Do we remember who we are?

Do we remember who we are?

Any manly (human) being is not without a name, for the name in everyday nomenclature is what denotes individuality/ness. Without a name, all one is are the common human features assigned to the species and nothing more, for without a name, one ‘is’ (human) but they cannot be regarded fully as a member of a community or group or society; they are just in essence a peripheral shadow, an ‘unknown’ and until such a time that they get a name with which they can be called to determine the ‘who is he or she’ of the question of their identity, the individual might as well be non-existent: similar to a Jane or John Doe on a mortician’s slab is the individual without a name.

I can safely guess that the name for the first upright walking primates became a necessity first to mark the individual and their unique character or the manner of their birth either as a male or female member of the community into which they were born. The role which they played in such a society also had a hand in determining the name with which they would be called.

The name therefore is not just a name; it is a word that carries within it a thousand meanings that carry different meanings to different people.
The process of naming often depends on the event in occurrence at the point of birth, that is, one as an individual does not at the point of their birth get to choose their own name but is given a name by those gathered around the manger as elders of the clan or society.

This is the name that follows them around for the larger part of their life and stays so until the point of their death if nothing remarkable is achieved in the course of one lifetime. Those that achieved some feat that is remembered well into the current eras of human history have lived to see their original name disappear, and in its place come a nickname that sometimes/oftentimes takes precedence over the original name and becomes the name with which one as the individual is remembered.

This is what I choose to term ‘self-naming through deed,’ that is, a name that comes as a result of the great achievements the individual that bears the new name attains.

The original king of this here land is one such individual who, after conquests that are remembered well into the present day had his name changed from the original (Lepoqo) to the nickname (Moshoeshoe). Such was the power of the nickname that it took precedence over the original and ended up being the name attached to royal title of the state.

There is no ‘Lepoqo I’ but there is a ‘Moshoeshoe I,’ and the latter name has stuck to the present day. Who remembers Moshoeshoe may not necessarily have to remember Lepoqo. He worked hard for the latter name and it stuck.

Of the achievements of this great king (ignorant of the sometimes negative comments of the educated), the most paramount is the formation of the first multi-tribe, multi-clan nation; the Basotho.

To be a Mosotho did not mean that one had to be from the Bakuena clan, all it meant was that the leader and the people stood together with Morena Moshoeshoe and his armies in the defence of the motherland, Lesotho; an enclave that once was great but was reduced to its current dimensions by the marauding colonial authorities who sought to annex Lesotho and mark it as their territory.

He fought and won many battles, and tired due to age, the wise king threw his last coup de grâce and sought British aid; to protect the remaining shred of his once great land. In a letter to Sir Phillip E. Wodehouse on the 6th of December 1861 as found in Moloantoa Lelimo’s The Question of Lesotho’s Conquered Territory published by Morija Museum & Archives in 1998 (pg. 123), one gets the real sentiments of why Moshoeshoe oa Pele sought to see the end to the wars that were slowly nibbling away his land as moths do a piece of cloth in a trunk:

I am not perhaps altogether unable to defend my own country, but this I am unable to do – to keep from it the constant expectation of being attacked; this does my people no good. Such security Government alone can give me.
It is, therefore, that I ask to be received, that my people may never again be disturbed with thoughts of war, and may build and cultivate and grow in civilization.

The wise king sought only a form of peace that would enable his nation to progress into the future harmoniously, and true to his wish, Lesotho’s remaining territory was preserved to the present day.

Only the birth of the political class in this land seems to have somehow tampered with the image of Bosotho Morena Moshoeshoe sought to protect in his exhortations to the British government those many years ago (1868). The first of the crop were intellectuals that had seen the inside of a classroom long enough to ‘demand’ certain ‘rights’ to governance.

What their wish has been in terms of evidence is a clear departure from the original wishes of Morena Moshoeshoe, the trajectory of which sees the country in the political dilemma it now is in.

That there arises the need for external intervention is evidence of the locals lacking the will to solve their own matters and, ‘civilised’ as we are through the western education we possess (the state ranks very high in terms of literacy rates), we fail, rather dismally to sort out matters as the wise king did 150 years ago.

The once used concept of tribe has been replaced by political party affiliation: and the polarisation of a once glorious country goes on unchecked as the followers parry words to prove who is right and who is wrong at the expense of the welfare of the motherland.

Politics may be good for those that understand them, but the kind of politics we have always had in this country are not of the smart kind. Being largely apolitical, it means I can express frank opinions on what is irking me both as an individual and a patriot.

My frank opinion is that the average politician in this country does not know who they are in terms of the contribution they can bring to the table to see to the true progress of this land.

The empty lobbyist speeches do not see progress come to the fore, they only vaguely speak of the wished that is often not addressed as soon as one government abdicates its seat to see the ascendancy of the next one.

For more than 25 years (if 1993 is to be marked as the starting point of this new political era), the parleying in parliament has followed a similar pattern; one that sees one side declaring itself right only because they got more votes in the polls. Popular vote does not exactly mean that the core and salient issues are being addressed.

The view of the larger mass in a land where the political thought is based on an unclear foundation is dubious. The politics of this land do not have a form unique to the land, that is, there is no clear cornerstone, the most important of which I believe should be an unshakable love for the country and its people.

Out of love for country and people will stem the need to see to the betterment of their health and welfare, to their acquisition of wealth, to their general sense of harmony which will make the attainment of the ‘civilization’ Morena Moshoeshoe yearned for in his waning years.
To a large extent, Morena Moshoeshoe influenced modern thought on harmonious assimilation of different tribes to come up with a nation. The old man understood that at the most basic, all of us are human despite the varying backgrounds from which we come.

Understanding that all sought peace and harmony after the extended wars of the 1800’s, this wise king built a nation that for a time understood clearly who they were; a different people working for a common goal, that is, the attainment of a harmonious state of nationhood that was instinctively based on ignoring previous episodes of altercation.

We are the Basotho nation only because Moshoeshoe loved his neighbours as he loved himself, we are because he did not impose his principles but instead raised the awareness of his neighbours to the truths of the moment; there was a need for peace after extended war and strife, and there was a need to protect the only piece of land left from the land-grabbing marauders whose main interest was the subjugation of entire lands to gain free-reign in terms of plundering for the benefit of their homelands.

Why the current era’s politics fail to garner the same amount of zeal in ensuring that the country and the resources are to the benefit of all is hard to fathom.

Gazing at the political countenance of this land makes one wonder whether they are looking at the face of a dramatic liar or unsalvageable narcissist; one that is destroying it all because they do not have the wisdom to realise that the country is their children’s future land.

If Moshoeshoe could go down on his knees and beg for the future of his people, I do not understand why the current politician cannot do the same. At some point in time, the individual patriot has to be humble for the sake of the welfare and the peace of the land.

Believing in power as a remedy in actual terms scatters the very basic purpose for which it is meant; to help one gain the wished. The proclaimed wish is hinged on the welfare of the people, the garnering of the wealth of the land, and general peace and harmony.
In the 25 years since ‘democratic’ rule was instilled, all one has seen is the same deck of cards shuffled, and magically, the same cards reappear. Each regime comes with its people, those of the previous one are kicked out of public service to make way for those that ground the turf for the now ruling party in its pre-election campaigns.

And the beat goes on as the hopes of the youth descend further into the infernos of perdition. Often educated or skilled this is the group that carries the brunt of the pain as political eras change guard, at one point in five year terms, but more recently in short two year terms.
The politician carries the benefits and the perks of office that come with the position they now occupy; the masses follow, spurred on by a fanatic zeal of the avid soccer fan. Of the welfare of the people as a whole, assistance is often lacking, and the lame excuse is that the funds are lacking; in a country that exports water and has recently unearthed the fifth largest diamond in the entire world.

Morena Leabua Jonathan was a good man, just misunderstood to a large extent by the people he sought to salvage from the clutches of regress. Those that claimed they could do better than he did have walked not one step in the direction of the wishes of Morena Moshoeshoe as Chief Leabua seems to have done in the years of his rule. One has to get personal with the process of progress, and the philosophy of Bosotho that Morena Moshoeshoe cultivated provides all the answers as to how we can harmoniously progress towards a better land.

If he conceived of the true tenets of true nationhood as expressed by the idea of inclusiveness in the quest for the attainment of all things necessary to see to the progress of the land, one fails to understand why the current political crop fail to understand this simple wisdom.
To believe that a figure that has crossed a thousand hills and mountains, crossed a dozen rivers and a score streams to get to where we are to teach us how to garner peace is a whimsical and naïve idea.

The answers to our demise were provided a hundred and fifty years ago by Morena Moshoeshoe; he who is who we really are: for as Frederick Douglass in his Up From Slavery attests;

They are they who are represented as professing to love God whom they have not seen, whilst they hate their brother whom they have seen.
To know oneself (truly), to understand oneself (really), and to know oneself (in fact) means that one should sometimes retrace one’s steps to that point where they really were themselves.

For us, it may mean going back 150 years back into the courts of Morena Moshoeshoe to find out who we really are. Ka ‘nete!

Tsepiso S Mothibi

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