photo of person from Lesotho the maluti mountains
Lesotho glossary










Ha ’Mamokoluoa


February 1998



Section 1
I am Malintle Moshabesha, I come from Morija and I have visited you so that we can have a talk about your life here in this environment and the village in which you have built. By the way what is the name of this village?
It is called Ha ’Mamokoluoa.

Like I said before, I came here to find out about your life here at Ha ’Mamokoluoa. Madam, what is your name?
I am ’Mampaleng.

You are ’Mampaleng who?
I am ’Mampaleng Rampaleng.

’M’e ’Mampaleng do you still remember how old you are?
I am 78 this year.

Where were you born ’M’e ’Mampaleng?
At Ha Mohase Posholi.

How did you find yourself staying here? How did it come that you built here? I no longer remember, it is a long time ago.

But where did you come from to come and build here?
I came from Ha Tsapane which is where I was married.

You mean, you were married at Ha Tsapane?
I got married at Ha Tsapane but my in-laws home is here.

Why did you choose to build here?
I liked this place, it is the place I have long loved and I still like the place even now.

What is it that really attracted you to this place?
Grazing land, firewood that we used to gather, we used to live happily and peacefully up to date.
Section 2
Don't you run short of firewood?

Is your grazing land still sufficient for your livestock?
Painfully (meaning it is abandoned)

Do you still have some livestock.
Yes, I still have some but not many.

Now, where is ntate (husband)
He died a long time ago.

You mean many years ago? Are you now living with only your children?

How many children do you have?
They are many. They are eight.

Are all of them still alive?
Eh, many of them are gone (dead), I am left with only three.

With how many are you staying here in this homestead?
I am staying with one, who is the owner of this house in which I am staying. I am also staying with grandchildren and the great grandchild.

Is the owner of this house your son?

Has he built at his home or it is his site?
It is his site.

Where was your home by the way?
It is over there, at those houses ahead of us.

Now, who is staying there, at your home?
I am, I only came here because my daughter in-law has just passed away. This is the second month - we have not yet cut the mourning cloth, that is why I am staying here.

Sad news really, how many grandchildren do you have? I mean how many children did she have?
They are many also, they are nine.

What is it that their father is doing now?
He is at work.
Section 3
Where is he working?
He is working at the back.

Do you mean mines?

Okay, I understand, by the way where did you say is your home, I mean where were you born?
I said I was born at Ha Mohale.

Can you still remember where you attended school?
Oh, we went to school when there were no sponsorships and I went up to standard three, the old one.

Why did you go only up to standard three?
We did not care much about being educated. We were just interested in knowing how to read and write so that we could write to our natal homes after being married.

You mean you were satisfied as long as you knew how to write your names and letters?

Then, what did you do after you did standard three?
I stayed at home and eventually got married.

Can you remember at what age did you get married?
I was eighteen years old.

Do you still remember how you met your husband?
So that we got married?

His home is near my home and we went to the same school.

Did you know each other while you were at school?

Which school did you attend?

Oh, the school is called Polokong?
Yes, it is the same school to which my grandchildren are going. It is the foundation of the present school.

Can you remember the name of your teacher?
The one we started with?
Section 4
He was Paulusi Nqeku.

Where was his home?
I can’t lie to you, I did not know where our teacher came from.

But, did he stay at this village?
He stayed at the school compound.

Was he the only teacher?
He was only one, we did not have more than one teacher at our time. This thing of having many teachers in one school is a new thing.

I understand schools, used to have only one teacher each, but now I want us to talk about how you got married. Did you have an affair with your husband before you married?
Yes, we did, but we used to be good girls and boys. We knew nothing about ourselves.

Now, tell me, how did it come that you become married at Ha Tsapane? How did you know that your then boyfriend wanted to marry you?
We talked about getting married and we agreed, then I got married. I did not elope, I was married properly.

I understand you were properly married, how did you know that your boyfriend wanted to marry you?
I got engaged, lobola was paid in form of cattle hoa hlabisoa hohali (a feast was made at my home to indicate appreciation of lobola cattle). Thereafter I had to go to my boyfriend's home, that is how I got married.

Where did your wedding take place?
At my home. It was held at my home.

At the church, you mean?

Okay, your wedding was held at the church?
Yes, a white wedding held at the church. I wore a white wedding gown.

How was it on that day? Can you tell me how you felt?
It was beautiful and joyous.

I see, how many of your children married in the same way you did?
Only two.
Section 5
Where did their wedding take place?
Actually only one girl wedded and a boy. The others eloped.

I see, it seems children of today are not like those of your days?
None of them respect elderly people. Their life is far different from ours. They do not even try to resemble our lifestyle. Anyway, maybe generations differ because even our parents used to complain that our lifestyle did not resemble theirs.

What do you think is the cause of these differences?

How can that be?
It is this education of yours. These children read books which tell everything about the human body, when they reach standard seven, you also tell these kids that if they do not do this [demonstrating with hands] at this age they will be crippled. As for us we did not know that people can be crippled because of not doing a certain act. This education of yours has spoiled our children.

So tell me, madam what is it that can be done so that these kids can behave well?
I don't know, I cannot find the solution because today's education gives many unknown advices to the children. It also tells us to have two children, claiming that we cannot afford to raise more than two children. Though we are told this, the government does not assure us that these two children will live longer. It is well known that God will always take his and with whom will you be left with if he takes the only two children you have. Our parents brought us up as many as we were, but God took others and eight were left, four boys and girls. Others are now dying as old as I am and we did not know that it is difficult to bring up children. We used to feed them wild vegetables planted pumpkin and we used to cook steamed bread for them. They used to eat the streamed bread with sour porridge and sometimes sour and fresh milk if one had cattle to milk.

But now the livestock from which they got milk is no longer there, so what would feed your children these days?
You are right, they are gone. We no longer have them.

Now, how will they grow up.
I don't know, but I still believe they would still grow up well even though today's children cannot eat papa with sour porridge. Even the shepherds refuse to take this kind of food. Things have changed.

I understand, what kind of vegetables did you use to gather at your time?
Liruoe, sepaile, qhela (Sesotho wild vegetables). We did not have these English/ European vegetables. We did not know cabbage.

Are the wild vegetables still easily found?
Yes, they are still there, but these children refuse to eat them. To eat they go for nowadays vegetables.
Section 6
Children have changed?
Very much, both boys and girls learn marriage obligations out of wedlock. From the dongas (gullies) come children whose fathers are sometimes not even known. These are the things we did not know. We only knew that a person would have children in marriage.

Now, what about today's children?
They make children in dongas, the fathers are unknown and they hide. If you happen to know him he denies everything when asked.

Do the girls refuse to tell the fathers of their children?
If she says so and so, that so and so denies and claims he doesn't know. Everything is spoiled nowadays.

What do you think can be done to solve this problem?
We don't know, it is happening and is still to happen. These kids like to go out. They don't even care if they are late or not. In those old days a child could not go to play without the parent knowing when she would be back. We used to return home when cattle come home from velds and prepare super. But now these children don't care, you have to cook yourself to eat otherwise you cannot eat.

What happens when you talk to them, telling them what is good and bad?
It has failed, the education they go for has taught them everything about the history of a human's life. They even tell us things we don't know. So we cannot correct them.

Do you think initiation school has a difference among today's children?
I did not go to the initiation school myself but I can see and hear that children who went to the mountain school (initiation school) were moulded and made important people of the future. But it is no longer the same because now new graduates commit crimes even before they remove the red orche.

Is this initiation of this moment….?
It has changed completely. It is no longer an important rite of life. Initiation school is corrupt. I don't know much about it, because I did not go for it but I can see and hear that it is no longer like that of our fathers. In those days a graduate did not attend the initiates' ceremonies until a year after he has graduated. They were called Makoloanyane literally meaning the ones with shaven heads (new graduates). In those old days the initiates were taught many important things. For instance a warrior was brought to teach them how to fight. As for today things have changed. I don't know what is happening. I don't even think that we will be redeemed.

Do you think these children will be important people in future?
I don't think so. They are all the same because you can think that one child will grow up to be an important person but before it they have done something that is bad. During our days we did not have these bad behaviours but today these children take it to be a good thing to do bad things. Nowadays it’s interesting because of this long term education. They are taught bad language, this which they are told to read and understand.
Section 7
Don't you think the syllabus should be changed?
If you read these books, you find them disgusting but these are supposed to be read by children. The writers should write more decent books. They have made God's temple something to play with. They have taught our children bad things and it is claimed that we don't correct our children. These children are taught even things we consider elderly people's secrets. As a result we are not able to tell them what is good and bad because of this education.

You found out that these children know these things?
Yes, they know everything. When you go into the house with his father he knows what you are going to do inside, and he also wants to do that because he has been taught already. They are taught that if they don't do this at this age they will be crippled. They do that in fear of being crippled.

Is it the same with boys as it is with girls?
They are taught everything. They are taught about how they were created by Molimo (God). We were happy that our children were going to have the wise peoples’ education which would help them to work with both their hands and heads. However we have been disillusioned because instead they know things that we did not intend to teach them. Now we are failing to make our children do things we want because of this education.

In this situation, don't you think the church can help?
Ntate, as for that I don't know but I think it has failed because these things are happening at its presence. The church does not allow these things which are done by these children. It does not allow me to have a husband and another man hidden under my armpit (a concubine) who takes the place of the husband in his absence. The church did not allow these things and it doesn't now.

But are you saying teachers and priests should let these children to do these bad things or be out of control?
What I see is that we have given up. One has to do what they think is right.

In this situation what happens when children are born out of such situations?
It is the parent's burden, if the father does not accept. The parent of the expecting mother comes into the difficulty of raising up both the mother-to-be and the child to be born. But if your daughter is married her children are going to be brought up at her marriage. But if she is not married she is your burden and she has increased your burden also.

What happens if a parent is old and tired?
It is a problem, like now I am old and I don't know what I doing. It is an intentionally caused problem. Only if we can put aside these silly books and go back to learning God's news maybe these children would change to better. However, it does not help because these silly books are continuing, they hear for themselves and go on to do these things.
Section 8
You mean they don't only hear but they also fulfil these things?
Yes, they hear and fulfil. They don't only do for themselves, they do that because they are told that if they don't do a certain thing up till a certain age they will be crippled as a result they do these things to avoid being crippled but then they become in trouble.

But why do they have that understanding? You did not become crippled did you why?
We don't know, of course we did not become crippled. We got married not knowing a thing. We only knew that we loved our boyfriends and they loved us and we married. All these other things we learned when we arrived at their homes. But these ones plan their marriages at the dongas because of this education.

This education has spoiled our children, is it?
Yes, I believe so.

It seems there are more problems with children of this kind?
A lot of trouble, all of them are batsoetse (mothers who have just given birth to babies and are suckling them). They are all girls without husbands. When asked they tell you they don't know. It is not what parents like but it happens because of school.

This person who has a child is a school pupil and the male is a school pupil?
Some of them are graduates from the mountain school. They also do these things and deny them afterwards. I don't know if the law is still there because these old men who were initiated no longer correct these graduates.

Yes madam, it is said that you are going to be displaced, where are you intending to go?
We are going down there, isn't it that people were told to go where they want.

To which place are you going?
I am going to Maseru.

At Ha Matala?

Okay, you chose to go to Maseru at Ha Matala why?
I don't know it is just a location we did not have the time to visit and see what kind of location is that?

I thought you were attracted by something there?
No, I just chose the place not because it is beautiful.
Section 9
I thought that Ha Matala is an urban place compared to this place?
Yes, it is a township but we don't know much about the place because we did not grow up there. However, we will go and live there, we are not sure what kind of life we are going to lead but we will see when we arrive there.

But do you think life is going to be difficult for you?
I am not sure, I mean I don't know because we will see when we arrive there. I am not sure whether life there will be good/easy or bad/difficult.

Are you still going to stay with your son?
No, I am going alone, I don't know where he has chosen to go.

You mean, you don't know where he has chosen to go?
Hm, I am going there alone.

With whom are you going to stay there?
I am already staying alone at my home. I said I am staying with him only because he is near me.

I now understand, it is just because he is near you.
I am staying alone at my home, what will be the problem?

I think, the problem is that you are not used to urban life.
It is true, I am not used to that kind of life but I will learn it when I arrive there. If it is tough then I will fail but if it is easy I will manage.

What things do you think you will have to learn concerning the new life style, you are going to lead?
Life there is to find food from the town only. That is the core of township life and if I am full in the stomach, I will be fine especially because I am no longer a person in the move gang from one place to another.

You are saying here your life is fine because you don't have any problem to find food?
Yes, I don't struggle to find food.

What do you eat?
I eat papa-papa. I drink home brewed bear, I take sour porridge and vegetables. I eat everything.

Do you still have Sesotho vegetables (wild vegetables?) Yes, chief, it is the person's life
Section 10
Now, how are you going to get these things there?
I don't know, that's why I said I wouldn't know as long as I am here. I will just arrive at Ha Matala like a spider. I cannot answer that question now. I cannot even prophesise whether life there is good or bad. I will see when I arrive there.

Don't you think there are things you are going to miss about this place?
Ache! A person will always miss a lot of things about their original place, if there is anyone who can say they will not miss a thing in this place that person must be sick. Even a girl who has agreed to marry a boy takes a long time before she gets used to being away from her home. We are going to miss this place. We loved everything about this place. It being bad or good, we are used to it and we will really miss it. However, there is nothing we can do.

What can you say are the bad things in this place, those that do not satisfy you at all?
I was saying, if there is something bad in this place we like it because we have been staying here happily. Here we are staying happily in this small village.

You mean there is no trouble, here? The owners do not fight?
You can ask the chief over there, there are no trials. If a person is accused of something, it can be that his cattle have eaten somebody's crops at the fields. These accusations are done peacefully the owner of the cattle is charged and he pays that is all. It cannot go far than that.

As you grew up did your village fight with its neighbours?
No, during my presence they didn't unless they happened long time ago.

As a female what is your daily routine here?
We do household duties. In times of hoeing we hoe, in times of harvesting we harvest and thresh the grains.

Wasn't there any specific thing you did as women?

What did you do in seasons when there is no field work?
We stayed at home.

Thank you very much ’M’e, I truly thank you for your information, do you have anything to tell me?
I also thank you ntate.

What kind of feasts/ceremonies did you like best in this village?
It is just feast. When a person has cooked food we go there we don't have different feasts.
Section 11
Where do you bury your deceased?
Our graveyard is over there.

Now what is it that is going to happen with graves?
I really don't know, but it happens that a person relocates to a new place and leaves the dead behind.

What were you encouraged to do with them?
Maybe some people will like their dead to be exhumed and relocated.

I think they will be right by doing so.
Yes we believe in ancestors but scientists believe that there are no ancestors.

Are you saying the ancestors exist?
Actually, I know that they exist. You know when I was in standard three a pastor who was our teacher used to tell us that we should be educated when time still allowed. He used to tell us that there would be a time when scientists will take our money from us promising to do things for us. We did not understand him, as a result we used to laugh at him and asked him if those people would steal our money. He said we will give them ourselves. That time has come and I still remember him, I don't even know if he is still alive.

What are the things that people mostly take your money for?
They do many things. I can spend the whole day talking about things they do. Even our children are now spoiled because of this education. We have lost.

Was your teacher not teaching you so that you could be aware of this?
We thought he was [inaudible word(s)] us, only to find out that we will really give away our money thinking we are doing a certain thing.

Are they already cheating you things wise people?
What you are doing is a wise act. You come here to collect some information, which when you disclose down there you become paid. This money goes to your pocket and I gain nothing myself. You can't just leave Morija going to places saying you want the history of those people you are visiting without being paid. After you have collected this history you are paid, but me who has been narrating this history to you is left penniless.

Don't you think it is important for your children?
No, it is important for you not us. My children take this history from me because I sit down with them and tell them this history. Those with heads will always remember what I said. But you are going to bring up your children with this history because you are going to earn something for it, but I will be left here telling other people without earning anything. It is your intelligence that gives you money but I the narrator will not get a thing.
Section 12
Your children are going to read this history. Don't think it is important for them?
Our mothers used to tell us tales. They used to relate these tales when we were seated at the fireplace. They told us things that happened in old ages. We called these stories, tales, and you are calling them history. As for you, you come from far away places, to us to tell you these tales so that you will be paid afterwards and we are left empty handed. The intelligence will eat from our dumb hands, it is happening.