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!!!

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