Understanding nationhood

Understanding nationhood

The story of the camel that came begging in from the cold and which ended up throwing the owner of the tent out of the tent into the cold desert sandstorm is one that is known around the world.

The meanings behind the tale are not that many, there is just the simple warning that one should always be on the lookout for those little bad things that come creeping into one’s life only to destroy all that one has built over a large period of preceding time, that is, the period before the bad thing that evicted all the other good qualities in the individual came.

One may be steely in their resolutions, but as soon as they let some weakness take control, then all that was founded upon a rock is bound to fall to pieces that may not be salvageable with the passage of the years.

I am looking into the history of the nation, and what I am sensing is that we are where we are as a nation because some error in our national character was given room to proliferate until the point where it smothered what was previously good.

I know that there might be discontent when it comes to the analysis of the fallacies that may have led this once mighty nation astray. But excising the bad is not as savoury a subject as discussing truth in fact to reach the point where we can all be in agreement; where we can all sort this mess to find the way forward. And we start with our individual character.

An ordinary individual in Lesotho grows in a family from a particular clan, living in a community of other families of different clans and cultural backgrounds. On top of these are the different church or religious denominations to which most families and individuals are affiliated; and they too have tremendous influence in shaping the manner and patterns one views the community, the society or the nation.

When Morena Moshoeshoe oa Pele united the different clans into one, the best thing he did was to erase the cultural, customary and clan lines that split the Basotho. He was right in this instance because what he must have realised was that a people demarcated by such mundane things as clan name would at the end of the day never unite as a nation.

The only way he could have united these people from varying clans was if he gave them one name to follow, which he did by founding the Basotho clan. The goal was one, that is, to save the people from the marauding colonial forces that sought to annex and then finally capture the last remaining vestige of his land which now forms the state known as Lesotho.

The remaining piece of his land seems to have gone well until the individual in Lesotho became a political entity, and politics became the camel that came knocking in from the cold and with time, politics has systematically erased the only traditional institution of governance; the monarchy and chieftainship.

One as an individual does not often realise the essence of chieftainship largely due to the snide manner in which it is referred to these days; that it is an old practice that should be left because it is ‘undemocratic’.
It may be true that in a few and scattered instances the old system may seem undemocratic, but it cannot be judged on the basis of democracy because it is not based on democracy but on the mutual understanding of prevalent reality.

When Moshoeshoe’s grandfather was eaten by cannibals, he did not avenge the death largely because he understood the culprits’ plight in the face of the Lifaqane.

He understood that these cannibals were human like he was and could still be redeemed from the ways of survival they had been forced into by circumstances they had encountered in the long years of the extended drought, war, and strife.
His act of forgiveness not only got him the benefit of having a larger force in his military ranks, but it also increased his influence as a chief to the status of being a king in a land of different tribes united by the vision of one man.

I agree with the assimilatory manner in which the Basotho nation was founded and I choose not to agree with the so-called democratic rule, for it is in itself not always democratic in the land and on the continent.
For all the post-independence years, democratic rule has tended to be a totalitarian entity that in its pursuit of the little understood western-influenced systems of governance is now a clearly visible mask meant to act as cover to drive the individual interests of the ruling party and not those of the nation.

The individual defines themselves not on the background of his or her self, but rather, society forms the perfect background on which one in their pursuit of happiness can mould their dreams on. A child that is raised (as is common practice in the ‘upper middle class’ of the present times) with the false and misconstrued notion that only they, their families and affiliates exist in the world is bound to be shocked once they grow old enough to realise that the world does not end at their doorstep.

The advent of the educated class in Lesotho seems to have come with such false beliefs as class, and the sad thing is that it came in an era when Morena Moshoeshoe’s story was still fresh in the national memory.

How the thought that being able to read and write exempted one to an echelon higher than those who could not do these new practices vexes my understanding. The only answer to this strange behaviour that I can guess ad lib is that the individual that had gone to school intentionally erased their own identity in the pursuit of the new ways learnt at school.

What came off the lips of the ancients in the folktales recited by the fireside lost essence as the lips of the teacher prattled false promises of greatness into the minds of the poor illiterate child sat in the classroom under a tree. Education has two possibilities; either that it can make the individual aware of themselves and their world, or, to erase all the vital indigenous knowledge that has sustained the given people since time aborigine.
I grew up in a village where chastisement was not limited only to the family homestead, one could be smacked silly by any consenting adult if they got up to the hillbilly shenanigans little naughty boys get up to when they think no one is watching.

It was useless to go home and report to the parents that Ntate or ‘Me so and so beat you because it would mean more beating from the parents themselves if it was found out that you had got up to mischief. This instilled in one the sense that no crime could escape punishment, and also that the world is always watching one’s every move.

The current attitude that one is answerable only to their immediate family or the courts is extremist in nature in that it has erased the middle line where disputes can be settled amicably and to the benefit of everyone in the community.

The fact of the matter is that there is very little that can be reversed in terms of reparation and compensation after parties have gone to court to sort a matter that could have possibly been settled between two families or at the chief’s court.

What is simple ends up being blown out of proportion and becoming complex to deal with, and in its process, this simple factor becomes what polarises previously united parties as grudges are born.

What occurs in the private sphere of family often has the tendency to fan out into the public spheres of the community and the nation, and even parties that are not directly involved in the conflict become collateral damage once the conflicts become grudges.

What most of us are not aware of is that our deeds reverberate into the spheres of other individuals, and a figure like Moshoeshoe I knew in his acts that all he decided would in one way or another affect those immediate or away from him; thus his decision to adopt a philosophy hinged on a temperament ruled by forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration at all costs: even if it meant that he would have to sacrifice some of his interests and wishes.
It is on an individual such as our first king that one can mould their own personality, for it would really prove beneficial for the country if there were ten thousand more individuals like he was.
These are the type of individuals that think not only for their own personal gain and benefit but the welfare of the nation as a whole.
The current atmosphere in this here land is not as he had wished his country to be if the words in the history books are to be understood to the nth degree.

I was once told the simple parable of a lone tree standing in the veld. This tree survives thunder-strikes, storms, and axes, but once the insects start eating of its inner parts, it dries up and is left a lone image only good for burning.
The insects represent the little negative thoughts we let into our conscience that end up shaping our character, the little regressive habits born of cruel intention and hunger for power, and the deeds that come afterwards as an expression of our thoughts and intentions.

Once they reach this level, then it is up to us to change them into being an image we can all live with. Moshoeshoe oa Pele rid all the signs of nepotism through his demolition of the idea of the clan and the tribe; the political classes that have so far come promote it through the practice of: the party is your clan, and if do not belong to the party, you will not succeed.

It is a fact that most have learnt to live with, but I choose not to accept it as a long term reality for one, the people shall wake up to the reality that this state is drifting into the netherworlds of oblivion where our grandchildren shall never get to know who we are.
It is already a tough enough job to reclaim what Moshoeshoe freely gave; a united nation that chooses to focus on the most important aspect of who we really are: Basotho.

What seems to be in fashion is the use of Morena Moshoeshoe’s philosophies just for the sake of promoting some money spinning scheme, but the deeds are far from the generosity he displayed in his lifetime.

The declaration of Moshoeshoe as the icon of peace does not seem to carry a meaning beyond the mere proclamation of the words said about his person and his deeds. This means that he has reached a level where only a select few individuals actually understand what it is he meant when he gathered different clans into one nation.

The popular trend these days is for one to sing non-ending poems about their clan on radio and on every other platform, but of the most important clan name, that is, the Basotho clan; one hardly hears anything. This means that the old practice where children would be made aware of the importance of the nation’s name has been lost and needs to be recovered.

The individualistic tendencies of the day should be done away with and in their place, the inculcation of the essence of who we really are (Bashoeshoe) should be inculcated into the minds and the psyches of the current budding generation.
That we shall go on to declare monarchic rule as archaic is merely a weak defence for the failures of political governance in the past 50 years. Re Bashoeshoe!

That is a fact we cannot deny even when we put on our fake hair extensions and speak in nasal twangs just to prove how educated we are. We are not this monstrous creation we have become. Re Bashoeshoe! I am the child of Moshoeshoe before anything else.

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