photo of person from Lesotho the maluti mountains
Lesotho glossary












November 1997



Section 1
My name is Maliantle Moshabesha I have built at Morija there, what could be your name be?
I am Mathabo Thekiso.

Yes ’M’e, you have built right here at Maetsisa?
Yes ntate.

I will ask that ’M’e, for the benefit of our interview, she should not fear raising her voice.

Yes ’M’e, so that our matters we should be able to hear one another. The reason for which we are talking to one another here, ’M’e it is that I wish, that I should hear the issues of this village of yours of Maetsisa. Just like you are a resident of here to hear, as to the life of here at Maetsisa’s, it is which life and also the life of what kind, and so on and so on according to their different categories. Now, would you remember as when you got married here?
In sixty-eight.

It is in sixty-eight. While as for you, you were born when?
In forty-nine.

Yes, you were born where?
Mantonyane there.

Your home is in Mantonyane. Where Mantonyane?
Ha Toka.

Ha Toka. How did it come that you met a young from here, Molika-liko?
I had come to visit a child of my grandfather’s (father’s elder brother) at my grandfather’s home.

Yes, and then?
I then saw each other with that you man.

Yes, ’M’e.
Yes, and then we married one another.
Section 2
You married one another. Is it the case that when we saw each other you just married one another?
Mmm, well is it not that

Explain to me as to what happened, if you still remember.
Mmm, is it not that you know, a young man normally talks to a person and after they finish talking to one another, they will plan those of marriage.

Yes, ntate.

Yes, ’Me. Now, is it possible that you remember as to with how many cattle you were married?
You know I do not know truly.

They are known by the old ones truly.

Ao! They did not tell you?

Now, was he still a young man from here at Molika-liko, or had he built at another place?
Of right here at Molika-liko here.

He had already built here at Molika-liko here. Yes me. Your children are how many?
They are six.

They are still there all of them?
No, two have past away.

Okay. The others are four. What about the other four?
Yes, they are four.

They are still there, they are at home here?
Yes, they are still there.

There is none who has married or who has been married?
The one who is married is this same one.

As for her, she is married where?
Matebeleng there.

Right here at Matebeleng up there?

The others are doing what?
The other one has married.
Section 3
He stays at home here or has he built?
He is still at home.

The other two?
They have not yet married, two have not married.

Are they at school?

What are they doing?
They are just staying, one of them is this same small one.

Their father is where right now?
He has gone herding.

He is herding whose animals?

What is he herding?

Did you ever attend school?

You were attending school where?

You attended school up to where?
That Standard six of old, it is the old standard four. Right now it is called standard six.

Can you remember as to in your days as girls, what did you do to entertain yourselves as girls, your games as girls, do you still remember them?
It was things like khati (rope skipping), things like liketoana (knucklebones, a game like jacks, played with stones), things like chekoana (hopscotch), and ball.

In songs?
Even songs, well... of things like mokopu (pumpkin).

Do you still remember songs that you used to sing?
I no longer know them, I have forgotten I think.

From there you did not run lesokoana (stirring stick, refers to the game, masokoaneng)?
Even that was run a great deal, truly.

Is it the case that girls here do things like that?
No, they still do them things like that.
Section 4
Now, tell me of your arrival here, when you were a newly-wed, how was it? What did you do when you were a newly-wed? Is it the case that there were things that were taboo when you were a newly-wed?
I used to see that people were still living a similar life to that of where I had come from, there just remained fear in me because it was a new family in which I was coming for the first time.

What did they do to you when you arrived as a newly-wed? What laws were you given? Those that you can remember?
Here at home, there are not many things which a person is given, I do not know in other families.

You just arrived?
Yes, I just came and I was welcomed, they just slaughtered a sheep that is all. I was shown people that I had to respect and those that I do not respect. Well as for many things at home here they are not there, and they indicated that many things of Sesotho they left them completely.

Here where you have been married of what seboko (clan name/totem) are they?
They are Bafokeng (hare) by seboko.

It is apparent that many things, they are no longer doing them. You had not been taken to the well by other girls?
Yes, as for there I went.

Ao, you have forgotten things like that?
Yes, I had forgotten them truly. Is it not that it is the thing that I mean when a person has not prepared, you forget even a small thing.

Now, your work was of what kind, just like you were a newly wed, the chores that you used to do, of what kind were they?
It was to grind [flour] and to cook, just like that.

Where did you grind?
On a Sesotho grinding stone, you know; now nowadays we grind at the shops.

That grinding stone, you found it already there or not?
It was already there.

You ground what mostly?
Maize, maize has always been cultivated here.

That was the only thing that you ground?
Yes, ntate.
Section 5
Did you get up at the crack of dawn to cook thaha-meso (food that newly-weds are expected to cook and make ready first thing in the morning)?
Yes, terribly early to cook; indeed we woke up [early to cook].

Did you cook for herdboys?
We cooked for herdboys so they could go and herd.

Now the old man when he has gone to herd like this, the animals that he is herding are cattle, sheep?

How many are they?
The are five.

Now that it is being said that you are emigrating, how do you feel?
Truly I shall not be able to speak because a thing that comes to you, and people just come and say you have to do a certain thing, as for you, what would you say? There is nothing that you can say.

But how do you feel in your feelings?
You know, we did not like it, but we have now come to like it, because there is nothing we can do.

You feel that you like it even though you did not like it, why is that?
The reason that starting again is painful – even you can hear that when you leave your home and you arrive in a new house, you will feel that it is upsetting, as if you are lost. Now even us, we have been feeling is, if we are getting lost, especially things like fields, we do not know where we shall find them, because we live on agriculture in the fields, ach! Truly these are things that touch us a great deal, but then there is no opportunity [to change the situation].

Now you feel like you like?
That is, even if I do not like, there is no use, there is no opportunity.

You are emigrating to where?
Ha Makotoko?

Why did you choose Ha Makotoko?
I saw like issues of agriculture are there right there.

By saying so how do you mean?
I mean that at a time when we were going to look for sites there, I saw like agriculture is there.

You are going to get fields?
It looks like fields are there, well, we are not knowing if we are going to get them, but it was as if they are there even though they are mentioning [that] the owners are there.

Is there still a place where you will be allocated?
Yes, ntate.
Section 6
Now they have said they are going to build you a house how big?
You know, as concerns the house, I have not yet had knowledge. Truly, there is still no knowledge as to the houses. Just like they were saying that we should come and sign here now, it was found out, that there is a difficulty. We are not able to sign for houses that we have not yet seen, which we do not know. Now I have not yet known as to these houses, they are going to be how big.

But the promise had said what?
The promise is it not that they had said that it is a house for a house.

When yours are two, you will get two?
Yes ntate.

Now, how do you think you are going to live there, at Ha Makotoko when you look?
I do not know truly. I am not able to lie, I do not know truly. In fact this thing touches us badly, it is like we could not talk about it.

I hear that you say it touches you badly, it is on what points that it touches you badly?
You hear that ntate. Right now I am leaving my agriculture here. I am going to that land that I do not know, about which I am being told lies. Perhaps I do not know if I am being told lies, or it is the truth I shall find a field; now you can ask yourself as to when you are no longer ploughing and you just sitting, because as for us we live on agriculture.

Now apart from agriculture, is it the case that, that it is the only life that you live by?
You know, here there is no other life than agriculture.

The time when you have finished ploughing, just what do you do as women?
We do not do anything; we wait for hoeing, just like we do.

What about when you have finished hoeing?
We sit again.

Now, on the matter of what the children are eating. When there has been harvest from the fields, what do you normally do for lijelello (tasty food to eat with bland food such as papa) and things like that?
We plant cabbage, our gardens become full. As for now we are just eating cabbage. We dry it, we just eat makoakoa (preserved vegetables). We are just drying and eating because we plant a lot, we just look for things that make it nice. Things like potatoes like that.

They are also planted here potatoes?
Section 7
Now in this place where you are going, you will still be able to find a means of planting?
I do not know ntate. That is, that life which is new I do not have a way of answering on it; I always feel that I do not know how we are going to live.

If it was that you had a choice, what would you do?
Could it be, that it could be there?

Let us just pretend, if you were given a choice?
I would plant just like I plant here, because I know my life and the life of children is in agriculture, there is no place where I work, there is no place where I do nothing.

So that you get some tickeys (money) what do you normally do?
We sell this food grain from our fields, because we get plentiful harvest here.

In the last harvest, how much did you get?
This one that has just passed right now?

I had got six bales of maize, I sold three. There remained three.

They gave you how much money those three?
They were sold by the father (husband). We kept selling in bits and pieces.

And you just kept buying according to the needs?
Yes, ntate.

Now you see like where you are going, you shall not find an opportunity like that?
Ache, you know as for there, I do not know. As for there, I am not able to lie. Maybe I might say it will be like that, whereas it is not going to be like that, or it will be like that. The matter [is that] it is heavy there, where we have not been.

Sesotho vegetables is it the case that they are still there?
There is a lot of it, seruoe (green vegetable) and others, there is a lot of it.

Seruoe and which ones?
And lipaile, lipapasane (both wild vegetables) and so on.

Is that all? Seruoe, papasane, theepe (cultivated green vegetable), it is only them that are obtainable here, now meaning that there where you are going you mean that you will find them?
Truly I do not know. Just like that place it will, the first time that I shall be setting foot on it, I do not know anything about it.

But now how did you choose Ha Makotoko?
Is it not now that it is ntate (husband), just like I said he should come and take responsibility here.
Section 8
He is the one who made that choice?
Yes, it is him who made that choice.

As for you, you had feelings as to where you could go?
As for us we are like children, children truly.

It depends according to as to ntate has seen how?
Yes, how he sees [things] perhaps he has been there and the life of there he saw it, he saw how it was like. I do not know; we just running [behind him].

Here in your village your daughters do what kind of games?
It is them of songs, of mokopu (pumpkin song, sung by women) like that, it would then be game of ball, they play. They have formed a home team of the village here.

What about the boys?
Even them they have formed a home team of theirs of ball, they play, they have no other games.

Is it the case that there is job that you would like to do?
Ones like which ntate?

I was just saying that I should if there is any job that you might like to do.
Yes, if they are there; if it could be said there is a job, I would do it.

You would be happy to do a job of what kind?
Any job if it is enough for my hands. Just like [I am] a person of a woman. Well, not a heavy one, which would be enough for men.

It is what kind of job, which could be enough for women?
I do not know, I have not gone to work.

You have not worked all your life?
No, truly.

Ntate (the husband) as for him has he worked?
Yes, in the mines.

Now, when he was at work, what would be doing here at home?
Nothing; we are just being brought money; you eat and get full.

Now, you said you are going to emigrate when?
It was said that on the eleventh month, here it is, it is passing; they said during the month of Christmas, we do not know, and so on and so on they are just [passing] in a line we do not know.
Section 9
By the way, you said your eldest child went how far at school?
They passed standard seven only; the one who comes after them passed form B, and then she fell ill. When she had four months at school, and then she came back.

The one who comes after her?
They did form one and it happened that when they was supposed to do form B. I had problems of the owner of here (husband) of falling sick and then the money. I took the owner of here to the doctors’ and I was not able to take the child to school.

And then the last one?
He has not started attending.

How much time does he have (how old is he)?
He is six years. He will start going to school now when they open.

Ntate (husband) stopped working when?
In eighty-three.

From 1983 up now, he has been living by selling food?
Yes, ntate.

Animals, did he not sometimes sell animals?
He did not sell animals.

You sell [grain] to which people mostly?
From this region which is here, places like Bokong, Koporale, Senqunyane over there yonder. They buy it, and even now they are looking for it.

You sell to them in bales or in bags?
In bags, a bag is one twenty, (rands/maloti).

It has always been one twenty?
No, it was once eighty, (rands/maloti) last year. Now when [prices of] flour kept rising at the shops. They took those kinds of prices.

Now when you look are there things, which are you going to miss a great deal when you have emigrated?
I will miss this agriculture that we are practising, qha! (roughly: that is all). Truly I do not know that there might something else. Our life here is nice, a lot. Agriculture is our life, and especially now that we are going live a different life.

Life is nice on the point of agriculture only?
Yes, ntate!

There is nothing else that you feel is nice to you except for agriculture. In other words, is it the case that if it were to happen that even if you were not going, is it the case that you would be happy to emigrate to another place? Is it the case that there is another place that you are happy with?
No, I failed a long time ago.
Section 10
You had to emigrate to where?
Ntate (husband) had wanted to emigrate, he was not even telling me as to where we should emigrate to; immediately he said we are emigrating I said “No”, and it was that I began to say no to him.

What was it that you did not like with emigrating?
I am not able to say as to what it is that I might say I do not like, but here I liked.

The thing that you like here is just agriculture, there is nothing else?
No, truly.

Were you not having problems on matters of travelling, of journeys?
We were having problems with it when we were visiting one another, but as for me I saw it as not being a heavy life.

The matter of rivers being full?
Even it was giving us problems truly.

It was not disabling you with nothing?
Yes, unless the journey is an urgent one.

Snows, in winter?
No, we do not have a problem, we gather wood, trees there they are. We do not have a problem with it truly.

Is it the case that all the people of this village are going to Ha Makotoko?
Yes, well most of them, a large trip, most of them.

The others are going where?
They have differed like that, some are going to Ha Matala, others Ha Ntsi, it is different places.

Your neighbours or people that you might say are your friends?
People with whom we are neighbours are also my friends because we have not hated one another.

I believe that there are those who are close to you?
No, nothing [of the sort], is it not the case that people with whom we are in the vicinity of one another we will keep visiting one another.

They are going to a place where will be in the vicinity of one another?
Yes, if it is the village of Ha Mpiti or of Nazareta, is it not the case that they shall be able to get to Ha Makotoko.

But is it going to be the same as you are here?
It is not going to be the same, because now it will be at another place.

Is it the case you have associations here?
Ones which are like which ones?
Section 11
Associations of the village.

There is no bury-me-shilling here?
As for it, it is there.

What is going to happen with it when you would have separated?
You know, I do not know truly, they are still talking to one another [about it] as to what will happen now that we are going to different places, now there has not yet been any decision about it.

It is the only association, which there is here?
Yes, it is only it.

There is not this thing of stokfele (a kind of club - usually women’s - in which members take turns to give ‘parties’ to which other members are obliged to buy food and drink; way of pooling resources) or not?
Others still have it, well, as for me there is nowhere where I have joined.

Is it the case, the support for hoeing in the fields is a thing which is there?
Yes, ntate, we have it.

Is it the case that you see that you are going to continue with them where you are going?
Is it not the case that we do not know as whether the people of there are going to be happy with that condition, or they will say that these people who are coming down from there, come here and doing certain things. You hear it is heavy, we do not yet know. We have to do what is done in that village.

You should not come with your things?
Yes, truly. They are going to say these people come down from the mountains. There they are giving us problems now, and they are doing certain things. Maybe even there at matsemeng (place of communal labour) they would fight, even fighting, and they say if these beers were not made it would not be like this. We must first look when we arrive there. As to whether the people of there do this thing that we know, and we should do in a manner that it is done.

Is it the case that there is a place which you have been to or visited it?
Truly there has not been even a place that I visit. I visit my home at Mantonyane there.

You have not stayed in Maseru a time that could be a month?
No, I normally stay for some time, up to a day, or two of them.

How do you see the life of there when you look?
I see it as being very heavy; they do not have fields, they live in a difficult manner. I see them as those people who live by going to work, but work is the real thing. Now you hear that they still report they say they need a certain thing. I see like it is a difficult life, maybe it is nice when you arrive there.
Section 12
Is it the case that it is a life that you would like to live?
Of Maseru? If it is indeed the way that I have seen it, ache, I do not feel.

You do not like the things of town?
I see them as things that are just a mockery. You hear that they say that we have certain problems. Yes, well those [of the lowlands] who work live a nice life, other than those who are just sitting. Because these people are not the same there, some are just staying. Now, those who are just sitting have a problem.

Here in the village how do you see the ruling going?
As for me I see it still going well.

Do you not see like the chief of there (the new place) is not going to treat you well?
That is why I am saying. I am not going to be able to articulate those [matters] of there where I am going, because we are not going to know as to that of chief of there where we are going. He is going to arrive and to what to us.

What do you wish should happen, when you get there?
It should be just like when we are still here on good government. On points like chiefs and so on. All the life that we were living when we were still at home here. If it were to be the same, even though we do not know, there would be no problem.

Is it the case that you can articulate as to what kinds of things you would like to live, when you are there where you are going? They are what things which you could say you would like, if it were to be like this and like this?
It is the same planting which I have already mentioned, and living with the neighbours of there in peace, not with troubles. Just like this village of Maetsisa. There has not been a person who it is said that they are going to court. It is what, it is what, no. Other than that, I do not understand as to what kind of life I want, [a life] which is how.

Tell me, at a time when you were still a young girl, after you finished at school, what did you do? Is it not that you said you attended up to standard six?
It happened that immediately after I passed, just when it was being said I was being taken to school, it then happened that this abuti (term used to refer to older males) arrived and took me.

You were how many years [old]?
I was eighteen years old.

Even though it is, that there were no laws that you arrived and were given, I believe that there were things which you had learnt concerning life.
Section 13
A Mosotho girl, there are things which she is taught, so that when she is a woman she should be able to look after the family.
I do not know what they would be.

Is it the case that you already knew how to grind? Or you were taught?
I was leaving from there already knowing how to grind. Could it be cleaning in a house is a thing that can be taught?

Is it the case ’M’e Mathabo, that the way you were brought up is the same as the way that girls of nowadays grow up?
It is not the same because matters like grinding are no longer there.

The difference is only on the matters of grinding only, or there are other points which now differ with that time?
I will not be able to say… I will not be able to say yes, because now, well, I will know those in my family; in my family the difference is that one of grinding only, but other things still work just like before.

There is not difference of anything?
I teach my children just like you know that you must… she must clean in a certain manner just like that; except for grinding. As for grinding, truly, we no longer know.

There are no other certain warnings, which are different from sweeping, which you were warned of or taught, which you felt as if you could pass on to your children, but then the conditions of today do not allow? Is it the case that as for you, you were brought up in the manner in which you children you bring them up right now?
No, ntate, but what shall I say when I do not know because the way I was brought up, I bring my children up in it; now I do not know as to now I should say no, why.

Is it the case that at your home are there in Mantonyane, did you herd?
Yes ntate.

Is it the case that your children herd, [your] girls?
Yes, ntate, when their father is not there, they drive them [animals] ntate.

Do they also know how to milk?
No, even I did not know how to milk.

There is no difference between you and your daughters in your growing up?
No, ntate.

There are no things that they can complain about and say but in your days it was like this?
Ache, no, they are not there; but well, you see our ages are not that much different; forty-nine here yesterday.
Section 14
Even I am in those ages but my children are different from me.
How do they differ?

As for them they grow up in a manner that is different. On the matter of associations of improving oneself here in your area have you not yet had them?
You see this matter, ache. That in the past days, we had not had that means. Now, I do not know if these days they might see. Just like people take things from other villages as they go (around), and they can be attracted. As of right, now I had not heard when they speak [about them]. Maybe they have been disheartened when they keep hearing it being said (by Highlands) that you are going from here. Now they are just keeping quiet.

But as for you, there are associations which you would be happy if they were there, which you have seen in other villages?
I am not able to lie to you by saying with [my] eyes. I have seen them in [other] villages. I only hear from radios here. It being said that here they are, they have formed associations the wealth of chickens and others, and so on and so on, just like that. As with my eyes, I am not able to lie that I have seen them.

Here in the villages that you are one another’s neighbours, there is nowhere where people have united in associations?
Not even nothing. Truly they are not there.

At place like Koporale, they are not there, to go to places like up there Litsebe they are not there? Or in places like Jorotane, especially of the women?
It is burial ones only.

Is it the case that in this village of Molika-liko, there are things that are attractive? Or are there places which the people of here are happy with, which have certain significance right here, at Molika-liko here?
That attracts them how, ntate?

Which attracts them by the useful things that they find there, or where important things have been kept, or where important things can be found, or where there are important things which have happened, which can be remembered by their importance or with [their] problems - like that? For example, sometimes you will hear it being said that somewhere, some place, is at koetseng (at a deep place in a river) and ho ile ha hoheloa motho ea itseng (a certain person has been hypnotised and drawn into the water by a snake that lives there). Are there no places like that?
Ache, truly, other than that one with which you are making an example with it. I have heard it being said that there is one man who is called David Tsapane ea neng a hoheloe (who was hypnotised and drawn in to the water) in there, where you cross [the river to come to the village].
Section 15
It is said what was happening?
They say all of a sudden, he just went down. He had gone to make cattle drink. He then just went in there, and that was all.

Was there a lot of water?
No, they there was not a lot of it.

He was not found, or was he found?
You know I do not have proper knowledge, I do not know, you hear that it was a long time ago, ntate.

Now that you are being made to emigrate, the graves, what are going to do with them?
Ache, here (on this issue), I feel like it is ntate (husband) who can know.

I want you to give me your feelings, you in your feelings, what do you think should be done?
Mostly now, they are his parents’ [graves], truly I do not know, indeed I do not know; I am not disappointing you [deliberately].

If he says you should help him and give him your feelings, what would you say to him?
As for me I am saying we should un-dig them, and go and put them away from the water.

You should put away from the water or make them emigrate to that place where you are going?
Yes, if it were to be possible. You understand, there are things which others say are balimo (ancestors). Well, as for me, I have not come across such a difficulty. I have often heard it being said balimo. Now, it might happen that if they say we have left them in the water, where would we get them?

You have not come across that kind of problem yourself? But you have heard that there is such a thing?
Yes, ntate. Now, that is here where I am saying the graves should be removed, if it can happen that balimo be there.

How is theft here in your area?
Ache, here? Truly I have not seen it.

There is no difficult of hearing it being said that the kraal (livestock enclosure) of so and so has gone, all of it?
Even things that are stolen, are stolen at the [animal] post there, you understand it might be, it is not people from here. They are people of other places. Truly as for here we live very well.
Section 16
What times are they, that you remember which you had best time? It was when what was happening?
Truly all times I find it very nice, especially when I have change.

Which times did you feel that now you are finding it difficult?
It is this time, when now it is being said that we are going. Other than that, there has not been time when I could say I felt that I was finding it difficult.

I am thankful ’M’e Mathabo.