photo of person from Lesotho the maluti mountains
Lesotho glossary












November 1997



Section 1
Ntate, me my name is Maliantle Moshabesha. I have settled at Morija there, what could the name of ntate be?
I am, ntate Sebeli Tau, [I have built] right here at Molika-liko, Ha Tsapane. Being a person who was born here, I now have 46 years, having been born living in this same area. I am the son of ntate Moshoeshoe Tau, [who built] right here at Molika-liko here ntate.

Ntate Sebeli, would you remember as to when your family, when it came and built here, where had it come from?
My family when it came and built here, we came from Mohale’s Hoek there, Mpharane where my father was born. Now, my father it happened that his sister... his mother, it happened that her brothers came up, and they came and built here. And then his mother, who is the sister of his father who are Bakhatla, it happened that they came and built here. It happened that he came and grew up at his (maternal) uncles. His father had already died then, and it happened that one of her (mother’s) brothers came and stayed right here and ended up being married here.
That is our coming here, we still have our family in Mpharane. Everything we keep taking to Mpharane and in fact, we are still the only ones of the family of ntate Moshoeshoe. I think in the family we are still only five children of ntate Moshoeshoe and that is our family right here, that is all.

Now you were born how many at home?
We are five.

You are five as you explain. You, which number are you?
Me I am the fourth.

Are there sisters?
Our sister is one only.

These other three, have they built right here?
Here I have built with two. Now the one who comes after me went to build there at Ha Phohleli, at Ha Mofoka there. Our sister got married right at Ha Phohleli. Now here we are three and we are going to Ha Makotoko, still being three. Even our mother is still alive. Our father, him, he has already died.

Now, when you have built here, your wife is where?
My wife is at school, she teaches in there at Ha Seotsa.
Section 2
What is here name?
She is ’M’e Malisemelo Tau.

The children are how many?
They are three that I have produced directly, but they are four because the other is my sister’s one [with who we are related] by families, who comes from Mpharane because her parents are not there. Now she is my little “luggage”. I think it is that boy and a girl, now they are five my children in other words. That is my little luggage that one.

Just like you were born here, did you attend school?
I grew up here ntate; school I did not attend. I came out at [grade] A only, which is that old paliso (Grade B).

Where did you attend it?
I attended it at Bokong, this side where it is called Ha Monti. This one of my home village was not yet there.

By the way you said you were born in what year?
I nearly forget, but my years are 46. No, I did not go. The old man (father) has always been a person of a Christian especially my mother. They are people of Christians. Even me I am also that sort of person.

To herd, did you herd?
A lot, even the old man was a person who was very wealthy. Even right now his animals are still there, which are like cattle. The thing that has finished on us is sheep. When they say sometimes they go with their owners, (idiom meaning wealth goes with the owners when he or she dies), but then cattle is still there.

They are how many cattle right now?
I think cattle that might be there are twenty-eight.

Where do you herd right now?
Looking after them is now with the elder one that I come after well. But then just like an assistant I become available, also we are working with him. Well, even me I also have my own wealth truly, but as for those of my family’s, as for them, they are still twenty-eight.

By the way you said even he has built in this same village?
Even he has built right here.

Where work is concerned, in life your job was which one?
My work, I worked at Vaal Reefs a lot, many years. I worked I think at two mines. I worked at Befolo (Buffelsfontein) and Vaal Reefs. I only left recently in 88. When I left the mines in 88.

You remember the thing that took you to work there, it was which reasons?
Yes, I remember a little. I went to work there when it happened that I saw that...ach! Now I have a family and little problems are there, and there it must be that I touch here and there and help the old man. Well he was still alive at that time.
Section 3
Is it the case that you remember your life as a young man before you went to the mines, as to what kind of life it was, even the time just after you went, as the life of there you lived it in what manner?
Yes, ntate, I can remember it a little. Much, much earlier here, during the time of rains, it still rained a lot. Life here was still very good because, well, we did not even know hunger. When you went to someone’s house you would find that sour milk was there, lipapa (plural of papa (porridge), usually referring to food generally) are things which are there. This land was very good for crops but now it is going and changing and is causing us hunger during these times of drought.

The animals on the point of grazing, as for them, they went in what way?
They still grazed when the fields were still like this, but some time, earlier before Christmas starts, our animals usually climbed up there to the mountain. The stealing... grazing near the fields because, the animals, when they are near the fields they eat the khatha (crops?) because, me being a herdboy, I would say I am letting them graze near the fields here and then they would keep stealing maize and they are taking it further inside. Now we used to remove them a lot, and this time we are still working in that same way.

Meaning that they still go to the [animal] posts?
They still go to the posts.

Could it be the young men that you grew up with are still there?
Yes, the young men that I know that I grew up with are still there and, in fact let me say most of them. There is none who is not there. One of them is this same one that you are coming with. Even the others are still there. They are at a hiring at Likalaneng here. Especially one is there who we are still working together with, him here. Even just now, the donkeys that I have closed in the kraal (livestock enclosure) here, are ours and his. My little boy has just come with them right now. I think they will lie down in the kraal there.

Meaning that you still herd together? You have still united the kraals? For a benefit on what point especially?
For the benefit that when the children have gone to school, us fathers one should drive the sheep this side. One should drive cattle this side. They should come and relieve us when they come back from school.

In the fields, is it the case that you still go in a way that is similar?
In the fields we still help each other like that. Right now in Likalaneng there, he works there, and now I am the person who remained weeding, to plough like that, on the grounds that he is not here, because of work. From there when I find that just like they are worked by young people, they are a little difficult. I will use big oxen which agree to work. At times when he is here like Saturdays, I will work a great deal [because he would be here to help me].
Section 4
The villages that you are neighbouring with here, which are they?
The villages that we are neighbouring, just like this one of ours is Maetsisa. There is this one of Ha Tsapane that is the place of the chief, and then there would come that one over there yonder. That small one, and then in here where we say it is at Matebeleng, it still falls right here at Ha Tsapane, and that one which is in here at Ha Monti, it still falls here.

How is neighbourliness with these other villages that do not fall here?
We still have neighbours at Ha Seotsa. They are still those of Thaba-Bosiu, but then we are ruled there at Ha Makhobalo, but then even here it is still Thaba-Bosiu, but we understand each other well. We support each other well. I can easily leave from here to go and plough in partnership over there. It is a thing that is well supported. Well, even when they have apprehended animals, we still talk to one another that we should reprimand children like that.

Is it the case that it has always been that kind of neighbourliness, or have there been problems during times that passed?
There were never any problems, ever since I developed eyes (awareness). Sometimes it happens that there are little quarrels like that. We sometimes quarrel like that but there’s no fighting and spilling of blood.

I have a belief that this place, you like it a lot?
A lot. I like it a lot.

The biggest thing that you feel you like about it is which one?
This place of Molika-liko has the capacity that, when the rains have agreed, we help even those places. Like those ones of going up here like that because, it ends up there at places like Machepisa, there Ha Thaba-Bosiu, up at place like Litsebe there. The people of there (from all these places) buy food here. Even now in the houses of some people, if you were to go into the houses of people who have planted you will find that, right there at my home, you will find bales – maybe four – still there, in [storage] there. From this same year’s harvest.
Especially hunger is afflicting us – but, well, it does not bother us that much. Even vegetables, people eat vegetables. In their homes (in those other villages) they are stolen. As for us, we plant them to go down this vale. Just one part [of a field], and we plant vegetables there. Water – it is [found] here, by the marsh where there are reeds. We get water from there. Seedlings are still grown in the village here. They are going to be planted there in the fields. You will find that maize has been planted. Cabbage has been sown on the lower side. Now, things like wheat especially, you can see for yourself also as you are walking by the fields here. It is not there, it is planted but it is planted by that person, and that one. Maize is especially liked because it is the [staple] food.

Right now you plough how many fields?
I have one field of my own, but then, truly I usually plough in partnerships. Right here with the old people here, or here, with people who do not have cattle. Or those who are needy in the hands like the handicapped, like that. That is where we plough there.
Section 5
Now, now that it is heard that you shall emigrate [from] this place, what could be the things that you see that now you are having problems with them, or ones which you see that you are going to have opportunities with there, where you are emigrating to?
I see that, ntate, I shall say this way. Now that the policy has affected us and we are emigrating, we are going to have problems because a cow, when it leaves from here and goes to a place that it is not used to, it will meet with problems. But again some times I emigrate [from] here, I go there. I do not have a little soil that I am leaning on. Even the people of Maseru are still living, having no field. Now, the dispute is also we are now used to living with a few animals, and one little goat, and even to drag a little horse, even to drag one donkey, even what again. We will have people like the elderly and the handicapped who we are already providing a livelihood for by those same soils of theirs. Now at another time it is found out that he or she will stay there (in the new place) until he or she has nothing left. There is no pay that which they have. The field is that thing which helps them a little.
These are our problems these ones. Now we are asking ourselves seriously. Now, again, we have now entered the time that we have come to a point where we are thinking banna (Man!). These graves are going to go under the water also banna. Does it ever happen that graves go into the water and bob up and down in the water, and this water that it is being said is going to be used by people? It will be water of what kind which has poison of graves inside it? Now, hey, a lot of things.

But ntate, graves in Sesotho do they have a great significance?
Yes, in Sesotho they have a great significance because, when we dig for a person there, we do not go where it is muddy. We look for where it is dry, while at the same time examining that grave to ensure that it is standing well. Yes, a lot [of significance], ntate, because we Basotho are people who trust balimo (ancestors) a lot; even God, we trust him a lot. We trust those who are up [in heaven] because we do not want those people to suffer. And yet they are already soil, just like they say soil to soil.

Now, the wish is that the graves should go with you?
Graves have given us a problem, let me say this way. It is a problem. Alright, they can go with us, but in view of this time, there are others that we no longer know [of]. Meaning that even there where they were, there are old burials. They were not protected like the burials of today. They were just put. Now it is plain. It is like there. You no longer know where it was a grave or it was where. You no longer know. At other times we have taken something like just sand, or just soil, and you just scatter it like this. And it would be when we have taken a person to go and ho bea lejoe there (literally, “to put a stone”; a ritual in which a relative of the deceased who was not present during the funeral is taken to the grave first thing in the morning to go and put a stone on top of the deceased’s grave). Now it is another thing, which has still put us in problems.
Section 6
But if it was said that the graves should go with you, it is a thing which would happen how, because now you are going to be separated by villages (you are going to go to different villages)? Is it the case that graves can be taken to one village?
It has become difficult for [us] people because we tried to unite. There happened to be other people who were hard headed, who were opposed [to the fact] that they can go where we are going. Some have gone up this same river. There, where I am going at Ha Makotoko, those who understood the language of speaking among themselves, but even them others they went to Ha ‘Nelese, one of those groups that spoke among themselves. But even then, the problem will be there when we now arrive at the graves there. There is some thing which is already not known or it is for Ha ‘Nelese. You hear that it will be lost to Ha Makotoko. Now it is just problems.

You see like it is a thing that can be done how?
The way I see it, I find that it is a thing that might defeat us, because I do not see how it is a thing that will be done. In other words they usually say people should just take the soil that is there and it should be gone.

New ones? Those which are not too old?
New ones that were there at a time when I had already developed awareness, say up to twenty years, fifteen years, we are able to know them, those ones, but now the others are far, far earlier.

Now, those same ones of fifteen years, twenty years, how will they go? In the way that a person where you emigrates to, you will choose your relatives, or what will you do? Now that some people are going to Ha Matala, others Ha Makotoko, is it the case that these graves will be made to emigrate in that manner? Or what will happen?
I see that it would be better that a site should just be found for them. If only it could be that way, where they can be put together with those which we no longer know. Those that have been identified should just be gathered and taken to the same site [with those which can no longer be identified]. Each person should know that if he or she goes to the graves, he or she just goes to that central place.
Even if it so happens that, as a way of me giving a small example - when I was still in Vaal Reefs, I used to take the morning shift, this shift which had gone down at night. This shift when it was supposed to light [explosives], it happened that there was a fire, which was not known. It happened that all the charges in those holes exploded. Those people – we collected them as pieces. We did not know whether this one was white or that was black. We were just collecting those pieces of flesh together with that stofo (ore - underground, not yet processed). They made a grave that was bigger than this house, so much so that the families of those deceased there, could see their names only and they went there year in, year out. They sometimes slaughter a certain number of cattle there and they offer a prayer. It is still there, that grave. It is big. They were buried in one place, because it was not known as to how the pieces of flesh would be separated. Now, a thing like that, I might say you dig this side. You take out this side, it is a difficult thing.
Section 7
In matters that are related to life there, where you are going, you are expecting what kinds of things? Ha Makotoko when you say you are going to build?
Ha Makotoko there where I am going to live. Me, I am expecting that they will build for us in the manner in which they have already told us. Now the life that I am expecting to live, I believe that with the little wealth that I worked for in the past days, I want something like a tractor. Just like I know how to use it and also that especially I am person who knows how to drive. Something like a combi, even a truck, I drive it. I have letters they are there. I should just go and find me things like that. Maybe I manage to try life and sustain it.

We should go back a little. I have a belief that maybe there are things that are going to be lost to you when the dam is already there, other than just fields. What things could they be to your awareness, the ones that you see like you are going to have a loss on them?
The things that are going to be lost are many, because according to a person being familiar where you are at a place, the wisdom of living in that area will be lost to you. You will have to spend sometime looking for it, and only then will you find it. Whereas here, even if I do not have money, I quickly search a little. I find the points as to in what way I can buy some food for the children.

Maybe there are plants which are in this area of yours which you use by way of medicines, is it the case that things like that, you do not see them becoming a loss?
Indeed, I am pointing at those like them. Even though I did not make clear at first, similar things like plants. Things like [wild] vegetables which we are now used to, and we know their places, where they grow, and also those things like the same medicines. As to a certain medicine, when I want it I find it where. Or when I plant a vegetable here, how do I plant it in what month? They are things that will once again make you struggle to learn that land, not knowing as to when in that land they are started, or at what time to look for them and when they will germinate and sprout, and so on.

Do you not see that the life of here already approximates that of town?
When it was talked earlier, we were hopeful that we are going to get a very new life, now that it is coming to our area, we used to struggle for many things, we do not live at home. Just like you see we live in shacks which are like this. Especially me I was thinking that in the middle, there I was going to put in a very wonderful thing. Where I was going to find bricks on time. But there then came and appeared this matter of the policy. This one which has already appeared. I had hoped that now we were going to build, make wonderful buildings here. Even us should show a person when you come here. In the middle of the mountains you find a beautiful village, which is very appealing, in a depression, which is so beautiful. You see this valley is beautiful, ntate. Even you, when you arrive, you see that this land is a special mountainous area. You know, we even plant sorghum here. It succeeds quite well. It is warm. But the sun in this place is fierce, because now there is no wind.
It is really a [sheltered] valley. Even the frost takes some time to arrive here. The snow falls but it usually snows on the high-lying area. Even when it comes down here, [it does not stay] because there is a lot of water. There are reedy areas. Snow is a thing that is afraid of water. It goes away quickly. And [there is] even the matter of a river which is close by. As soon as the sun shines it melts and runs away. It is true that there is not a lot of grass here, but the cattle here are used to it because they do not climb steep areas and we do not know what it is to skin a thin cow here.
Section 8
You attend the church of right here?
I attend church right here, in there at Ha Seotsa. In there, where the wife is teaching.

Witchcraft is not rife in your home area here?
Witchcraft, there is a lot of it, there is no place where it is not there, there is a lot of it.

What about the doctors?
The doctors are still there, the ones who dig. We still go rushing to them. May a child o se a tlotse ntho e ‘ngoe ke phatha-phatha ea (?), or it is problems of a cold we still rush to them. We often ride horses like that and rush to them like that. While at the same time fighting for this road, saying that this road does not come.

What is the big plan that the road should be there?
The plan we had wished so, just like we requested the government early that it should help us. Also we can collect our monies to help to make this road arrive here. This one is the matter of the past days. We tried a wisdom like that during the past days. We were even given the matter that we should even try it with the hands. The bulldozer should also help us but then they stopped those things.

Is it the case that other than the reedy place here, there are other places here which are special, which you see that they will be a big loss when the dam is already here?
Yes, there are other places. The place that will be a big loss to us, the place that I can [say] will be a great loss - not saying I am a resident of this area -this place is losing a lot even outside people. For the time, because it has a way of feeding the people of here, not that they should go and buy food down in Lesotho (the lowlands) there, but they are able to buy food in a short time here.

Is it the case that during your growing up, there were wild animals?
The wild animals were not ones that were dangerous to human beings. Those were never there. Animals that were always here were springboks, steenbok, bucks and hares. They are the animals that we had. Ones like jackals, not the wild ones [which were] dangerous to human beings.

These ones which are here, are they of a certain benefit to you?
They are of great benefit to us, and we protect them a lot so that they should not be killed – the ones like bucks, steenboks - because they are the ones that are here. Springboks I no longer see. Now these steenboks and these bucks – they are the ones that we protect a lot so that they should not be shot at. Just like a lot of people have bought guns from the government. They should leave them alone so that we can show the children, so that they should know them and the hares. Now sometimes they try and set dogs on them, but we are still trying to show the mistake of doing so.
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