photo of person from Lesotho the maluti mountains
Lesotho glossary














My surname is Pule. You are talking about my grandfather, the old one.
Section 1
You were born right here ?
Yes ntate.

You said your family came from Mohale’s Hoek when they came here?

Was it your grandfather ? Is he the first person [in your family] to come here?
Yes ntate.

In other words you are in the third generation?
Yes ntate.

It is your grandfather, your father, and then it is you?
Yes ntate.

How do you live here ? You live by doing what?
By planting… you mean where food is concerned or life, you mean how ntate?

Life in general. Food and…?
Planting; should I actually speak about agriculture ? That is the life; well also if a person goes to work at places like the mines there, that is the life.

To the mines you go when it is how? I am asking like this, because I know that it is said that the agriculture of here is strong enough, that you can live on it without having to go and work. Now, when you go to the mines, it is when it is like what? When a person ends up going to the mines, it is when what would have happened?
Oo, to go to the mines, well, it is to look for money. In fact it is a long time ago when it used to happen. Well, even if you have food in the house, money is it not ntate, it is a thing which is still necessary that it should be there. Even if you were to have this food like wheat, what, that is there, but money is still necessary that it should be there in the house.
Section 2
But is it not that you could sell food and get money?
Yes. But now, properly, we still went to the mines; well, it being the aim that a person should have a means to look for money by the manner that you should find a lot of it in the mines there.

You have how many fields?
Mmm, me I do not have a field altogether.


What happened?
I see that I had this mother (wife) well, the one that I live with may the fields when they had now… virgin land was finished I think. In fact I just live on halves (sharecropping) here, I plant in halves.

You plant in halves? With who?
With people.

Yes, with kind of people? Those who need things like…?
Those who still have the means to have things like that; but then I usually ask for some halves.

You never find a problem?
No ntate.

All the time there are people who are prepared to plant in halves?
Yes ntate.

Why? When in fact you are actually saying they have the means?
Well, it is their liking so that we plant together. It is their liking that we plant with them in halves.

Now, do you change them these people or there are actually people that you plant in halves with?
Indeed there are actually those that I plant in halves with. In fact it has ever been the case that I have planted in halves with one person particularly. Even others, well, we did plant [together] and we did stop; we planted we stopped. In fact he is there the one with who we plant in halves all the time; all this time it has ever been the case truly that we are just planting with him.

Now, how was it… what happened to your family’s fields?
My family’s?

Them, they are still there.

They are planted by who?
By my father.
Section 3
Oo, your father is still alive?
Yes ntate.

Now him, you do not help?
I do not help him?

You do not plant with him?
Ache, we did plant together in the past, not now.

Now, when you plant in halves, what happens? You agree in what way?
In halves?

Oo, no ntate, in halves, when the crops have germinated, we harvest with the owner of the field until we have finished, and share the food equally, the ones which are on the field.

Now, him he comes with a field, you the person who is going to plant in halves you put a hand in (contribute) by doing what?
Seed. You come with your seed. With your cattle.

His is only the field?
Yes ntate. That is, well, me the person that I work with, because now he is an elderly person, ache, I usually find that if they were to… he is that field of his, only I usually come with everything.

Now, how much do you harvest on a good year?
Truly when the year is good, two bales can easily be there and a few bags on the side. From one field.

How big are his fields in size?
They are big truly. They are big; in fact it is a big field.

Who is it… he is ntate who?
She is an old lady who is called ’Me ’Malitlama.

Nkhono ’Malitlama?

Now when you have planted and harvested well, you are able to make the children live the whole year round?
Very well, ntate.

Yes; and you would even be able to buy them clothes?
Yes ntate, it is not a problem.
Section 4
You usually sow what kind of crops?
Maize and cannabis. Or should we not talk about them, because [planting it] is a contravention of the law?

What does it do?
I am saying or should we not talk about it, because it is a contravention of the law here at home (in Lesotho)?

I am not a policeman!
Yes; no, is it not that I also know it might all of a sudden be said “Oo, this person actually just lives on this cannabis only”. But it is well known that it is like that. All over here. Wherever it is planted inside the country, they live on it. Even other people, truly, even the place of gold, they do not know it, they just live on cannabis. You understand that cannabis is actually the wealth of this land. Even though, truly, somewhere it is said, that it is a thing which is a mistake; yes, it is a mistake, because truly in law, it is a thing which is like a diamond, which you cannot use outside of the law. But then, as for it, it is true that we live on it.

But does it ever happen that people be arrested, [the people] of here? Be arrested for cannabis? Is it a thing that ever happens?
Yes; well, a long time ago. In the past years, it is a thing that used to happen that people be arrested; well, but not now.

It would be when, what was happening? Where were they arrested? Did they find them in the fields, or did they find them carrying cannabis?
Yes, when they find them carrying it; they actually arrested them.

Now, it is not a thing that happens any longer?
Ache, it… no, right now, well, it may be along the roads here, by the way of the roads here, things like that.

Now these things of the fields, is it the case that you change, or you just sow one crop?
No, them, they are changed, well, it just depends on the type crop that person wants according to the fields, like that.

That is, the change depending on what you want or for the benefit of the soil?
Yes, and also depending on what kind of crop you want. Well, also for the benefit of the soil, it also happens, but actually it is not in many cases. I see like maize, they actually… usually… I usually plant it myself. Indeed, I usually plant maize particularly and cannabis. Wheat well, it is by chance I can plant it.


Oo, there is still a lot of time that passes while you’re planting maize only, without changing altogether?
Yes ntate; a long one.
Section 5
The thing that particularly troubles the agriculture of here, is which one?
In agriculture?

Yes; the thing that troubles, which one is it?
No truly, there is nothing that troubles; except for weeds only.

No truly.

There is not problem?

But the thing that you think makes the agriculture of here succeed, is which one? Why is it that the agriculture of here succeeds?
When it has been better, and the year has been good, and then you turned your fields there, and then the rain was good and fell when they were still… and you ploughed well, that you did not hit against a problem when you plant, or the difficulty was that the sun was standing (there was drought). After it would be that you would have finished ploughing, you weeded and those crops grew up well, and we weeded for them well, ache, your agriculture will be good truly.

But you know all those things sometimes happen in the lowlands there, and still agriculture would not be good.
Yes, when the sun is there (when there is drought). Just like it (the sun) stood like this. Now we talk about that the year is bad. The thing that I am pointing to is that it sometimes happens that the rain would be good, it would be weeded and done what, and yet when they harvest they would not harvest well (not very much).

Now this thing gave me the understanding that here, there must be something else which is special, which makes it that you harvest well when the year is good.
Ache, truly I do not know as to what it could be. That is, I have not seen here. The thing that I am talking about is if the sun is there; that is the only thing that can be a mistake.

The sun?
Yes, [say] the sun stood and the rain was not able to make the crops grow well by falling in large quantities; that is the only little mistake.

So what do you normally do when the year has been bad?
No, truly we usually do not do anything. Just if the crops are not good in the fields; well, it is still apparent that well, food is not good in the fields; we usually do not do anything.

But does it become clear in advance when the year is going to be bad?
Just the sun; that is the thing that can make us fail [to make] good work.

Snow never gives you problems?
No, not at all; it never gives us problems, truly.
Section 6
But does it snow here?
Yes ntate.

And it would take how long to melt?
No truly, actually it is not that much. Just like if [it] fell during the night today, if the day were to waken up clear, and it shone just like it is shining like this, here it finishes (melts); it would only be the one on the mountain that would remain. Immediately when the sun just rises here at this place, it finishes here.

Yes, frost is usually present here.

The normal winter one?
Ache, from the month of March it comes. From the month of March it gets frost-bitten. Frost starts being there now.

And it never happens that it catches the maize [before it is beyond the danger]?
Sometimes it catches it; the ones that, well, are still late. The ones that are late get caught and are frost-bitten.

When you compare harvest at the time that you were growing up and now, do you see like it has gone down or gone up?
Ache, the harvest nowadays has gone up quite a lot. It has gone up because is it not the case that the conditions are not as they were before, ntate? In the past they used to just sow like this. They just sowed by hand (broadcast) and after that they would just leave the field like that. As long as it had been hoed, it would be all right. Now, these days, the crops are truly very nice, because in this same place where we are, in fact when the harvest is good, the people of here are strange by nature. Accordingly with this seed, they plant this one called hlaka-le-boea (literally, “the stalk is hairy” Sesotho name for a variety of maize), this one.

Of what?

Hlaka-le-boea is what?
This maize that they have sown.

It is called hlaka-le-boea?
Yes ntate. Its other name is hlaka-le-boea; ‘ma-menoana; (literally “mother of one with little teeth”- suggesting a small probably hard variety of maize); that is, it is called by those two names; in fact it is quite good truly.

Now the reason being which one? Is it that same one of seed, or there is something else which makes it that it should succeed more than the one of the old days?
In the old days it was not there this maize; they were not planting this one.
Section 7
Meaning that the thing that helped, is that a certain kind of maize is now being planted? In other words, you ended up finding the kind of maize suitable for this place?
Yes ntate. That is, in fact as for it, truly it is quite good, truly because as for this seed it is not afraid of the sun (drought) that much. As long as you have hoed well and weeded well, just like you see it still – it being weeded like this, being hoed for well and weeded - no, truly, it is very good, truly.

Have you ever worked in another place other than Molika-liko here? Is there a place that you left home here and went to work there?
Yes, in the mines.

How long?
I started in 1972, I stopped in 83

Why? What was happening? You stopped why?
Oo, I then became tired of going to the mines, I then stopped, and then just herded these animals that I have.

How did you acquire the animals themselves?
I acquired them how?

I bought cattle while I was in the mines.

Oo; where did you buy them? Right here at home or…?
No, in the mines there.

Oo, you came up [from the mines] with them?
Yes ntate. Well, it used to happen that, even when I got home here, I used to buy some sheep. And well, they were successful for me, and they proliferated for me those things.

They are how many, your animals right now? You have how many cattle and how many sheep?
Well, sheep I kept using them and they ended up coming to a point where they got finished truly. Cattle are the things that are still there a little, truly.

They are how many?

I have 24 right now.

Is it small that number, or is it big now that you are laughing like this?
No, truly it is actually there (it is satisfactory).

It is there?
Section 8
Yes, they are not small [in number].
It is there truly; to just speak the truth of God, that number is there. They are many cattle like that ntate.

I saw you laughing and I thought you did not find them enough.
No, they do not make me complain.

Yes. Please tell me about the planting and selling of cannabis. When do you plant it?
When [regular crops] are sown.

Yes. And you harvest it when?
We are already harvesting it right now (February).

Right now?
The one that is ripe, we are already harvesting it and just selling, truly.

When you compare the expenses that you get into when you plant cannabis, and the expenses that you get into when you sow other crops, you see more expenses being where?
No, they are not there.

They are not different, or they are not there?
Expenses in fact they are not there, because I say, as long as you have seed it is alright; there are no expenses. Because you sow, you hoe, those are the only expenses that we can say they are there, because that is your task you must go and hoe there where you have sown.

When you sow here, these lines, you make them with what?
By hand.

By hand?

And weeding?
With a plough.

What do you do to a plough?
We take away from it this ploughshare. When the maize [crop] is still young, we take out this ploughshare, and then we would put on it this poto (mould board for ploughing), and then we would put on it this ploughshare that has been cut [by wear and tear], and then we would go ahead and do some work.

By the way, which one is poto? Is it this straight one?
This thick one at the back here. Poto is this thing at the back here, which brings down the sod at the back here.
Section 9
You take it out?
Yes ntate. At the time when the maize is still young, so that it should not cover this maize because now it is still young, that is why we take it out. Now, but when it is now big then, we put in poto now and then - just like when you are ploughing - so that it should be able to make a lot of soil.

Now, when you compare the money that you get when you sell cannabis and when you sell ordinary crops, which one is more?
The one for cannabis is not equal to the one of maize. The one for cannabis is still higher than that of maize.

A bag is how much right now?
It depends on how the sales go right now, because now, right now the prices have gone a little up truly. They still come to [sums like] 400 rands, like 200 rands, depending on, well, what the buyers say.

Meaning that your price is set by the buyers or are you the ones who set it?
You; now the buyer will also come pleading/bargaining in a manner that he will bargain.

And then it would depend on you whether you listen to him or not?
Yes; but if truly in fact the price, we say the price is this much, it is alright we shall set it as it is. If it is 200 rands, it is 200 rands; if it is 500, it is 500. It will just depend on person as to truly his condition favours that he should do what.

You never agree [on a common price]?
As a village?

No. Truly this one we never talk about truly. It may happen, but in this village, maybe let us say we like that the price should be a certain thing but maybe the difficulties if they are to be there and then we have set the price and then these buyers say “Ache, us we are buying for this much”. You understand that me I have problems, and now I shall not be able to pass these problems of mine, because of the reason that truly we have set a price maybe now at which the buyer is not buying. But if it is sitting as it is, you say “No, the price is this much”; it will still work as it is.

These people who buy, are there now people that you know or there arrives new faces every day?
Truly others are there who are known who actually buy several times.
[Calls to a crying child]
Please come and tell me child, what is it?

Is he yours?
Yes ntate.
Section 10
Yours are how many, them the children?

Were you still around when this thing of the Highlands Water [Project] started here?
Yes ntate.

Please remember the first time when you first heard about the people of the Highlands Water; what did they say when they came to tell you that you have to move from here? What did they say? On the very very first time when they started.
When they started, they were pointing out that the dam will be there somewhere - at Ha Mohale. And actually they pointed out that that dam will be at Ha Mohale. Water will be taken, the same water will be used a great deal, but then somewhere it was found out that people will work at these places in the way that they do those tasks of the dam. It was like the work itself would go in the river here, and that it (the water level) would not reach here. Not now when it is now said that the water is now going to be a dam here; it was like it is water that would only go as far as the river there only. Now as time went on truly they said, “Aikhona (No!), the water it seems that it shall overflow to the top and fill this whole area here”. I came to know that much truly.

Now on the point of you being made to emigrate, I want to hear as to what did they say during the very very very first time when they talked to you, on the point of being made to emigrate.
At first it was like we are not emigrating.


And then what happened when this thing of emigrating appeared? Where did it come from?
Ache, we heard it truly as a talk that is spoken, [people were saying] “Ache, we shall have to emigrate, truly the water is going to cover everything here”. Just like there where it is called Katse there. Now truly we felt that we did not understand it properly as to what it could be, it is what kind of thing that the water will cover this place that is here. It put us in a little problem like this that it does not give us comfort truly. But then we continue to make it truly, that we should end up having the familiarity, that we should have an understanding, because now it was a thing that was talked about many times for a long time.

Giving them your reasons for not wanting to leave?

They brushed them aside by saying what?
Ache, truly it appeared that now that the water will be here it… we shall have a small problem, because now the place that is here is going to be covered by water. And then we shall be bound to leave. Altogether we had to leave, we are leaving [from] here. We agree with that kind of talk; truly if water is going to cover here truly we shall have to leave. We do not have a chance.
Section 11
Now, you reasons were only associated with agriculture and property or were there other reasons that you were suggesting ?

There are many.

Please tell me others that are not associated with agriculture and property.

This place, is it not that we are used to it? It is our home area here, ntate, we were born in it. We know all the reasons (difficulties, advantages etc) of this place that is here, what life is like here, how we have lived here this long, ever since we were born here. Now, when we are going to start a new life that we do not know, we feel that it is something else that we do not know.

Is it the case that you have a problem with the compensation that you have been promised?
Of what?

The compensation that you have been promised; do you have a problem with it?
Ache, I am not able to speak properly, because I do not know whether I shall say I have problems or I do not have problems, because it has not come to a stage where it is implemented.

Now you, you have chosen to go where?

Ha Makotoko.

You like it, the life of Ha Makotoko?
Ntate I do not yet know how it is. But I say that I should say yes because now here it is, I am already going there.

But when we take the life of the lowlands in general – have [you] ever been to the lowlands?

Do you see like you would be happy to live there?
I did not want actually to go there.
Section 12
What is it that you do not like in the lowlands?
Ache, it is because actually I have come not to be used to it this place of the lowlands. Ever since I have always been used to here where I still am. I have always lived here, from a long time ago.

Now here it is you are moving, whose do you think that fault is? Is it the case that it is the governments, or it belongs to the people of the Project, or is it the king’s? The fault is whose?
Ache, I do not have the knowledge as to whose the fault is. I think it belongs to the one who made it that there is going to be water in this country.

Yes; you say you see what happening?
I say I see like it belongs to that person who made it that water be there in this country.

Now of these three categories, you do not know who made that decision? Between the king and the government and the Highlands Water?
Because this thing is old, we keep hearing that it has long been there ntate, ache, I feel that I do not know what I should say. Indeed we hear that it has long been there this thing, and me, I would say according to me, if I could speak well, this one who signed for the Highlands Water to be there in this country of Lesotho, they are the one who made a mistake.

Meaning who?
That person

It is said that it is Lekhanya, when we hear it being said, I do not know him, me I was not there.

You were not there?
Yes ntate, I hear that he is the one who made those signings.

Is the case that there is something that you do here to make sure that [the number of] animals should not be heavy (exceed) on the pasture?
Should not be heavy on the pasture?

No, the animals of here in fact they are not heavy on the pasture. The others well, we have taken them to the animal posts, others are still at home here. Their pasture is enough for them because there is a lot of pasture.

And there is nothing that you do, to make sure that the numbers, that you say are adequate now, will not exceed there and be heavy on the pasture at some point?
No, they will not be heavy on the pasture.

Why? If they become many they will be more than the pasture [can carry].
Section 13
No. The ones that are here are enough for their pasture.

Yes; now my question is as to what do you do to see to it that now that it is that they are enough for the pasture now, what do you do so that they shall not be more than [the carrying capacity of] the pasture.
No ntate, in fact we have not done anything. Because we have not come across a difficulty like that.

What about this soil of the fields? This soil is soil to be a fertile soil.
This one of here?

Yes; is it the case that there is a thing that you do, so that it should stay in this condition and should not deteriorate?
No; actually as for it, it has been fertilised by God, this one. It has always been like that. There is nothing that is done (added) to the fields here, nothing.

Do you not fear that God will tire one of these days?
No, God cannot tire against his people because he is the Creator of all things. I have never heard said that he is tired ntate.

This aloe that goes round and round this one. What is it called?

Kharetsana. I hear it being said that there are people who sell it?
I have not seen them.

You have not seen them?

You do not know anything about it being sold?
No truly. Altogether; we just hear ourselves being reprimanded that truly we should not sell it, just like we are being trained.

But you have not seen a person who is selling it?

If a person were to come here and say to you, he encourages you to reduce your stock, and rear fewer improved animals, what would you say?
Encouraging me to do that?

Is it not the case that he would give me reasons that make it that he should encourage me to do that?

Yes, he will give you those reasons, and he would say among those reasons, one of them is that these animals should not be too many, and also that if they are for milk they should produce more milk and if they are sheep that produce wool which… [Pause in interview] You should reduce this stock of yours and look for improved animals, what would you say?
If well, I understand those reasons that he says, it could happen.
Section 14
You can do it?
Yes, if I understand. It could happen.

If he gave ones like these ones of mine, would you understand?
Saying what?

Saying, cattle, buy four milk cows; and buy these sheep with a lot of wool and they will bring you money. Not that you should have 28 cattle here, when you milk here they should produce this much little drop of milk; others are those that you plough with. And he says these ones that you plough with, you should buy strong cattle; you will need only four instead of that you have to use ten oxen, for example.
Yes ntate, in fact that news is the right one, that we keep hearing, which is being said.

Now a person coming here and encouraging you then, on these reasons, saying reduce this number of these cattle of yours. Have only so few milk cattle, which will produce a lot of milk; and have only so few that will be able to plough. Would you agree to reduce them?
Yes, if the understanding is there. If the understanding is there and I have already known that. Ache, for these reasons I can reduce these things of mine, basing myself on the fact that if I reduce this many, but profit will be there at such and such a point. I would not just reduce, saying that I am just reducing, before I know what will happen after I have reduced these things.

Now when he has given you reasons like these ones that I give you, is it the case that you would understand?
My matter, I am saying ntate, I should see first, and I should also have an understanding of as to after the reduction, what is it that I am going to harvest.

No, I am saying that this person is saying to you he says…

[I cut the tape off here to continue the discussion]