Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Valentines Day in Lesotho (written 2/11/10)

Yes, the Basotho do celebrate Valentine's Day!! In fact, I'm wearing red to school tomorrow and reading all the classes the Valentines books I could find at my new library!! Monday I will go to a special Valentines lunch at Lepholisa...just think, papa and moroho for Valentine's Day! Yesterday I told the history (straight from the internet) of how the holiday "came to be."

Febbruary 8 - more pictures

Okay, if I've sent the right pictures, here's what you've got: 2 of the herdboy playing with/ training the calf, 2 of twoene's tail and one of the new cement floor (posted to "February 5, 2010" blog entry of 2/7/10).

Sunday, February 7, 2010


Okay...now I'll have to type fast to explain the pictures before I lose all this:

This is Tieko, Ntate and M'es grandson...I call him Abuti Matata...Little Mr. Trouble because he's always getting into mischief. he's an adorable 2 year old.

This is Tsoene sitting in a wheelbarrow. I call him Tsoene Matata...Monkey Trouble because his tail curls at the end just like a monkey's and because he, too, is always getting into mischief.

This is Tsoene sitting at my feet...just to put some perspective on his size.

This is Tsoene and Gunther making friends with one another...Gunther tolerates him.

February 6, 2010

Today I went to my first Lesotho funeral. M'e Nthabiseng's brother-in-law died, and she said it would be a great honor to her if I would attend the funeral. M'e Nthabiseng works for M'e Mamoabi and Ntate Joseph...she's an all round helper...cooks, watches the grandson, does the laundry, shopping, etc. Now M'e Nthabiseng is really very sweet, but she speaks hardly any English; when I politely ask her (in Sesotho) to repeat and slow down, she just talks louder!!! I knew I couldn't disrespect her by not showing up, and I also knew that she'd be showing me off to everyone...talking in Sesotho!! So I asked M'e Amelia, Ntate's daughter-in-law...who speaks quite a bit of English and who lives on the compound...to go with me. BACKGROUND: M'e Amelia was married to Ntate and M'es second oldest son. He divorced her, but she is still the mother of his two girls and still the property of Ntate and M'e. The children., two adorable young ladies, live with the father and his new mistress in Johannesburg, S.A. M'e Amelia agreed to all this because the children were going to an international school in J'burg at the time of the divorce; she felt it would be best for them to stay in J'burg so that they could finish their educations at the international school. So, here's this fairly well educated divorced woman living in rural Tabola with the in-laws and seeing her children only a few times a year! Harsh life, but M'e Amelia seems to be content. On with the story. M'e Amelia agreed to go to the funeral with me (she was going anyway). She told me to be ready at 11 A.M., wear a skirt, cover my head from the sun and be prepared to wait, wait, wait.
I put on my Basotho seshweshwe, lots of sun lotion and my straw hat, and off we went at 11 A.M. We walked down a little path and through some windings, and found ourselves some of the first to arrive. M'e said, “Let's find some shade; I think it's going to be a while.” When I asked how long the service would be, she said, “There's really no service; family members run the show. They each get up and talk about the deceased, along with lots of singing of hymns. When the family has had its say, the friends get up and talk. The funeral usually lasts 3 to 5 hours.” I took a deep breath and wished I had brought my insect repellent along!! We sat down beneath a peach tree and waited. Others slowly began to arrive, family members heading toward the compound, others finding spots in the shade like us. At 1:15 P.M. the first person began to speak (yea Basotho time). It was the deceased's brother. It is the job of a family member to explain about the person's death to everyone at the funeral.
Actually, the talking and singing only took about an hour...thank goodness because I kept trying to move my burning feet, shoulders, etc. from the hot sun. Finally, we all stood up and made a procession behind the casket; we followed it out of the compound and around a few hills, turns, etc. until we came to the spot where the casket would be buried. The body was laid to rest, we sang some more and then went back to the compound for a feast of stempo (similar to hominy), chicken and gravy.
M'e Nthabiseng was serving the food, and when she saw me she was so proud and happy! I'm truly glad I went (even if my nose is peeling again!).

February 5, 2010

This is probably a story you won't forget for a long time! .I promise, there are no exaggerations here. Yesterday when I arrived at Le Pholisa Primary, I was told that the children would be involved in a school project all day...let me give you some background first. Le Phodisa (pronounced Lay Poedeesa) Primary School is a church school. It is not a government school and therefore does not get funded in a manner equal to the government schools. The teachers are paid by the gov't., free lunch is provided, but the buildings are donated by the community. The chief of one of the villages in the area donated some land with some VERY run-down buildings on them...three to be exact. One building is the community L.E.C. Church (Lesotho Evangelical Church). It consists of one large room which is divided in half to house the first grade on one side and the fifth grade on the other...and a smaller room which is also divided in half to house the sixth and seventh grades. About one half mile away are two more rooms...both very small. One room, which has a roof caving in, is divided in half to house the second and third grades. Perpendicular to this building is a small shack with a dirt floor and two windows with broken panes of glass. This room has only benches in it; it houses the fourth grade.
The teachers are young and enthusiastic; they make due and seem to be getting some simple lessons across.
At any rate, the principal announced that some men in the community had decided to put a cement floor into the fourth grade room if we would provide the sand. So...the entire school (minus the first graders) spent the day carrying pails, buckets, plastic bags, lunch bowls...yes, their own lunch bowls...down to the river, filling them with sand and carrying them back up to the shack. The river is about two miles away...luckily on the same side of the main traffic road as the school. It is an uphill two mile walk back to the shack. Most of the children were barefooted; they carried small to HUGE contraptions on their heads, up and down the hill. (Of course, this was one of the few days I didn't bring my camera along.)
After the second trip, most of the little ones were exhausted, but they never complained; they just kept trudging up and down the hill, singing as they worked. At the end of the second trip (it was about 11AM, and almost the peak of the summer sun by this time), we were told that it wasn't enough sand. One more trip was made and completed...just in time for lunch...and the men were finally satisfied! Needless to say, the children ate everything in sight when lunch time rolled around. There are about 270 students in this school (minus the 25 first graders).
When we got to school this morning, the men were just finishing up...smoothing out the rough spots, etc. The teacher is thrilled because on Monday she'll be able to place some govt. supplied desks into the room! The class has been working and writing in their own laps and the teacher has had only an aluminum beach chair! Some Jack and Jill story, huh! Honestly, nothing has been exaggerated. The only part of the story which still has me perplexed is why the church school (and others as well) has not wanted to become a government school. They seem to be holding on to their belief that the church can handle their needs better than the government...and they seem quite stubborn about not wanting to be part of the government school system. The reason I find this so odd is that Lesotho is such a Christian country that prayer is said every morning, every afternoon, before every meal, and before all sports...religion is even taught in the government schools!Wheww...I am so glad it's Friday afternoon; I'm exhausted. Sunday at 9 A.M., there will be a “Meet M'e Neo Ramoabi (my new Basotho name) parents' meeting in the main building...I guess I'll have to sit through a service after that.