photo of person from Lesotho the maluti mountains
Lesotho glossary















Section 1
Well, ntate Nathnael, can you start by letting us know what your name is, that is, you tell us about yourself, where you live? All those issues that will enable us to know who you are.
Oh, my name is Seeta Lebale. I live right here in Maetisa.

Were you born here or you came when you were already old?
I was born in this place of Molika-liko, but in my village Ha Tsapane.

Oh, at Ha Tsapane.
Yes, ntate.

Can you know why it is called Maetsisa here?
Oh, well this rivulet... for it to be called Maetsisa I don’t know why our great-great parents decided to call that place Maetisa.

Yes, ntate.
Yes, ntate. Now, as far as I know, I hear it being called Maetsisa.

Is it the case that it is called Maetsisa because of the name of this rivulet?
Yes, ntate.

Well, now the village was named after this rivulet?
Yes, ntate.

Oh, ntate. Now tell me, ntate Nathnael, when you look, as a person who has grown up in this area, what do you consider the main changes in the lives of people in this area? I mean the things which you can say are very different from what used to happen from your early childhood, which ones can you pick?
Oh, ntate. Me I cannot pick them out well, all of them as to which ones are the ones which make us different. I will talk about these things, these ones which I have already mentioned relating to agriculture. Yes, agriculture here is very different; it is different from the one in the past, as the ladies have already talked about them.

Yes, where is the change?
The change of today is this to do with agriculture, which is special, in that we plant in rows. It is different from the one in the past.
Section 2
Yes, ntate.
You see, this planting in rows gives crops nutrients, especially because when you have planted in rows, then you cultivate and dig up the soil, and after you have cultivated you will weed and put more soil around them. Also with this plough of ours we take out the mould board so that it does not make heavy soil, which breaks the maize stalks, and we make only enough soil.

But when the maize is big, if you want to repeat – to put more soil around it – you will put in that mould board. Now you know that this maize is big, it won’t be covered by soil. Now, honestly, this way of ploughing is very useful. It has brought something very good for the crops, because it produces a lot of crops.

Yes, ntate. Now it is the change in agriculture because the main thing of these people is agriculture.

It is agriculture?
Yes, ntate. Now, in the past it used to be very difficult, we had to move from here and go and buy crops from very far away. But during these years, when this type of maize is grown here in this area of Mamenoana where it is planted in rows and cultivated, well honestly, many people from these villages around us, I mean places like Bokong and Ha Pokolane, they come and buy their crops here in our place.

They buy crops; they actually buy crops here.

You mean they actually buy crops? You mean you can say this place of Molika-liko is very independent as far as agriculture is concerned?
Very well, now at this present moment it is very independent as far as agriculture is concerned.

It is independent.
It is independent because it is now years since I see people coming to buy crops in this place here.

Yes, ntate.

Now, tell me as to when you look at these issues of agriculture, as you have already mentioned, I hear you making example that you here, you use the plough and you remove the mould board so that you may cultivate.
Yes, ntate.

But as you know in Lesotho there are cultivators. Now tell me as to whether here you are lazy to buy cultivators or what is happening.
Truly speaking, some of us cannot afford cultivators. Others do not have them.
Section 3
But most people are used to the plough because it is able to dig up a lot of soil. During the time when the mould board has been removed, you are digging out only enough soil because the maize is still small, but when the maize is big, yes, you dig more soil because the mould board has been put in.

That is why I say many people are used to it because it makes more soil than that of the cultivator.

Of the cultivator.

But you, you are somebody who ploughs?
Yes, ntate.

Are you actually a farmer?
Yes, ntate.

You have how many fields?
I do not have any fields that belong to me alone.

I plough lihalefote (literally halves, share cropping)

You plough seahlolo (singular of sharecropping)?
Yes, ntate. I engage in ploughing lihalefote with people of liahlolo.

Yes, in full force? Besides ploughing the fields, in these issues of agriculture, is there any particular area to which you are inclined?
No, ntate.

There is nothing?
Nothing at all.

You don’t have animals; you don’t plant in the gardens, maybe vegetables, etc?
Well, no animals I do have them.

Oh, you have animals?
Yes, ntate, I have them, they are here I mean in my premises. I plant here at my place.

Yes, ntate.
Section 4
You mean you plant vegetables or other types of plants in any other possible way?
I plant vegetables, actually it is different types of vegetables and so on.

Different types?

You also said you have animals?
Yes, ntate.

Are they sheep, are they cattle?
Oh, well sheep I used to have them before. Honestly I used them for other purposes. What remains is cattle.

It is cattle?
Yes, and horses and donkeys.

Horses and donkeys how do they help you?
Horses and donkeys help me in different ways, donkeys to carry on their backs.

Actually what do you load on donkeys?
Crops from fields there to bring them home, whether I am going to buy crops, donkeys really help carrying loads on their backs.

Oh, you put load also on the horses?
Horse, one of its other roles if it not loaded, it is being used for riding.

It is being ridden?
Yes, ntate, during the time when attending to businesses.

Let’s pass this issue of agriculture now, ntate Natenaele. In one word or two or three words, can you say this place of Molika-liko in agriculture, what is it that you like most about it? When we look at the issues of agriculture.
Ntate, it is actually agriculture; I love it very much because it is the place where I have lived for a long time, but agriculture it is the first thing.

It is actually the first thing?
It is this place which I say, although we are moving from it, we do not know exactly whether, where we are going, we will still live the way we lived in this place where we used to live in this way.

Actually why do you like it that much, is it because people are used to ploughing a lot or there is a secret which you see this place has which is not there in other areas?
Oh, agriculture, I mean agriculture, I mean this agriculture we do, actually it is very good. Whether it, the agriculture of this thing of ours, cannabis, maize, it is wheat, as it is the economy of this country, actually it is very good. It helps us in all businesses, it really helps us.
Section 5
Maybe we should clarify it well so that it can be straightforward. You had said that all these villages surrounding you buy crops, why don’t they plough for themselves?
They still plough. It is just that when it comes to here, you find a lot of maize. These villages – it doesn’t mean that they do not plough, they still plough, but the crops are not as much as they are in this place.

In Molika-liko, what do you see as the secret?

The secret is what, what is it that makes you produce the crops in abundance?
[Laughing] It is the soil; the soil here is far better than that of the nearby areas.

The soil of Molika-liko.
It is the one that when it has been properly worked on, as we work on it well, and the rain comes and there isn’t too much sun – which destroys the plants – then everything turns out well. We can say that soil is the one thing that has made this place have crops in abundance.

Yes, ntate, you have straightened it up this issue of agriculture. Let’s pass to another point. Of late, there has been a big complaint regarding the way children and the youth are being raised. Some people say well these youths of today are baehlotse, they are out of their parents’ hands, they are being chased this and that way. Here how is it?
There, ntate, it is like that, it is like that honestly. These ones are different from us when we were at the same ages in those past years.

Those ones are different from those ones which you used to see.
These young people now actually are not the same as the ones before, which means that when the years change all other things change, even the children of today are different from the children we were in the past. Well these ones of today, they have got very many things, so much that we suspect that maybe there have been changes as far as reprimanding and bringing up is concerned, which is different from how we were brought up.

Yes, what do they do?
There are many things that they do now. I suspect that their knowledge is too much, because sometimes a child – you can talk to him as your own or not your own, when you see him doing what is not good. When you talk to him as a person - “Hey, my child, I see you doing something which is not very nice” - you will see him as somebody who does not care about whatever you are saying, which indicates that he is not interested in listening to an elder person when they reprimand him. Whether it is his parent or somebody else, he does not listen.
It is on very rare occasions that you can say [anything]. Let’s say he is walking with somebody, a girlfriend, but when you see him he is not ashamed and he does not run away, as you are an elder person. He won’t even say “There is ntate so and so”, or “There is an elder person”, showing some embarrassment. They no longer do that; they just stand there. You will find that you are the one who ends up being embarrassed - you, as an elderly person.
Section 6
And move out of the way?
And move out of the way.

They come dragging their feet?
They come dragging their feet there. Now you understand that it is something embarrassing honestly for elderly people when you think that you were not leading that type of life which is now being led by the youth. It is another thing which has changed the condition of personality from the personality we used to have.

Now, lets look ntate, when you compare the youth with these ones in the village of Maetsisa, maybe even with those from other places - lets take from shacks such as Ramohope - maybe going down in towns, going down places as far as Ha Ntsi, Ha Makhalanyane, and so on, there in towns. When you compare the youths here, their growth and growth of other youths from other places, how do you see it?
Honestly, since in those other villages I have never lived there for a long time, I do not know exactly how it is, because I have never lived there to learn how the situation is as far as the growth of the youths is concerned.

Tell me whether you, when you see a child doing a mistake, do you reprimand him, a child who is not yours?
Honestly, ntate, we do try to reprimand, if it is a child I know. “Here, when you do this, you are making a mistake”. I actually reprimand him. But if I see that this person can be reprimanded, he understands, whatever I am stopping him from doing he will stop, but if he does not care and maybe he does not understand, I leave him alone.

You are going to ignore him?
Yes, because sometimes he might say something which might not please me.

You, do you have children, ntate?

How many?
They are seven.

Seven, are they all working?
They are not working, ntate.

Where are they?
They are still around.

Are they helping in looking after the animals and taking care of agriculture?
They are the ones who are doing all my jobs; I just order them to do whatever I want them to do.
Section 7
Do they attend school?
Those who remain attend school. Now they are four.

Where, right here in Molika-liko, what about the church?
Yes they go to church.

Right over there.

Well here in Molika-liko it is the Anglican Church. Maybe we should finish off by you telling me about how you see the relationships in this village. I mean I would like you to tell me the issues such as when there are feasts, when somebody is going to have a feast, what happens, how do people help each other? Do you have some jobs which you do jointly in villages?
Ntate, there are like feasts... Actually, when they are there, maybe you want to make a feast, now you can inform us, then there will be cooperation. We can help that woman until the work is finished. Now, if you have some wood, well, you can inform the men: “Hey, gentlemen, I have some wood over there which needs to be brought home”. Well, it still happens.

It still happens?
Yes, those are the kinds of assistance, maybe even something like a society. Yes, women can help each other within that society, collecting wood so that on the day of the feast then…

Do you actually have societies here?
Yes, ntate.

Can you count them for me?
Well, many of them I cannot count them for you, actually they are many, but they are for burial.

Yes, ntate, it is that some of them are for the things like stokvels (a club where members pool resources) to help. Well, we brew liquor, we help each other. Some of them are societies of maybe days like these ones of Christmas, these women pay out money, maybe monthly in such a way that they can agree with each other. When the day has come and they have finished their work, they take the money and share it amongst themselves.

In this case, can you say there is cooperation amongst neighbours in your village?
Yes, ntate, it is actually there.

In agriculture, do you actually join hands?
No, not unless there is somebody who died, now there is this part of Sesotho which people do. There at so and so’s field, we are going to ho hata maoto.

Yes, can you explain it to me?
Yes, this thing of ho hata maoto when a person has died, people will go to that field, whether it will be with four of five spans of cattle, it does not matter. They will go there and plough that field until they have ploughed the whole field that day. Food will be cooked for that field, and it will be eaten right there at the field until it is finished.
Section 8
Is it that it is when the owner…
Has died.

The issue of you going to plough does it consider the ploughing season or as soon as the person dies you go and ploughing?
Oh, ntate, actually if it is the ploughing season it can happen immediately.

Yes, ntate, supposing it is done during the time when we are going to weed, is still the same issue?
Oh, it is still the same issue. Yes, ntate, we go and weed there at the field. I once saw it happening and the things like food were eaten there at the field.

Who cooks it?
It is the owner of the feast.

It is the owner of the feast? What is the purpose of this process of ho hata maoto?
The issue of ho hata maoto, I think it is for the purpose of, I think Basotho, maybe it was something which they did so that when someone has died, then people go and hata maoto in his field in the sense that the field is being ploughed. Now I don’t know what type of use it has. It is like it was something which Basotho children got used to, and made it their thing which they say it is their custom.

I have interest in this one of custom as to who does it, who sets the date? Let me say it is the gentleman here who dies and the lady is still in mourning period.
This one will be done by the family.

Which means you already know in the village how you work. Now, here in this issue of custom, maybe we should relate it to this issue of the growth of children. Is there still initiation here?
Yes, ntate, it is still there.

Do you still see it as important as before?
Ntate, I still see it as important although people in the earlier days did not use, uh, the situation like the present one. The people of today are no longer as good as the ones of the past, of the olden days. But what remains is that the custom is still being practised.

Do you think if the custom is no longer followed, can there be any danger?
Yes, ntate, there can be danger because sometimes a person can just ignore and say, “No, me, honestly, I don’t want to do what was done by our grandparents”. And then as you grow up there come the gods, and then they say, “Your part we would like you to do it this way”. It is that, we talk about it two times, that there are people who are attacked by a certain disease and become sick only to find that the gods say, “Go and become a sangoma (Zulu word for traditional doctor). And then he becomes sangoma and he is being fehlelloa (to churn a drug into froth for patients to swallow). Somewhere it is said that, “No, we would like you to do this to this person”, you will have to go.
Section 9
The gods will come to him?
Yes, the gods will come to him in many different ways, ntate, as they say. To some people it happens in dreams because, yes, their gods are people who have passed away and they come to you in many dreams, "we would like you to do this" or they will come to you in the form of diseases. You will become sick and then when you are sick maybe in your sleep you dream about someone there and you are told, “Go to so and so, that he should do this and that”. It will be something which comes that way, but supposing you were sick, after you have fulfilled what you found in your dreams, you will be healed.

You will be healed, now which means that the gods are still very useful in the lives of people?
The gods are useful in the lives of people because they are the people who maybe we can say they know, they have power over the lives of people who are still living, although they themselves have died.

It is the way you see them?
Yes, ntate, we normally hear people saying, “Honestly, eh, my gods, it seems they are still protecting me”.

They are still protecting me?
My god! [Laughter]

My gods and my God! [With great laughter]
Yes, now we find that it is something that exists, people talk about something that exists.

This village of yours, can we count it amongst those which are troublesome?
No, ntate, troublesome, honestly I have never known it to be appearing amongst those which are troublesome.

It is the village which is very stable, which is quiet?
Honestly, it is stable, I have never known it... honestly it does not have many things which are troublesome, but here and there, it may happen that people themselves in the village may have certain grudges, but when things are being discussed it is found that those can be discussed and be let to pass.

I want the secret of your village, as to when other villages of late complain of noise and fights which you find that every day meetings are being held, even when an attempt is made to reconcile people so that they can straighten up their problems, it looks like they still fail to straighten them up. Now I am saying the secret here in your village, what can you say it is, what it is that when there are problems here they are being worked out jointly and being straightened up?
Oh, a person when maybe you have some difficulty that you quarrel with somebody, you have to meet with that somebody, and if you realise that you do not agree then you will go to the chief: “Hey, chief, it looks like we do not see eye to eye with so and so for such and such reasons. Now can you bring us together?” Now they will work together on this issue, and if it continues they will forward it to the chief in the higher rank. He will also bring them together to hear this issue.