a loti which I trusted more, which was like the lowlands or sometimes doubles the lowlands a number of times. But I found that now that it has eluded me, by being used to walking behind a weeder- because this side there is no maize like this one that you see here. This [part] of loti is still the only one of its kind. It has amazed many. That side (the lowlands) it is only things for peas, wheat and the wheat of there you will find again that it is just a thing which you do not know what kind it is. Now you hear that it is just problems there; it is better that you should go there maybe one [of the people in the host communities] when he comes from the fields he would say let us go and hoe, please hoe there; at some time, just like I am thinking things of tractors like that.