Malentsunyane braai festival organisers nailed it

Malentsunyane braai festival organisers nailed it

I have not watched, listened or read news about events in Lesotho for the last three weeks. It’s a funny feeling being in the dark like that. It is like going to a foreign country you know nothing about except for where it lays on the map.
This is what it felt like when I arrived back in Lesotho on Friday afternoon 24th November a day before the Maletsunyane Braai Festival.
So, you can imagine the tons of questions I had for the Mrs who had come to pick me up. I wanted to be filled in on everything that’s been happening in the country since the last time I was here.

Getting through immigration took longer than usual. I did not mind this because I was seeing lots of foreign looking people in the queue. This excited me. It shows that Lesotho is open for business. Besides, my Mrs is never on time. When I eventually got through, I found her already waiting. I was pleasantly surprised.

My Mrs you see, uses a watch that’s on a different time zone. So she is always late. And worse, she refuses to correct it. But after 16 years of marriage, you just learn to live with such things.
So anyway, after the usual pleasantries and asking after the kids, I started firing away –one question after the other.

I wanted to know if the SADC force had now arrived. Had the former commander of the Lesotho Defence Force been granted bail? Had any action been taken against the clown who had made a nuisance of himself in parliament those few weeks back? Had there be any more high-profile arrests? Had the Leader of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and his deputy and the Deputy Leader of the Democratic Congress returned from exile?
On and on the questions, went.

She was in no mood for this sort of discussion.
“I have not read the papers and you know I never listen to the radio. Why are you asking me all these questions?”, she said before she skilfully changed the subject.

“Did you buy the Maletsunyane Festival Tickets? Where are the tickets? You said you bought them several weeks ago, but I have not seen them. We are going to this festival. Enough of this always sitting at home business. Tomorrow we are going to Semonkong”
Fortunately, I had bought the tickets but very reluctantly. Every second day for months, she had made it a point to call and to remind me to buy the tickets. Not sure why she did that. Perhaps she thought I was going senile.

But I must confess, I would much rather have spent the weekend at home to catch up and to bond with the little ones. But I am glad that she pestered me as hard as she did.
The Maletsunyane Braai Festival was an awesome experience. Having never been to Semonkong before, I was completely blown away. Lesotho is truly a beautiful country. But more needs to be done to merchandise it.

Better leveraging this beauty will go a long way to improve our dire unemployment situation. Tourism is a great job creator. A lot of work though is required to unleash this potential.
This is becoming more and more clearer to me as I continue to read “Why Africa is poor and what Africans can do about it.”

From the first couple of pages I have read, it seems to be a good read to jolt our thinking in a different direction i.e. Government, civil society and the private sector to learn from past policy mistakes and to start doing things differently. We can learn a lot from this book.
Here are a couple of quotes by Greg Mills the author, that resonated with me:

“States are thus poor because in the main they have failed to take advantage of globalisation, and put the institutions and policies in place necessary to do so. The result is that they are high cost, high risk and have low productivity”.
“And those that are richer, are so because they have adopted better standards of governance and possessed more responsive and responsible governments”.

“East Asia, during an earlier era, had managed a similar economic and social revolution. A basic formula worked there: good, efficient government committed to popular welfare coupled with a hardworking, increasing skilled and educated labour force”.
“Asia’s continued prosperity has appeared to be linked to conditions of improving political pluralism – the existence of an independent middle class, where business was not dependent on government contracts, parliamentarians who could not be sacked by the party, and a professional civil service class. Africa – with a few exceptions, has battled to apply this formula both with consistency and with success.”

I quote this book not to show off my reading list (there is very little of it to show off) but to celebrate the Malentsunyane Festival organisers for making me better appreciate the little of what I have started to read in that book.
The book suggests that the reasons we have failed to benefit from globalisation have nothing to do with external factors. Some of the reasons it posits include our thinking and attitudes. The Maletsunyane Braai Festival organisers give me hope for the future because their thinking was on a completely different level.

What they pulled off is spectacular. They deserve our respect and honour. This event was not only a boon for the economy, it also served as a great showpiece of Lesotho. They made lots of Basotho like me who had never been to Semonkong before and the many visitors who came to our shores (perhaps one of the reasons for the long queues at the airport the day I arrived) appreciate the beauty of this country.

Lesotho is a very beautiful country. Thanks very much to the organisers of this showpiece for making that message so loud and clear.
All that stuff I wanted the Mrs to fill me in on when I arrived, now no longer seems to matter that much. Such stories don’t inspire hope, but the Maletsunyane Braai Festival story does. It’s a beautiful story we should all share with the world.

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