Dealing with bad roads

Dealing with bad roads

Well there is one fact; the road has since the moment humanity invented the wheel become central as the basic infrastructure upon which the movement of goods and services are transported from one point to the next.
If it is smooth as it should be, then the movement of such basic and necessary goods and services is executed efficiently, timeously, and to the satisfaction of the two sides involved, that is, the sender and the recipient of goods and services delivered upon the surface of the road.

If the roads are bad, then the delivery of the required assets or products gets hampered and the two sides involved or dependent upon the goods and the services suffer; the deliverer loses a lot in terms of profits to be gained and the recipient is forced to wait longer for that which may sometimes be vital to the solution of prevalent problems.

Imminent in this equation is the simple fact that when the roads are bad, then the whole of the economy suffers, and the simplest way one can assess the level of economic progress can be done by looking at the state of the roads on which the vehicular, animal, human and other forms of traffic travel on a daily basis.

Bad roads mean that the economy is not moving forward, for the drivers and travellers are dodging potholes instead of driving as they should or as their means of travel is designed to perform in an environment that permits them to perform at an optimal level. One loses most of the time dodging the dangers natural to bad roads and can therefore not reach their intended destinations on time.

There are 10 000 meanings to everything; and the road has revealed itself to be a central motif in the definition of governance and the African economy. In African literature one finds authors such as Ben Okri and Wole Soyinka using the road to explore themes such as individuality, post-independence, nationalism, and Africa’s neo-colonial history. Both have had works whose titles are eponymous with the road (The Road, and The Famished Road respectively), and so one wonders: why this fascination with the road?

The answer comes in the form of an observation I made as a young man that life is in more ways than one similar to a journey on the road. There are garages to refill tanks low on fuel needed to go on (in this case the company of counsel that includes priests who provide spiritual guidance, friendly company that give advise in hard times, those who provide encouragement when challenges seem insurmountable, and so on) on the road of life.

There are also shebeens and speakeasies where one can go if they feel that they need to revive themselves after an extended period of hard work (braais, festivals, concerts, parties and such other gatherings meant for mirth and merriment) and therefore have to forget about work, if only for a short while.

There are hotels where one can languish in the arms of slumber and sloth for a while, and it must be understood that we cannot afford to check into hotels for too long for there is work to be done. In this country, we gather and rest in hotels for important meetings and symposiums.
It is not bad if we stay long enough to remember that the real work is just outside the perimeter of the surreal pleasures hotels provide. There are roads to be fixed to ensure the smooth travel of the state and the continent through the passage of history and time.

We just have to find what meaning is relevant to what sense and the road and its meanings are central to the understanding of what African politics do or can do if they are approached in a novel manner. Human virtues smoothen the road ahead, and a character tended to vice creates potholes and subsidence. One possessing a character that is virtuous is like a wheel that is perfectly circular and this means that they can easily travel on the smooth road.

One that is morally weak or full of vice is bound to find the going very hard, because no matter whether the road is smooth, they become a square or a triangle which naturally cannot roll on the road but has to be pushed along. This calls for the Basotho to individually introspect and find out exactly what manner it is that they approach issues.

I spoke of the term ‘intention’ a few weeks ago, and I also mentioned that it is the core aspect of the decision, that is, the intention of one acts as the axle to the wheel of actions one undertakes.
Without the right intention being the core of one’s deeds, then they cannot move on but remain stuck in a moment that they cannot get out of because a wheel with a flawed axle cannot move forward.

Intentions are a private affair known only to the doer, but they are expressed out in the public sphere where their repercussions are felt by all. The fixing of this nation shall therefore stem out of the intentions of all that are actively or passively involved.
The leader and the follower should always carry the right intention in their hearts if this kingdom is to progress beyond to the stage where the roads are not pockmarked with potholes in all spheres social and governmental.

The changing in the pattern of the movement forward on the road of history often means that all should excise bad habits, tendencies and acts from their daily lives.  Change is an individual decision, and in this country we have the fortune of having the first monarch (Morena Moshoeshoe) as a model upon which we can base our positive change strategies to lead the country to the peace, the rain, and the prosperity that form the phrase that is our national motto.

It takes individual effort to change all that will fan out into the wider sphere of the community and the state if all that we wish for this country to be is concomitant with that which is related to/with the progress of time. Each individual is a traveller on the road of time, and such an individual assumes the role of a road-worker should the road seem to be degrading into a state where it shall prove to be unusable.

Morena Moshoeshoe as an individual may have had the fortune to have Morena Mohlomi as his mentor and tutor on the role and state of good leadership. But it is also safe to assume that he may have had a moment of epiphany at some point in his private musings on the revelations his wise counsel gave.

He must have realised that accusation led to the widening of the gap between the complainant and the accused instead of mending the vital relationships salient to the maintenance of the spirit of community necessary to the process of progress. We cannot be accusing each other forever on issues that occurred decades ago. What is more important is establishing exactly what it is that is troubling the individual, the community and the state at this point in time.

A pothole is a hole in the road that is hampering the movement of all the wheels that come across it.
Potholes are likely to cause accidents as drivers veer dangerously around them, and so it is never wise to debate on how to fill the pothole; the only thing that has to be done is to fill the darn pothole and move on to the next one if there are others: that is how you fill or fix the potholes that punctuate the road ahead.
What I have seen is that the political class in this country hold the notion that they can discuss issues related to the progress of the country sans the opinions of the ordinary citizens whose role is limited to that of being the voter at the polling station.

By treating the process of decision-making as an affair exclusive only to those in parliament and the senate, the political or governmental figure in this country is erroneously ignoring one fact; that one cannot fix a problem that they do not encounter on a daily basis. Only the sole of the shoe or the tread of the tire know the lie of the road, and whoever thinks that the problems of the state can be defined by Annual or NGO reports on the economic development state of the country is sheer delusion. The veracity of the reports may not be an accurate portrait on the core issues that need to be addressed to get the country out of the economic rut it is now stuck in.

The culture of the individual, the customs and the traditions that raised (socialised) them from infancy, the tendencies of a given sector of society, and the manner with which they approach issues that need to be solved all come into play once the solving of imminent and prevalent problems becomes a reality that needs to be decisively dealt with. Adopting a roundabout way to dealing with issues leads to more problems springing up where they once were not.

The simple procedure to follow lies in one establishing the true source of the problem and dealing with it at the grassroots level and not just at the point where its symptoms are obvious.
For example, crime is just a symptom whose sources lie deep in the life history of the criminal figure; one does not just wake up a criminal but it is often the result of the enculturation and socialisation in the immediate environment they grew up in.

That the street vendor stalls in all towns of Lesotho sell similar commodities is not because the goods on sale are the only ones available in wholesales or warehouses; it is the result of a copy-cat culture that itself finds its roots in envy and covetousness which is maintained by a lack of control on the part of government legislature.

There are no pre-designed spaces assigned for the sale of specific goods, that is, there is total lack of control as to where a given trader should sell their wares and this has led to the chaos one finds in a city that was clean less than twenty years ago.
The relevant ministries and departments should have long ago chipped in with the right strategies to sort out issues like this one, but all one sees is incessant dilly-dallying instead of decisiveness.

When Ayi Kwei-Armah wrote The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born, the totemic figure of the one bus that changes its drivers as it follows the stretch of road on its daily journeys was representative of the post-independence political atmosphere on the African continent.
The drivers change but the bus stays the same, and in reality; the politicians change but the problems we encounter as ordinary citizens exacerbate to levels where they might prove near-impossible to solve.

What the political figures do on their travels to other lands is a question that needs to be answered; do they go to sightsee or to come back with solutions to imminent problems? We cannot rely on aid when we have the potential to self-sustain as a land (unless we are in reality bootlickers and knobshiners that are only here in this world to preen the egos of other men).

The road this country is on is far from good because the potholes have been left to languish for so long that they have become dongas and ravines in certain sectors.

The need is for the youth to take up the fight and individually decide that the best love one can possess is the love of the neighbour and the country.
Politics have polarised a once united nation into factions whose numbers are growing with each passing day. Politics as an entity is itself a pothole that needs to be filled if we are to progress; we should adopt politics of unity instead of division by party colour.

Rwanda got over the 1994 genocide and leaped to the front of the pack. Lesotho can get out of its state of beggarhood into its rightful role of being the true symbol of peace and prosperity; only if we fix the potholes in the road.

Tsepiso S Mothibi

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