photo of person from Lesotho the maluti mountains
Lesotho glossary












November 1997



Section 1
I would like to start by asking as to what year you were born in.
[Something is missing here]

Which means that you were born in 1955?
Yes, ntate.

Your children, how many could they be?
My children are six.

If you were to distinguish them, it is how many girls and how many boys?
The boys are two, and four girls.

As for your parents are they still alive?
My parents are no longer alive.

Where did they come from themselves when they ended building in this village?
My mother her home place is there at Sefikeng. As for my father I developed eyes (awareness) when he was already here, but he comes from Mohale’s Hoek, actually.

When you estimate, would you know the reasons which made your father emigrate to this place?
Yes, when it is explained to me. He was brought here by [a need for] eating. He was a person who worked with the soil; now, so that he could find food he came here.

In what year did they die?
It is a little while ago. My father died in 1971. My mother followed and died in 1975.

As for your wife, she is a person of which place?
Of Ha Tsapane.

Is it the case that in your life you are a person who once left here and went to stay in other villages?
Yes, ntate, that is, well jobs like that. I used to leave from here and go to jobs. I was working in the mines until 1978.

The reasons that made you leave the mines?
It was health. I was ill and I was actually not feeling well. I then came back home.
Now, well, I am living on fields. When a person says we should plough, we just continue and I get food.
Section 2
When people say we should plough here, they say you should plough in what manner?
In the manner of halves (sharecropping). And then it would be that I would find [some food].

As for school is it something that you ever attended?
I attended it a little. I left when I was in standard three.

It was when you were attending it where?
I was attending it up there at a place called Bokong.

It was a school of which church?
Of Roman [Catholic Church]. I was attending it, and then it was that I left and I herded; and then I passed on to the mines.

Now, when you left the mines in 1976, why did you choose to come back and come and stay here in the mountains instead of staying in the lowlands?
The truth [is that] I had animals. Now, I wanted pasture. Well, now they are no longer there.

That is, you mean that you had hoped that coming back here would make it possible that you attend to your matter of animals?
Yes, ntate. Just like I liked them and kept collecting them.

That is, just tell me as to in your growing up, when you were growing up, as to a person when he was ill, that is the cure that he could find quickly was of what kind?
It was the one of finding medicines, of going to the doctors.

In fact I am interested as to now, that you were right inside the mountains like this, to the doctors, if you can explain to me whether these doctors were Sesotho [ones] or European [ones]?
European ones, well even Sesotho ones we still went to them. But the European ones were difficult to go [to]. You were loaded on a horse because there were no roads. We went to the hospitals in places like Maseru, and Roma and even in Mantonyane in there. This same, me, I once went in there in Mantonyane in there, I went to the doctor there.

When I think about these hospitals and European doctors, you will find that it is money that is used for paying. As for you, the means of [getting] money was in what way?
Money, we get it. When we have sheep we shear sheep and goats, we get money. Even these little tricks of ours which we keep doing for food, we sell we get money. That is the thing that I would say helps us, when we live here at home.

Your children are at school? Do they attend school?
My two children were attending school, but it is hard and they have not gone to school this year.
Section 3
It is what difficulties?
It is the difficulties of school fees. I still wish them to go to school. But truly I do not have anything at the moment.

But how do you expect to solve that problem?
That they should go back to school?

Truly even now I am still touting a calf of mine [to see] if I can find a person who can buy it. Even me, if I were to find a little job of some kind, so that they can go back to school.

She was attending school where?
At Ha Jeremane/Jesemane.

If I wish to know, can you remember as to in what year you married?
In 1972.

When you married, you married a marriage of what kind, that is the European...?
Sesotho one.

Is it the case that there are still there marriages of that kind?
Sesotho ones, they are there.

Can you tell me whether they are still there in what way?
A young man will talk with his girl...well they do not have a [white] wedding. He will go home and say that he has been attracted to a girl there. They will elope; they will not have a [white] wedding.

Bridewealth is still paid?
Yes, ntate, indeed as for them they are still paid, in fact it is a law.

Can you tell me, in the mountains here, from when you were growing up, when you were still a young man, what you used to entertain yourselves with? Because it is not the case that all this time you are at work, there is a time for entertaining oneself, on certain days. Or on days when people were happy in the village here, can you tell me as to during those times of old in the village here, people entertained themselves by doing what?
As for me the thing that I entertained myself with was going to football, I would just play football, from there I just go to the grazing areas.

Grazing areas? Was it a way of entertaining yourself?
Section 4
When I hear that earlier you would hear it being said that ladies, they will run lesokoana (game based around a stirring stick), the men it is being gone to hunt, you are telling me that those kind of games-
Ach, hunting, as for it, I never hunt. I would just go for football only.

But when you examine [things] closely, your enjoyment of that time when you were growing up, when you compare it with that of your children right now, would you say that the way in which you entertain yourselves is still in a similar way?
It is not the same. Completely it is not the same as that of that time which has passed.

The difference especially you see it being where?
The difference these people of today, truly when you say they enjoy themselves, they hopscotch there, they are already drinking beer, now ache it is not a thing... They drink [imported] beer there. As for me, truly, beer is not a thing that I once drank. I just drink Sesotho beer. Well, not that I should go and fetch it there, far away there.

Now, when you tell me that herding... when you were a herder you were satisfied. I do not understand as to what it was that satisfied you that much at the grazing areas. That is, if you were to explain to me as to...
I liked animals. I felt that I liked them.

Which means that you must be a person who likes the mountain area with all your heart.
Yes, I like it ntate. Well, not other places. If I leave from this area, there is no other place that I like; all these streams I know them; ache there is not one that I like.

Have you gone back to the lowlands right now?
Yes, right now I am in the lowlands.

That is, you mean that you already have a house that has been built for [you], or you mean the area where the Project will emigrate you to?
Truly I have not been built for, but we just went to be shown the sites. We have not yet been built for. I think we still have to go.

They estimate that you will go when?
They estimate that we shall go next month.

Would you be going for good?
Yes, ntate.

I mean emigrating?
My emigration.

How is the theft here of animals?
Theft here has finished us in this area, we have nothing left.

When I have heard, like at Ha Makotoko here where you are saying you are going, it is a very serious [problem] even there, what would say about that matter?
Theft is very serious, even now it is very serious, but I am no longer interested in animals that much. What I now have in mind is if God can help me sell these few animals of mine and find that I have some money, I will be able to buy something like a tractor; that is the thing that I can live on.
Section 5
I heard, like when we started, you explained that you are a village headman.
No, I am not a village headman.

These places in one side is it not Ha Moubane? Or is it just a name to be common, that of Moubane?
It is a name to be common, it is common. That same one of my brothers. My brothers, they are here, even their children. But the surname, as for it, it is one.

Among the chiefs that you have known, those who have been there, which one ruled in a way that you would say he satisfied the needs of the people?
This one who rules now is the child of his (the previous chief’s) younger brother.

Now, what would say about the chieftainship of this area here, that is what are your feelings about the chieftainship that has always ruled you in this area?
What would I say in what kind of way, ntate? Please explain.

That is I want to know as to whether they are people who have always ruled in accordance with the needs of you as the people.
Ntate Mapheelle ruled well here, even though he left us in the way of the matters of God; actually there was no person who could rule like him.

Yes, now you are saying that, as for him, he ruled well. Problems with these other ones you realise them as being where? When you compare them with him?
Yes, this one is still ruling in accordance with the times of ruling of today. But this rule of today, I see that it is no longer the same as that one, because sometimes you will find that he oppresses you with even opening the book of [the Laws of] Lerotholi. But you will find that you have already fallen outside the laws of Lerotholi, without him reading from the book; without having used it.

In connection with when you compare what chiefs do to you, that the work of the chief among the people, and politicians, looking especially at development of the nation, what would you say about that point?
As for in this place, politics I do not see their work. As for here I do not see anything of work or development which they can say we have done in such and such an area, or we left one place having done such and such development, ache, truly I would be binding them. Here [on that issue] it would be that I am giving them power. I can see that they are not doing anything just like in other places. There is somewhere where a hand is given, to make a certain development. Here it has not yet been done, up to now when I am talking to you.

The development that you are talking about is of what kind?
There are developments, people were having springs made for them, even things like roads and so on and so forth. They were being given small plots, and they grew some vegetables, and they would sell and eat. But as for us, unless you plant a tree of your own, even this road of ours, of animals, it has not been attended to unless we owners of animals we make our own animals walk on the mountainside like there; we will make a road for ourselves on our own.
Section 6
Meaning that as you point out that agriculture is the first thing in this place of yours, the way of life was showing itself to be especially in agriculture, because we talked about ploughing. Now I would like to request a clarification as to in these crops that you plant, which are the ones that make you live, can you specify them?
Here in this place, maize helps us. It is a general crop. In fact it does not help only us, it also helps people from other places. It is only this year when it looks like we have a problem.

The reason being what?
The worms have eaten it. There is nothing. It is my first time to see a year like this.

Other than maize the others that you can talk about which are they?
It is cannabis, cannabis ntate. It also helps us to make ourselves live.

What about in animals, other than a way of shearing them, sheep and goats.
We sell them. If I find that I have problems, I sell a sheep, I sell a goat; that is our life here, of shearing animals.

Can we go back there, I just wanted to know as to what made you have the idea to go to the mines, what was the reason? Because as we were talking, you pointed out that agriculture is a thing which was always good in this area. Yes, now I want to know as to what influenced you, that you found yourself ending up working in the mines, what were the reasons?
The reasons were that I wanted to provide for myself, on my own. I should work for myself and I should not expect my parents [to provide for me]; so that I should be able to say: “this cow is mine, which I have bought for myself”. I should not expect that a parent should set one aside for me. If you are not hired, and it happens that you’re herding your father’s [cattle], he will set one aside for you once a year, and that would be the end and you would not have any [more] set aside for you. You will have to wait for that one to calf. Now a cow is something that takes a long time to calf. Now when I work for myself, perhaps in a year I find that I can buy two cows; I find that I have five sheep. With money I am even able to help in the family, if I am working.

If you can just explain to me, I want clarification as to whether in this place of yours, whether when you have dead relatives, whether you take them to the mortuary in town?
A dead person, if he died here, he would be buried while he is still here; he is not taken to the mortuary altogether. They will just notify his relatives, those who are far away only.
Section 7
I wanted to know, now that it seems that the Project is making you emigrate, I want to hear whether like a person of agriculture, you said you have chosen the place of Ha Makotoko. The real important reasons which we can say were influencing you to choose that place, which are they?
As for me, that place I chose it because I saw it had fields, and when I get into that village, I will even ask that I plough because there are still fields in there in the plateau. I will just ask the chief to allocate me [some land], so that I can plough, so that we can eat with ’Matiu (?). I will not just sit without eating with my children there in that place. Even now, even before I go there, I am already eating [food] from there.

It is a place that you are already familiar with?
I already know it.

How did you know [it], when I hear that you grew up here, you lived here for a long time?
I grew up here. Well, in truth, my relatives are still there in those places which are there.

Which means that as for you, in short, it is the same as going back home?
It is the same as going back home, ntate. Well, I am not going to their homes.

Which means that as for you, now that you are going back to Ha Makotoko, you are going back to a place where you do not fear difficulties; that you are going to arrive at a new place where it is that there is no person who does not know you at all?
No, ntate, truly it is that I do not fear that much. When I get there, I will just say, “Child, run and go there to that home and tell them to give me wood so I can make a fire”.

I understand truly. It is because I am asking like this, I wanted to hear as to your feelings in connection with moving away from here, where you live...
In this place I did not have feelings of moving away altogether. I was used to it. I had acquired wisdoms for it as to I will find to eat, what and how am I making the children live.

Now, do you not see like it will come and debilitate you a lot in the pocket and in the life that you are now used to, because now there you are going to be faced with the matter of planting maize only. You will find that maybe ways of [planting] cannabis, which is one of your tricks here, are not there?
It will debilitate me a lot. But now there is no chance, because there is no other place higher than the mountains here, which I can choose other than that one. There is no other that I can be happy with.

I feel that I am asking myself as to now, that you are going away from this place which you had developed tricks for, and you are going to a new place even though you already have your relatives there, whether you as an elderly person, perhaps difficulties are not going to be there of getting used to a new place. I am asking myself as to what about the other [members] of your family?
As for my children, truly I tried to talk a lot about this matter [with them], I actually wanted to hear a say from their side and I heard that they are actually not satisfied with those other places.
Section 8
That is, it is not just a thing which you forced and said, “Go that way”?
And I was even pointing out to them that they can go inside of town, but I heard that they were not satisfied, and they said they wanted a place that I choose, if it is agreeable with that same one.

In this place of yours were there no associations, like the ones of bury-me -shilling?
We have them, as for me I even have them associations of bury-me-shilling.

What is their fate now that you are separating?
The truth [is] we are separating. But well, we are not separating in a bad way, because you will find that people where I have built, some of them, I leave from here with them. And well, even my little friends down there [who] will remain here, and it will happen that when we are together and then we will discuss in a way that we will discuss; as for our aim we shall not lose it. The moneys of the association, we shall continue to receive them in a similar manner, and if it is found out that there is bereavement which has occurred, when they bring a message there we will immediately pass on and put money in there; well some of it we will save it. We keep fetching it from there. Well, in the manner in which we have discussed it, it is still alright.

Well we are now ending. I want to hear as to what your feelings are in connection with the compensation that you have been promised.
This compensation that we have been promised, as for me truly it has not satisfied me, I see that it is too little for me.

Especially when you point at which issues?
Especially when I point at issues of agriculture. It is too little for me, because I will no longer find a field which is similar to that one which I am ploughing. Altogether I will no longer find it there where I am going. Now truly I see that it (compensation) is little for me. My ploughing there will be when I plough in halves with person or I should hire (rent a field), not that I shall be able to say I have a field which is mine.

It is because I heard, like you said, that as for you, you are already eating [food] from there right now.
Yes. It is halves; I am not ploughing alone.

Which means that the real argument where the contention is especially, when you explain, it is the issue of fields? To have a field which is yours?
Now that money does not satisfy me. It is true. Well, I will accept it. But as for my children, as for them, I have found out that they have been destroyed, a lot. But because they have seen that they have been eaten (cheated), they will actually see as to what they can do [to secure their futures]. They will work, but if they are not going to [get] work, there will be problems.
Section 9
That is when you say they have been killed, you mean that they... are you not explaining?
They have been destroyed because that compensation is little. The children of my children will arrive (be born) when it is already finished. Even these ones of mine, when they grow up, it will already be finished. From now on, some of them will not find [a means of] learning, judging by the amount of money that is paid at schools here.

Well, it is a problem, truly. As for your wife, is she still alive?
Yes, she is still alive, but well there is a little work that they are doing.

Ach, even though it is like that, with this little time of ours, we have tried to summarise them (issues), because the meaning, is to find your story in this village, the way in which you lived, and also whether, where you are going, the opportunities for a livelihood, whether they are there or somehow. And also to hear as for you, you are intending to do what when you get there to try and find a means of living?
Ach, I only see that it is just this one; as for the other one I do not see it.

Ach, even though it is like that I am very thankful for your time, because in fact the most important thing is to make for the little ones, because they do not know as to what is happening at the moment. They will hear through books when they read books; they will now hear that one day, ntate Laurent, meaning my father, was talking with ntate Letsoela from an independent organisation when he was taking his words during the last days before they emigrated. I thank you.