photo of person from Lesotho the maluti mountains
Lesotho glossary












October 1997



Section 1
My name is Maliantle Moshabesha, I live in Moeija. And what is your name?
My name is Ntate Tekenyane Moubane.

Moubane, thank you, Ntate, what year were you born?
I was born in the year 1923.

Yes, Ntate, where were you born?
I was born here, but my place of birth is my motherís home. Mainly because somebodyís birth place is mainly his motherís home.

I understand. Still it does not matter, where at your motherís home?
I was born at Pitsaneng at Chief Moshatiís place.

This tells me that mostly firstborns are born at their motherís home. Does it mean that you are first in your family?

Thank you Ntate, what is your seboko (clan name/totem)?
I am a Mokhata.

Can you relate the history of your clan (ho thella)?
Ke thelle joang ke le mokhata
Ke le moths oa mamkoale Mokhachane
Ke lilimo la Rakotoom
Mothoo oa mosoangsoanyane, oa bo mokhithi le mokheti

Tlele! Thank you. Can you tell me about your youth age, where did you grow up?
I grew up in Molika-liko.

Did you ever go to school?
I went to school and learned sub ďAĒ.

Where did you school?

Were you not able to go further?
I was not able because I was a herd boy, tending my familyís livestock.
Section 2
Thank you, Ntate, where is your wife?
My wife is still here.

How many children do you have?
I was given ten children.

Are they still here, all of them?
Those who are here are eight.

Do they have their own families now, or are they still living with you?
Seven of them have their own families, the eighth one is still with us.

How old is he?
He is 33 years and I live with him and his siblings.

Ntate Tekeyane, can you tell me about the period when you were growing up during your boyhood days, when you were a herd boy?
During my days as a herd boy, I was herding my fatherís livestock during his days. He used to slaughter, and I would get meat and be satisfied. I think once a month I would get sheep meat and yearly I got beef and also eggs. Once a day we used to get about six eggs. Also there was milk from cows, which we consumed in the morning. There were wild vegetables like sepaile, qhela, bobatsi and others, and potatoes, beans, hensisi and maize. In autumn we used to get hehooetla (fresh maize), which we never purchased.

Does it mean that there were good harvests?
Yes, harvest was very good.
What brought about a good harvest?
The rains used to be good. Agriculture was also good. Livestock never used to graze here, they were sent to cattle posts.

When did you have a cattle post?
My cattle post was at Patisi, which is in Thaba Basin area or another cattle post at Mohlesi, which is still at Thaba basin, which is called Tomka Molepa.

Can you remember when were you initiated?
Yes, I can still remember my initiation.

How old were you?
I forgot how old I was.

Who was your mosuoe (teacher) or instructor?
His name was Mothoeba Kabi.

Can you still remember initiation songs of those days?
I have forgotten them.
Section 3
But you still remember to recite lithoko (praise poems). Can you say them for me?
Ke ne ku le lefoka, theka lefoka a re le mosheli thebe
Le moshelie toinyane ea phoba
I now forget how it went on further.

Well, it does not matter, ntate Tekenyana after that you had a wife, when did you marry?
I married Senqunyane ha Thaba boiru, at Cheif Monjane.

Why did you marry that far? Does it mean that there were no girls here? And how did you meet her?
I saw this girl when I was at school there, and she had also visited her aunt there. It was then I saw this girl and I did not forget her. I was very much impressed by her.

Did you ever recite any songs of praise for her?
Monongoaha ho lipoli li Khahloe
Likhaluoe ke ngoannanyana
Nthoana mohimo e khopo hi peli
Ke masapo a mane theking
Ke sekhoane le mgoanabo Mahunga

It used to be happy during those days, and what is the difference nowadays.
There is a difference these days. Laws have expanded. Boys used to have respect for elders. Our children donít have that kind of respect. They just stand there with girls without any respect for elders and this is very surprising.

This is a problem, what can be done?
The law can help us in this respect, because we are now law-abiding people.

I understand, the law can help us in this case. During your days was there ever any drought?
Yes, there was drought, but it never used to affect us that much. Our parents had friendships with white people and they used to exchange food with wool or mohair from livestock, until the following year when they could get seeds and plough. And this was done during drought and the exchange was done with shopkeepers.

What did the Basotho do to bring about rains?
Basotho used to do molitsoane (games or hunting done to bring rain, menís activity). People would go to the top of the mountain singing mokorotlo (war songs) and women would be lilietsa (ululating), others would be dancing and saying praises and by the time we came back home it would be raining. This was a way of praying for rain.

Have all these traditions gone?
Yes, we try all means. We once went up the local cliff. We had the clergy or reverend with us, and it rained a little and this proves that things have changed.
Section 4
Where do we go wrong?
I think we have wronged our God somewhere, through our deeds on earth, because we do too many wrong things. We are jealous of one another. We donít love each other any more. Also there is [no] more respect. Before, any parent would scold any child in the village if they see them doing wrong. These days we hate each other and one cannot do that. We attack each other during the night. I think this is what is causing the rains to stop. Our daughters strangle babies, others throw them in the rivers, still others throw them in the toilets. Therefore God is angry.

Ntate Tekenyane, have you ever worked in your life?
I have worked in the mines.

How did it come about that you went to the mines?
After I married, I realised that I have made matters difficult for my parents in that they would clothe me as well as my wife. I asked permission from my father and acquired a letter from the chief. It was Chief Makhobalo Theko. I then went to Maseru to join. I worked at State mine no4 in Welkom. I have worked in many mines including coal mines and gold mines until I come back home to stay.

Were you by yourself or were there others there?
I was with my younger brother, the son of my uncle, his name is Tanki, and I went with him to the mines.

Was the village still this big?
The village was smaller, and he was living at Matebeleng with his parents next to that mountain called Khatleng or Mpharome where we also used to live. Here we immigrated during the period when villages were brought together.

What happened at that time?
When the villages were brought together, it was an issue which was discussed between chiefs. They argued that they are not able to get messages well, or they are not able to catch criminals easily. During that time there used to be two or three houses in a village and we were brought together in that way. We were still under this chief at the time. At the time when we came here the chief was Maphulle Tsapane. Chief Tsapane was already late.

How was crime?
It was still there but hidden because it was done by chiefs with the aim of ho raola (to gain power). But it was not common.

Can you remember any particular occasion?
There are people who vanished without explanation or good reason. I remember one old man called Tlhappi who vanished without explanation.

Do you like this place?
Very much. I like to have good agriculture. I donít need to purchase meals meal. Even now I donít buy ho seal (mealy meal). I plough three fields. Last year I had three bales of harvest, this was maize only. This year I have two bales and four bags. I have eleven cattle and they are still here at home and during this very month they will go to the cattle post immediately after ploughing. I have very few of the short legged livestock. They are just enough to be slaughtered for some of my special occasions.
Section 5
How did you handle your ploughing?
During our days when I was a boy, we used to plant with our hands. But these days we use ploughs for planting. Even though there are fewer oxen to use because most have died because of poor pastures. There is also a lot of stock theft. They take livestock from kraals (livestock enclosures). This is the main problem in this area.

What action have you taken?
There are some who are in stock theft hunting and others get help from the police. And sometimes we are lucky and recover some of the stolen livestock.

Were there ever any wild animals here?
Yes. Springboks and rabbits used to be there. But springboks have become fewer because even at the cattle posts where there used to be good grass, it is no more, because of too many cattle posts.

Were there ever any dangerous wild animals?
There was nkoe (leopard), thoane (large wild cat). In the river there were river snakes which would take the shape of a goat. And we were told never to get near a goat which was very close to the river, because this goat was a crocodile. There was also quibi (otter). They are still here and also lakabane (iguana).

Are there still any herbs around here?
Yes, others are still here, others are no more. lesoko, khapumpu, sesepa-sa-linoha, are still here. Maine manolo, we donít see anymore

Was there ever any time when you enjoyed yourself a lot here?
I think that the most enjoyable thing about this place is that it is restful and peaceful but now that is all gone.

What was the situation with neighbouring villages?
We never had any problems with neighbouring villages. We used to share pastures nicely with our neighbours. We used to graze our livestock that side of the river sometimes and they would also come to our side of the river if there was a need. But now it is no more because of divisions of chiefs. That side is Matring and this side is Ha Theko. One is allowed to send only four or five oxen that side if they are going to be used for ploughing.

What changes do you think this Highlands issue is bringing?
I think this is bringing us problems. Our life is going to change and we donít know what is going to happen to us in the new life. We are in a difficult situation. I am going to settle at Nazareta. I will not be able to plough my own fields because the population has increased and the only way is to sharecrop because even those people have difficulty in ploughing their fields. The population has increased but the land has not increased. Now that the project is resettling me, without making argument, because this has been accepted and argued by the chiefs who are the owners of the land. The project should take me and transfer me there under the conditions we have agreed upon and also on what they have promised me. The project has promised to build a house for me and also give me some cash for my livelihood as a payment for what I will leave behind.
Section 6
Do you think this will happen?
I donít believe so. I still have suspicion. They might happen or they might not happen. That is why I cry for myself ďKe utloa ke itelelaĒ. I donít understand, I donít believe, it is a difficult issue. I am just expecting whatever happens will happen. I will probably buy fields or a field if there are any that are available. There is nobody who has moved from here yet. I am still in the dark about this.

What is your main fear?
My main fear is that I donít know how Iím going to survive and with what. Because once they take my livestock, once I take them there, I will be taking them to lira (rivals). Once they are there, I will put them in the place which would be there and they will be all gone the following day and I will be left with nothing. This is my main problem. I will then have nothing to help myself with. I will not be able to buy anything for my family. I will have nothing for clothing, nothing for medical services, and that means there will be nothing for my children to eat.
Have there ever been any village fights?
The only fights I remember occurred a long time ago. I was still a young boy. There was a fight then once, during Chief Koporales time and Chief Tsapane, and they were fighting over this area. They were fighting over boundaries along the river. It was at a mountain called Kheele. The fight was over that mountain. Men shot each other, men like Molubeli. The fight was resolved by Principal chief of Marbeing, and principal chief of Ha Theko.

Did you ever go hunting?
Yes, there were those who went for hunting and others did not. There are those who hunt likoekoe (wild birds), others went for likhoale (rats), in winter rat hunting is very popular. Sometimes one kills up to 100 of these rats, and this means a lot of meat. And this will be done very nicely and is as delicious as pig and I still enjoy it even at present. I will not stop eating rat meat at all. I enjoy khoana (field mice) a lot.

Did you grow sorghum here?
No we donít. It does not grow well here. We grow wheat a lot here. We exchange wheat or peas for sorghum with people in the lowlands so that we can brew beer for our feasts. Feasts like ancestral feasts, marriage feasts, or for weddings we do matsema (communal labour). We still do matsema here in my village even though some people need [to work] other peopleís fields for cash. A field owner who does not brew beer for a letsema will get people who go there to play and not work, but once there is beer, one can see progress within a short time, and people can work up to late in the afternoon, since they will be happy and dancing and singing.
Section 7
How were your travels in the early days? How did you come home from the mines?
From T.Y. I would walk with all my luggage and spend a night at Mosiuoa and I would be here at home the following day. If I was coming from Maseru, I spent the first night at Ha Nti, the second night I would spend at Thaba Putoa, the third day I would arrive home. I used to come home after nine or twelve months depending on the contract I had signed.

To go back a little, are you the only one going to Nazaretha?
We are going to be seven people from here who are going to settle there, and I also hear that others who are more than us in number are going to settle at Makotoko. I know one man who is going to Ha Mpiti, others are going to Ha Matala. I think we shall still have good neighbourly relations when we get there. We shall still share problems together. Also we shall make new friends with people who live there. It is still a difficult situation but since it has been done by the chiefs, the government and the project, there is nothing I can do about it. I gave up a long time ago so I have to follow everything, even where I am going, I am to be under a chief.

When you are at Nazaretha, is there anything that you miss about this place?
There are certain things that I shall miss. I will miss wild vegetables, which I get free. I will miss potatoes, which I had free. I will miss beans, maize, cow milk, which is also free. All these I will miss at Nazaretha. I will also miss free firewood. I have made coal with cow dung. I will miss these chickens, you can see them. I will miss my livestock kraal, my rondavel (round thatched house), my flat house, the chicken house where I protect my chicken, I will miss all these.

What about the surroundings, what will you miss?
There are a lot of things which I will miss: crops and the cannabis we are able to sell so as to send the children to school.

At present, where is your cattle post?
My cattle post is at Ha Nepa, at Moshesi which is at Thikos area next to Moshesi mountain. Others have their cattle post at Tlokola.

What has LHDA said about your cattle posts?
We shall still use those cattle posts without any problem.

What is the name of the village just across the river?
It is called Mokoru, and people from there will be settles at Koporale.

Are there still some herbs you are using at present?
Yes, I still use lesoko, sesepa-sa-linoha, also for cleansing.