Wednesday, November 7, 2012

November 4, 2012 - Lepholisa Farewell

On Friday, November 2, Lepholisa Primary School held a Farewell Feast for ‘M’e Neo… me.  It was intended to be a joyous occasion, filled with memories of my past three years in Lesotho, funny and sad stories, traditional songs and dances, traditional Basotho food and gift giving.

The day was all of this…and more.  It was a tearful day of facing reality for me…the reality that I shall soon be leaving the Basotho people and my beloved second home, Lesotho.

            The ceremony was stressful because I tried to be as strong as a Basotho woman, but failed.  I was unable to control my tears the way the bo ‘m’e do during all their trials and tribulations…but at the same time, I realized that that’s okay!  I was reminded that I am an American woman, strong and capable…capable of showing and sharing these emotions with those who are dear to me. This was a gentle reminder of my origins and my home, America.

            As difficult as the day was for me, I must say that everyone else had a wild and happy time!
   The food:  setampo- creamed maize kernels, papa- a maize like corn bread, likhobe- corn kernels, khoho- chicken, nyekoe- beans and sorghum, lipabe-maize (which has been roasted, ground to a flour–like consistency and mixed with salt and sugar, then put into the palm of the hand to be licked), and motoho- a sour, loose porridge to which sugar is added before drinking.  The feast was scrumptious!!!

            I was also presented with traditional Basotho clothing:  a red seshoeshoe- a dress, a tuku-matching scarf, a tjale- a small blanket that the women wear over their shoulders or around their waists, and a Basotho hat. 
Many other small gifts were presented: a statue of  King Moshoeshoe the first king of Lesotho,  a diary, a clay pot and a small purse made from local mohair!

            There were speeches, speeches and more speeches…all in Sesotho of course; my friend and colleague, Nthabeseng,was kind enough to sit next to me and translate. 
Then the students in each grade performed a traditional song or dance in my honor.

            After all the formalities were finished, the crowd of students, parents, dignitaries, etc. began to feast, drink, dance and sing. 
The highlight of the dancing was when many of the ntate (fathers) formed a circle around me and began to dance and sing…it was lovely! 
We all finally went home, exhausted, full and happy.  
Lepholisa, I shall never forget you!

            Ah, tomorrow there’s another farewell at Mopeli School.  Maybe I won’t cry!!!

October 19, 2012 - Tanzania and Zanzibar

This boat can take you to some of the other islands off the coast of Tanzania

My trip to Tanzania and Zanzibar was fantastic…so very different from sub-Saharan Africa, where I live.  Because of its proximity to the Equator, Tanzania’s weather, vegetation, wildlife, etc. are all so different from what I am used to seeing in Lesotho and South Africa.

The last picture is taken on the dock when we waiting for the ferry to take us back to the mainland.

These are some of the Maasai herds men who live on the Serengeti Plains.
First of all, the weather is wonderful…hot and dry on the mainland especially in the towns of Moshi and Arusha, and hot and muggy on the coast and in Zanzibar. 

This is a view of Mt Kilimanjaro from our hotel window.  It's almost always covered in cloud, so we were very lucky to see it that morning.

Mt Kilimanjaro looked awesome from our window at the hotel in Moshi.  We actually never got a much closer look than what you see in the picture…although…Terry did!  Most Tanzanians have never climbed the mountain; they’re too busy trying to survive and raise enough food to keep their families healthy.  However, they are all quite proud of this national, natural treasure!  They are also proud of the Serengeti Plain,
a typical view of the Serengeti Plain.  It's flat, hot and can see long grass dancing in the breeze and acacia trees no matter where you look.  Only the Maasai live on the Serengeti today.  They are a strong, hardy group of people who are able to survive under the most harsh, dry conditions.

Ngorongoro Crater and all the wildlife and abundant fruits of their country.

The Ngorongoro Crater is in the Serengeti National Park.  It's a crater which was formed millions of years ago from a volcano.  Many different forms of wildlife live on the rim and down in the crater.  People are allowed to live along the rim; in fact, the Maasai, a tribe of herds people, live along the rim.  These people still adhere to their traditional and purple cloth used as a light blanket and colorful small beads on their ankles and wrists.  The Maasai are allowed to bring their herds of cattle down into the crater every day to water them., but on one is allowed to stay down there overnight.  It's wonderful wild in the crater!
The animals on the Serengeti Plain and in the Ngorongoro Crater are left completely alone.  Occasionally, a ranger may collar an animal to study its movements, but other than that, they are left completely alone.  They are not fenced in nor fed by man.  As far as I know, the only man-made interference is that hunting the animals is forbidden.
Visiting Zanzibar was like visiting a different continent.  99% of the residents are Muslims; therefore their bodies are almost always covered, no matter how hot it gets.
a taxi on the island of Zanzibar. All of the taxis are open-topped taxis, with flaps that can fold down in case of a heavy rainfall.
A dhow, by the way is a small fishing sailboat.

Stonetown, an ancient town on the island of Zanzibar, is where we stayed…

This is a picture of the hotel we stayed at in Zanzibar.  It was originally a palace for a very wealthy landlord.  It's been remodeled several times since it was first built in 1559, but all remodeling has stayed true to the palace's original architecture.  The hotel was loaded with all sorts of wonderful antiques!

at a wonderful hotel that had first been built in 1559! (Of course it’s been updated throughout its history.)  The antiques at this hotel were fantastic…as was the food. 

This is where we were first introduced to the bongo fruit…an ugly fruit that makes a delicious juice!  

We spent time on the lovely beaches of Zanzibar and explored a spice plantation! 

This is a picture I took from the ferry going back to the mainland from's two islands that are washing away from the bottom up!

This picture is of Maasai bee hives.  The people cut out logs and hang them in trees.  Then the bees take it from there!
As much as I loved being on Zanzibar, I must say that the highlight of my trip was my six-day safari on the Serengeti Plain.  You’d think that by now I’d be sick of looking at animals in the wild…NOT AT ALL!  This safari was every bit as thrilling as my first one.  One fun part was when Barbara and I “roughed it” in a luxury tent at a safari campground…no kidding…

The next is a picture of the tent Barbara and I stayed in at the Safari campground.  It was so much fun...running water, a toilet and a shower, all inside the tent!

it really was a luxury tent…complete with our very own sink, shower and flushing toilet IN THE TENT!  Our two nights tenting were definitely better than the accommodations at the other lodges.

Terry, Barbara and I had an exciting trip; we all came back to Lesotho both tired and refreshed!!

Barbara is standing at the base of a very old baobab tree.

Now, my major work each day is preparing for my return to the United States.  I am beginning to “back off” from many of my daily school activities; it’s difficult to let go, but in order for all the work that’s been done to be sustainable, I must now sit back and watch all my Basotho colleagues and friends take over.  I am not used to sitting!!!! Oh well, there’s a lot of reading to do!