Becoming a people time will forget

Becoming a people time will forget

JUST last week, two vandals apparently entered Makoanyane Square and began to trash the replica of the WWII Spitfire that stands in the centre of this place that is the selected site of memorial for the heroes of this land that enlisted to fight in the two world wars.
Perhaps this sacred spot in the middle of the city does not mean much for the two vagabonds, but the reality is that the presence of the warplane replica is testament to the valiant spirit of the Basotho who took the bull by the horns and put their lives on the line for the sake of what is now termed world peace.

Their effort was not in vain, for we did get world peace at the expense of more than 1 500 lives in the WWII campaign against Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich and more than less the same figure in the WWI campaign against the Kaiser.

Basotho in actual terms contributed 24 of the spitfires as a contribution to the war effort, on top of the more 21 500 men and boys that had enlisted under the command of Regimental Sergeant Majors Marena Theko David Makhaola, M.B.E. (Qacha’s Nek), Mahlomola Masupha (Berea), Jonathan Mojela (Mafeteng), and Khethisa Tau (Leribe/Pitseng), and the replica model of the Spitfire that stands at the memorial is a token of appreciation that was long overdue, but is of significant historical and heritage importance in terms of its wealth in national memory and the universal spirit of the Commonwealth nations that vanquished an evil that threatened the existence of the race groups the megalomaniac Adolf Hitler termed untermensch (subhumans) of which the black races of the world were together with the more than 6 million Jews considered to be in his twisted mind.

Had they not boarded the ships at the Port of Natal from their often distant villages to go on various victorious campaigns across the vast breadth of North Africa, the Middle East, and Europe, the world we live in today would not be what we see. Hitler’s vision of what he termed the Third Reich was of trains of slaves drawn from what he considered subhuman races of the world working as forced labour for his Aryan race. The harrowing pictures one sees of Auschwitz, Treblinka, Dachau, Sorbibor, and other concentration camps of WWII would have been a living reality.

But those gallants from the land of Moshoeshoe heard the call to arms to curtail the threat to the existence of the human race. They boarded strange ships and braved appalling conditions in the desert sands of North Africa, freezing winds and piling snows in the Pyrenees of France and Spain, the high mountains of Italy and the merciless sleets of the Syrian mountains.
Rated the best soldiers of the WWII campaign, our soldiers fought for the peace of the world, and though largely forgotten and not appropriately honoured, mementos such as the model Spitfire serve as points of reference if one bothers to question their presence on the podium where they rest.

The two turd brains could not understand this fact or the significance of keeping the memory of a nation, and their deed serves as evidence that the lack of the acknowledgement of our history may just lead to our demise.

Last week, I mentioned how strange and ironic it is that one is taught of Columbus before they are taught of Morena Mohlomi, and though there may be a defence that Moshoeshoe is mentioned in terms of history, the truth is that it is only in passing, for a lot of schools in this country have actually phased out History as a subject altogether.
The in-depth details of the history of the land and neighbouring African states is slowly being pushed into the background despite its tremendous significance in engendering the spirit of patriotism and self-identification in a global world.

The argument is that subjects such as history do not feature in modern “industry”, but my argument is that an individual whose main preoccupation is to be part of industry without the true knowledge of self is no different from a robot in an assembly line.
Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist understood who he was at the hands of a scallywag, and understood how the world around him operated, we have the benefit of having a solid root in the countenance of Morena Moshoeshoe who himself was mentored by Morena Mohlomi.

Without the knowledge and the understanding of one’s past one is not human but something else: an “other”. This is the type of other that does not know where it all began, whose existence is focused on the fleeting present ignorant of the fact that the future too needs the past to have some semblance of surety.
Without an understanding of the past, we may as well be just tools in the hands of someone unknowingly performing such an individual’s wishes of how they want the world to look like and not how we want it to look like as free men. Without the understanding of the past, the likelihood is that we shall be following what we do not know to the point of oblivion where we shall in essence be lost forever.

We need to remember to understand how to take the next step from the point at which we stand, and those that threaten our future by destroying pieces of our past need to simply be walked to the gallows. Countries preserve their cultural and historical heritage sites and artefacts with zeal; we fail to protect a two year old memento of a significant milestone in the entire history of the human race.

I am sure the two nincompoops that trashed the plane would not hesitate to take a flight to Egypt to see the over 5 000 year-old pyramids of El Giza but they had the audacity to defile a sacred symbol of our valour as a nation without a second thought: poor runts must have been high on some peyote or they are just possessed with the type of demon that ate into Hitler’s brain that he began a systematic erasure of history just so that he could build his own.

When the Nazi war campaign began, entire libraries of books he thought were contrary to his twisted view of the world were burned in bonfires, these two sons of looseness committed an act as equally atrocious.  The authorities sound apologetic when it comes to dealing with this matter, with certain sectors actually stating that one of the two is actually a certified lunatic. I think I would take this lame excuse to head if such a figure had trashed their mother’s closet first, for now, I’d lynch the lost soul first and then defend him afterwards.

I sit here and think of this event and begin to wonder where exactly it is that we lost our sense of history and heritage as a nation and what comes to mind are a few points. The first of these is the systematic decay of the family structure, which serves as the basic point of socialisation for every individual living in any community in the world.
The advent of the migrant labour system that came with the colonial capitalist mode of production meant that families were often unwittingly separated for extended periods.

Away from each other, individuals begin to lose their sense of relationship and this in turn leads to such individuals relating with anything they come across, which is in itself the result of the primal and instinctive human need to relate. At this point in time, what one related with in the past is sacrificed as interest in the new entity rises and takes precedence over everything that was existent in a previous point in time.

Men became detached from their families as they toiled in the belly of the earth, their children grew up without them and over time began to pick up habits and characteristics that see this nation as fragmented as it is this day. The two vandals may possibly be from this stock that does not understand the true essence of relationships with people and how one should respect what is sacred to other people even if it may seem mundane in their individual opinion.

I would be skinned with a whip where I grew up if I dared walk on the graves of the old as a child, and from this practice I learnt of the sanctity of that which is respected by the entire community.
The clear departure from the indigenous knowledge systems that are true and tested and the adoption of new and little understood systems of knowledge from foreign cultures has led to the birth of a new creature whose main call is ‘me, me, me!’ instead of ‘us’ and ‘our’.

From the hoarding of the television remote control, to the watching of the virtual realities of the cartoon world, the modern-day child will grow up to be a ‘creature’ that has no second thoughts about desecrating what is sacred to the community in which they live. And when they are asked who they are in terms of their history, who will they say they are?

One hears of such nonsense as, “old customs and traditions are oppressive and old…” and such honourable practices as the ownership of land have been put into disarray, where families actually sell the land bequeathed upon them by their forebears for the sake of money to be used to buy a house in the city where one lives in a 4 metre by 4 metre flat.
The foolish argument is often that, “there is no life in the rural areas…” to which I answer under my breath from between my teeth that, “wake up dimwit, if you don’t own your land, some stranger will come and own it, and make slaves out of your women and your children, for you, you will be forgotten…” the landless are the poorest, followed by those who have no land on which they can till and sow seeds to harvest when the winters of the years come.

We as a people in this land are evasive when it comes to discussing the significance of owning land, and this is the point at which our poverty begins. Having a mortgage and paying rent mean that one is a perpetual slave to someone, owning a title deed or lease means that one actually possesses their future in their hands that they can actually fashion to whatever end they wish it to be.
The essence of custom and tradition is that it keeps the individual rooted in terms of the communal spirit that keeps the human race together. Even as migrating birds have a leader to follow in their annual journey to a more comfortable part of the world, so does custom and tradition serve as a mental leader to the individual that wants to reach some destiny in the future.

This is one of the reasons individuals that behave contrary to the set Basotho custom of humility and the long-held tradition of being welcoming are referred to as a ‘custom-less’. Such individuals often become vagabonds and vandals because they essentially have no point of reference when it comes to what is considered acceptable behaviour and character.

Such characters are rogue, subject to episodes of eccentric behaviour that besmirches the real character of the Basotho nation. The only sadness is that with the advent of the technological age, they shall become more acceptable if the responsible authorities do not take charge and stem this tide of madness. The two vandals need to be made an example out of for the sake of our history and heritage that we need to face the future.

I look at what Basotho achieved in the past and it makes me realise one fact: if they did it back then, it means I can achieve greater heights considering that I have more in terms of access to resources. If it was only seen as a possibility back then, then it means that it is a reality in my age.

But such realities never come because we fail to note the achievements we have made in the past. There was a national air service, it has faded, records disappear from our national archives and are lost forever, we are adopting new cultures and in the process end up treated as nobodies when we come across people from other parts of the world who jealously guard their history and preserve their heritage.

The fact is that the erasure of national history and the desecration of national heritage points or sites leads to meaninglessness and purposelessness. Without adequate acknowledgement of the true worth of the land we possess with history and heritage as reference points, we are on a sure path to becoming a people time will surely forget. Who plans to argue must first muse on how it would be to be forgotten, to have the entire history of their land buried in an unknown grave in the vast cemeteries of time. I want to be remembered like everybody else. You should feel the same way too, otherwise we shall become a people time will forget.

BY: Tšepiso S Mothibi

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