photo of person from Lesotho the maluti mountains
Lesotho glossary

Lebeko, and



male and female




chief and chieftainess


Ha Tsapane


October 1997



Section 1
How many children do you have?
LT: My children, I have three boys and four girls, so I have seven children.

They are seven in all.
LT: Yes. One passed away.

Let me play you the tape so you can hear your voice on tape.
Could you tell me about your history in this village?
LT: I have always been living well here since growing up.

By the way where were you born?
LT: I was born right here and I am getting old right here.

Yes ntate.
LT: Yes ntate, I grew up eating well, without buying potatoes or any other vegetables, without buying grain either, even now I still have plenty of food in my houses.

Yes ntate.
LT: I have my sheep, I mean animals.

How big is your herd?
LT: My herd, I cannot really tell you because I have sheep, goats, cattle, horses and even donkeys.

How many fields do you have?
LT: I have two fields.

How have your fields been, all along from the time when they were your fatherís?
LT: From the time when the fields were my fatherís we have been living well off since then even when they are mine.

Yes ntate, have you noticed any changes in climate over time? Things like droughts?
LT: Yeah, sometimes we have droughts like we do right now.
Section 2
Apart from these droughts are you still satisfied with your yields?
LT: Ntate, we eat very well. We do not have to buy vegetables.

Ntate, could you just tell me about your personal history?
LT: Ntate?

Things like, what did you do when you were growing up, where you worked and such things.
LT: Um! I worked in the [Orange] Free State in Western Holdings gold mines number 2 and then I went to Witbenk in the Caral mines. In Witbenk is where I stayed for some time.

Yes Ntate.
LT: Ntate.

How long did you stay in Witbank?
LT: Witbank? Um, I do not really know because I used to come home and then go back to the mines, so I really cannot say how long I stayed in Witbank.

Ntate, was your father born here or did he come from another place?
LT: My father was born here and he died here.

Yes Ntate.
LT: Yes Ntate, I am now left with my mother.

Oh, so your mother is still alive?
LT: Yes, ntate.

What do your children do?
LT: My children? Due to lack of employment, they are just roaming about, not doing anything specific.

Yes Ntate.
LT: Yes ntate. Two of them are working in the fields right now, one is seeking employment somewhere else.

Are any of your children married?
LT: Yes, one girl is married as well as two boys.

Yes ntate, I understand. How about other people in the village, do they have enough food?
LT: Ntate, the people of this village have plenty to eat except for the lazy ones. There are those who do not want to work.

Yes ntate, how about schools, is there a school nearby?
LT: Yes there is s school here at Molika-liko.
Section 3
I see, how about a church?
LT: The church is right there where the school is.

I see. Does your mother ever get ill?
LT: My mother?

LT: She does sometimes get sick. Even my father used to get sick because he had been to Hitlerís war.

Where do you take them when they are sick?
LT: There is a doctor in Likalaneng.

I see. Are the traditional customs still practised a lot in this village?
LT: Here? There is still a lot of initiation in schools although I did not want to go through it personally.

They take all the children including girls?
LT: Yes. Both boys and girls. There are girls in that village beyond the mountain who are going through the process now.

They are still there even now. How about funerals?
LT: We have burial societies which help with the funeral expenses. They bury them in expensive caskets not the cheap ones that we use.

How did your sons get married?
LT: They eloped with their wives.

Oh! I see. So what do you do when he comes with this girl?
LT: Oh well, I go to the girlsí parents and tell them that my son has taken their daughter. They normally tell me to give them six heads of cattle for their daughter. But we have lost what used to happen in our traditional ways. We give the girls parents more than six cows, sometimes less according to different peopleís wealth. This is how it is.

Yes Ntate. Is there anything at all you would like to tell me about the history of this village and its people, anything at all?
LT: The old things, I have forgotten quite a number of these.

Ntate, things that happened when you were growing up and maybe you do not see them happening right now.
LT: Um! The older things, um! Our mothers used to grind grain with their malaoala (grinding stones) and roll the mealies into lipolokere (steamed loaves of bread) and what was known as mosolotsoana.

Could you explain to me what mosolotsoana is?
LT: Mosolotsoana? Let me say before the papa (maize porridge, staple food) could be rolled into liperlokere some of the papa will be taken from the pot and it will be rolled over the mill to clean the mill and that papa is what is known as mosolotsoana.

Section 4
I see. Let us carry on along the lines of what used to happen in the olden days but is not happening today.
LT: Um! I think that is all I have to say about what I know in the olden days. There is no more.

How were the initiation schools in the old days?
LT: The old initiation schools and procedures were different from what is happening now.

LT: These days, the people of today... In the old days, if your son ran away to the initiation school, one would have to take a bag of maize and two rands. These days you pay R200, when your son goes to initiation school, if he ran away to initiation school. If he goes per agreement, you pay five pounds (approx. M10), he brings a blanket made out of cow hide, two tins of maize meal (about half a bag) and two heads of cabbage Ė that is these days. When the boys have gone into the mountains, you then take a bag of cabbages and a bag of maize meal to the mountains these days.

This did not happen in the old days.
LT: Precisely.

What do you think brought about these changes?
LT: Ache! I have since realised that it is because of these initiation school committees.

Oh! You have these committees now?
LT: Yes. They are these days, whereas in the old days there were never there.

So, in the old days when someone wanted to take boys for initiation, he could do it without any committee whatsoever.
LT: One would just take a letter to the principal chief to get a stamp and a place for the school.

By the way, your principal chief is the principal chief of Thaba-basiu.
LT: Yes ntate.

Apart from these changes in the initiation schools, what else can you say has changed from the way it used to be?
No response.

Did you use cattle for cultivation when you grew up?
LT: Yes we did. Even now we still use cattle for cultivation.

Your father was also using cattle?
LT: Precisely.
Section 5
So you used cattle for ploughing, sowing and everything else?
LT: Yes. Although when I grew up we used our hands for sowing.

So you never had cow-pulled ploughs for sowing?
LT: No. These things came in when I was already a grown-up.

So when you grew up you used your hands for sowing?
LT: Exactly. It is our sons who now plant in lines.

Ntate. How is your grazing land when you compare now and the old days?
LT: The grazing land has deteriorated due to the fact that we are not allowed to take our livestock to fertile land in the mountains early enough and this has led to the deterioration of our grazing land.

What exactly are you saying? Are you saying there is no control over grazing land in the mountains or what?
LT: What I am saying is that we are only allowed to take our livestock into the mountains until February and we are forced to keep this livestock here at home.

Oh! So you are not allowed to take your livestock into the mountains in October?
LT: Yes, and our livestock are forced to graze here, around home where there is nothing to graze on.

What steps are you taking to tackle this problem or have you given up?
LT: Oh well, we have given up, because when we approach our principal chief he tells us to go to the foothills and the foothills are surrounded by peopleís fields and it is not easy to have our livestock grazing there. When we try to go into the mountains our livestock are impounded. If only he would allow us to go into the mountains in October, our grazing land would still be fine.

So what problems are you facing due to the termination of this grazing land?
LT: There is too much soil erosion which leads to dongas (gullies). It is very bad.

Could we just talk about the good old days? What used to happen in this village? Arenít there a lot of things that have changed from the time when you were still a young boy and now?
LT: OK! There are a lot of things which have changed. When I was still growing up, I never knew people to take their infants to the clinic.

LT: I also never knew pregnant women having to go to the clinic. Even these modernised women are now going to the family planning. These are the changes I have observed.

How were pregnant women treated in the old days and what did you do with the newly born babies?
LT: In Sesotho, a pregnant woman would be given pitsa (?) by old ladies, now those modernised ones, once she is about three months pregnant and the tummy is beginning to show, she goes to the clinic.
Section 6
What did Basotho do when there was a newly born baby in the family?
LT: A newly born baby? Women used to ululate.

Wasnít there something done to the baby to protect it from illnesses?
LT: There was something done to protect the baby from witchcraft. There were some traditional medicines either from the old woman in the family or the big man/father of the family.

What exactly used to be done? That is what I want to hear or is it a secret?
LT: We used to protect the family against the evil forces by lo faka (spraying around the homestead with medicated water to drive away evil forces).

So these days those things are not done anymore?
LT: Yes. Some people have stopped but I am still doing it.

And your children grew up without any complications?
LT: Yes. They do not have any complications whatsoever.

How old is your youngest child?
LT: She is this tall [showing with his hands]. I think she is twelve.

Does she go to school?
LT: Yes. She is a girl.

I see. Who looks after your livestock, is it your sons?
LT: My livestock? I live by employing herdboys.

I see. Ntate Tsapane coming to this issue that you are going to be moved from here, could you tell me your opinion about this issue and also tell me what you love about this place?
LT: The reasons why I love this place...actually I donít understand what these people are saying when they tell me I have to move because this thing does not register in my mind. This village of mine. In this village I live without any problems. Now when these people move me from here they are taking me to sufferings, that is when I really look at things. When you are moved from your home and taken to another place you will no longer be human because you are used to the life you had at your place of origin, where you lived well. For instance, when I move to the top of that mountain [pointing to a mountain in the distance] what field am I going to cultivate? Whose field? That is why I am saying these people of the project are only forcing us. Especially these people who have signed these agreements, mainly the principal chief, have done nonsense, because the boy, that is, the principle chief of Thaba-Basiu, Kherabene says it is his elders who did these things, he is not to blame.
Section 7
What are these bad things that they have done?
LT: These things of these people of the project, now you, you sometimes take our side, but these project people want us to leave but, as I hear, they are cutting down our house sizes. For instance if you have a big house they build you a smaller house like I am listening to them now.

So where you are being moved to you are not going to be given fields?
LT: Who will give you a field because you left your field where you came from? Nobody will give you a field.

What does Chief Khaobane say about this?
LT: Nothing, what can he do, because he says he has done his part. He says nothing.

How do you think you are going to live in these new places?
LT: I just do not know. I think we are going to live a terrible life where we are going. Because if you want to go to the mountains it is cold. When you try the foothills, there are already lots of people. Where do you get your food? I can see that even their compensation is not satisfactory.

How is the compensation package?
LT: I forget...I really forget, maybe my wife can remind me.

It does not matter, but you are saying it is very unsatisfactory?
LT: Yes because they say that those who are moving to the foothills will get more than those moving to the mountains. That is the thing which causes grievances, in fact major grievances.

The compensation packages are different.
LT: My life is very good. I do not have any problems and I do not see why I should move.

Your livestock is still well?
LT: Yes it is still very well. The only problem is stock theft.

So the rate of crime is high here?
LT: Yes. It is very high here. They just take your animals.

Is it people from around here or do they come from other places?
LT: You never know when people attack where they come from.

How about witchcraft?
LT: Wow! There is a lot of theft here, they really practice this thing.

So it is really bad?
LT: Yes. Even last night there was a child crying. They say that something was dropping children to the floor in the middle of the night.
Section 8
Right here in this village?
LT: Yes. Right in this village. The child says she saw something terrible. Witchcraft exists here.

What other things have happened which you can relate to witchcraft?
LT: My child who passed away died because of witchcraft.

The one you mentioned earlier on.
LT: Yes. They gave him poison.

Crime rate is high on the other hand?
LT: It is very high.

Do you have any problems with water?
LT: No, there is plenty of water here.

So you have powerful wells?
LT: Yes, very powerful.

Do you know the water situation where you are going?
LT: The place I have picked I think they have sufficient water because I am not looking at the foothills, I am looking into the mountains.

How is their grazing land there for your livestock?
LT: It is very nice.

How do you think your relations will be with the people in your new village in comparison with the relations here? In fact let us talk about the relations in this village.
LT: The relations are very good in this village.

What do you think about where you are going?
LT: You see, since I am moving to a place within the same area, I do not think it will be very bad.

What about the issue of you being a chief. What happens to your chieftainship when you move?
LT: When I move, I move with my chieftainship.

Arenít you going to another chiefís jurisdiction?
LT: No, I am moving to my other village.

Does this mean there is no village where you are going?
LT: No, there is a village.

So what about the chief there?
LT: No problem, he is my ďwhistleĒ (a chief under my rule).

So it is still one of your villages?
LT: Yes, ntate.
Section 9
So about things like burial societies, how do people think they will handle such things now they will be moving to different places?
LT: They - um! We have not talked about such issues. But I believe they should be introduced to the burial societies of their new village or be cancelled from these ones here and join new ones in their new villages.

So they are cancelled and given money?
LT: I do not really know. Their burial society will decide on that one.

What other communal things do you think will be affected by these movements, since now people will be going to different places?
LT: Communal things?

That is things you think will be affected due to the fact that people will now be scattered over wide areas.
LT: Yes, since people will be in different places, things will not be easy anymore. When there are deaths it will be problematic to let everybody affected by the deaths to know. These are some of the things that will happen.

So even when there are family occasions it will not be easy to contact all the relatives.
LT: Yes because now the family is spread all over.

What is the arrangement, like in the host villages, for people with livestock? Will they be given space to make kraals (livestock enclosures) where they can keep their livestock?
LT: The project people said they will build kraals for us.

But the project people still agree that these people need kraals.
LT: Yes. Our kraals. They said they will build them for us.

What about the graves. What is going to be done about the graves?
LT: They said they will move the graves.

What is your opinion about moving graves?
LT: When I listen carefully there are cuts also in moving graves.

What kind of cuts?
LT: On what a person has to be paid for moving a grave.

Could you explain that a bit further? Could you explain to me the whole process of moving the graves?
LT: They said they will take the graves of our relatives to the new village that we will be moving to. But people who will be moving to municipal areas should leave their graves behind, because... [interruption, someone wanted to talk to the narrator].
What were we talking about?
Section 10
We were talking about moving graves. You were talking about people who will be moving to municipal areas.
LT: Aha: That is what we were talking about. I was wondering about these people who were asked to leave their parents and children behind, what exactly are these project people saying?

Is that still on the negotiation table or has it gone beyond that stage?
LT: I think they are still talking [about] it, especially those who are moving to Ha Motola.

You were also talking about cuts and I could not really understand how the element of cuts comes in.
LT: It comes from the element of payments.

Is there going to be payments in moving the graves?
LT: Yes. There are some payments and it is theirs alone, and I was amazed thinking how it can be theirs alone - whereas the dead are your relatives.

When you say theirs alone, who are they, I do not quite follow what you are talking about.
LT: These people who are moving us from here. Let me call my wife to explain more.
[When the wife comes the husband tells her what we are talking about].
MT: About graves, they said they would give a person M3000.

When a person leaves a grave behind?
MT: No. When a person moves a grave. On the same issue of graves, a person is given this money to pay for arrangements of reburial. But then, there is no change from this money, because this money is used to buy a cow and other necessary stuff for the occasion. These things are bought by the project people and they keep the change.

So these people are the ones who buy you this stuff?
MT: Yes.

They do not give you money?
MT: You do not even see that money. Again it seems on the issue of the fields, they have shown on paper that in five years they give you M37000, but as we calculate this money per annum and per field, because it is M1080 per metre per annum, we found out that about M53000 goes to the project. So we are saying that we want all our money. Again they say that people who are moving to Mohaleís will get M12000. Those of us who are moving into the mountains will get less. But our point is that we have been affected in a similar manner and therefore we should be compensated in the same manner. Because even if they raise the issue of burial societies in the foothills being different from the ones in the mountains, the reason is that the burial societies in the highlands could not buy things like cents (?), due to lack of roads. But when roads are built we can also be like those in the foothills. That is our concern.
Section 11
It is now clear.
MT: Now they are saying, when we leave here, they will give us M3000 for settlement where we are going Ė and the rest of the money, like the money for the fields, will come later. Now the question is, where will we get the money from if we find that the contractor who owes us money is no longer there? Therefore, we want them to give us everything before we leave this place. We want to leave this place after we have received everything that is due to us.

So there is a problem when you want this money before leaving?
MT: Yes, because now there are orders on paper telling us to move with the settlement money so that when you are given the key to the new house you can settle and buy school uniforms for your children and such things with the M3000.
But when we were at Ha Matala they told us that if we leave in February, in July we will get compensation for our fields. I then asked myself, where will we get that money from. Even the graves, we were to leave them behind and live in our new villages and then later come and take our dead and hold services for them in our new houses. When we leave, we leave all these things behind. Again Mr Lekholoana passed some papers through all the households in August, which said that all new buildings including kraals should be completed by the 31st August.
Then people built these new structures and I built up this shack that you can see here in front of us. He then said that there will be a committee which will come later to take measurements of our buildings. But the people who are supposed to take measurements are now turning around and saying that they are not going to take any measurements because the structures should have been completed earlier. But after the circulation of that paper which said that all structures should be completed by 31st August, people started building new structures. The paper had said that all the structures which were started should be completed but we should not put up new structures. Now they say that they are no longer going to take measurements and we want to see if they will actually do that.

Now what do they say if you had intentions of putting up new structures?
MT: If you have such intentions, they have written us a letter telling us we should stop building after 31st.

The 31st of this month?
MT: No. The 31st of August.

I see.
MT: But on 27th August when we received that letter, we then made plans for new structures like this shack of mine with the aim of completing these structures by the 31st August. But now they are saying that these new structures which we put up after the first measurements had been taken will no longer be considered. But we are just waiting to see how all this will end. Whether they will end up not taking these new measurements. If they will not take these new measurements, we will let you know as well as our own Principal Chiefs that we put up these structures based on the letters we received on 27th August.
Section 12
It is now clear íMíe.
MT: Our main concern again is our compensation money because it is us who needs to be compensated not the project.

So all the compensation should be given to you?
MT: Precisely, all the compensation should be coming to us. I was telling them just now that the bricks they are using to build people new houses is of bad quality which should be used for partitioning indoors. I asked them where the good quality bricks had gone. From Ha Tsui to Ha Koporala it is the same thing, you have used these low quality bricks. These low quality bricks you are using will crack after if there are strong winds and the houses will fall. They said they were going to insulate the bricks using plastic inside the houses so that the houses will be warm. I then asked them why donít you put a warm ceiling instead of this wall that you say you are going to insulate? I am telling this builder from the project that I do not want the type of bricks they are using. It is low quality.

Do you think that they will do that for you?
MT: They wanted to disagree. But I reminded them that they said the choice is ours. Now why do you now refuse the choices we make? Me, I will not let them build me a house with those low quality bricks. I do not know about those who will agree.

Thank you íMe íMatsapane. [The husband comes back]
LT: I would have liked my wife to have made the closing statements with what she just told you.

I see, she actually explained to me about how the project people work and the promises that they are breaking.
LT:That is what I like. Like I told you that she knows better about these things.

On the last note, would you like to tell me about something which made you very happy in your life?
LT: Ntate?

Is there something that happened that made you feel very happy or proud?
LT: He-banna! There are many things which make me happy, most especially if my family have plenty to eat.

You are happy as long as you and your family sleep with full stomachs?
LT: That is right and also when my livestock are well.

Thank you very much ntate Tsapane.
LT: I just wonder how my livestock will be in the new place, because here they are very well and they are reproducing.

So you are wondering how it will be in the new place?
LT: Again you never know the stock theft rate in this new place.
Section 13
Could I ask a question about whether you have heard anything from the people who have been affected in a similar way by the Katse dam? What problems do they encounter?
I hear some things. They are apparently living not so comfortably but that was not what they were promised. They are given rotten maize and rotten fodder for their livestock. That is what I have heard. Here I had said I do not want their food. I am eating very well from what I grew here in this village. They never gave me any food. This thing they want to do is very complicated. Like I have said I do not understand what they are saying when they say I should move.

You really do not understand this?
LT: Yes. I really do not understand what they are saying.
MT: Another point I forgot about the fields is that they did not take their owners along when they were measuring them. The fields were just pointed out to them. Earlier they had gone out to the fields with only one person from the village and had left the owners behind. I then asked why they were leaving the owners of the fields behind. They then told me that they were only testing. But after they had done that they then swapped the fields around. For instance, my field was said to be yours, yourís somebody elseís and so on. But they had come back again and we sat down and they made corrections on their maps. After that they are no longer willing to come back. The people want them to come back, because they say, there is no reason why they should be rushed to move when some things have not been settled.

People want to see when their fields are being measured so that the two parties agree on the measurements.
MT: That is what I am saying. That is our grievance.

What have you heard about the people who have been resettled in the Katse dam?
MT: They are given rotten maize. They are still grieving even now. I meet some of them in the meetings held in Maseru. They are grieving because of the broken promises made by the project. They also say the dam is sometimes opened without their being told and the water kills their livestock as well as the people themselves. This is what they said in one meeting held in Maseru. They added angrily that if the people of the project keep doing that, they will break the walls of the dam. Those people are very sad.

I see.
MT: Now these project people instead of helping these people, they have now come to make us as sad as the Katse people. But they said they had come to console and compensate us because [we/they?] had seen what had happened in Katse. It was ntate Manumo, Putsoane and Lekleleane who were saying these things. But now they are saying we should feel for them since they are very busy moving people. Ntate Tsehle and Shale, when they went to Johannesburg, [said] the project people were saying the people affected by the project were satisfied with the arrangements made.
Section 14
Are there people from your village employed by your project?
MT: They have taken very few because my village has many people. They take some on a part-time basis. Those who are employed are very few and some are being retrenched. Women are not employed at all. There are women from other villages sweeping the roads but not from mine. But we were promised that we would leave this place happy.

I understand what you are saying. Thank you íMíe.
[Back to the husband].

How did your father become the chief of this place? Whose son was he and who gave him this piece of land?
LT: Um! My father, that is my grandfather was from Senqu. When he found this land there was nobody living here. People in the old days used to move around a lot and that is how my grandfather got to this place. When he saw this place, he went to the principal chief of Thaba-Basu to be given that land and the chief gave him this piece of land.

Who was the principal chief then?
LT: Then?

LT: The principal chief of Thaba-Basu?

LT: It was the old Morena Khoabane.

That is how the village came to be Ha Tsapane?
LT: Yes.

Thank you very much Ntate Tsapane.