We’ve one Lesotho and must make it work

We’ve one Lesotho and must make it work

Ke tsoha ke hlolohetsoe puso ea sesole. I remember back in the day when Lesotho was under military rule, in the mid 1980’s. There was no time for bureaucracy and endless consultations and endless workshops on strategic plans.

The government was decisive, swift and straight to the point. A decision would be made, whether right or wrong,
One of the many questionable decisions that were made, was one to buy a jet named Lengau. Yes, Lesotho once had a Boeing jet. Well, it was definitely not a 747 per say but an old scrap of a jet. Sekarapa in the literal sense.
One thing I remember about it was that it was massive and it was named Lengau (cheater). I still don’t understand how a jet was named after a cheater. A more sensible name could’ve been Ntsu or Phakoe (eagle or falcon).

As I said, the jet was massive and made a lot of noise. As you can image, for some of us that lived right on the backyard (back opposite) of Moshoeshoe I International Airport, the noise that jet made was a nightmare. Le ne le bile le tsuba. There was always a tail of black smoke as it took-off and it always flew at low range.
But I remember one day, I think it was in 1988 and Lengau was preparing to land at Moshoeshoe I airport. No, I was sure that we were going to see our Maker that day.

As I said, the jet flew at low-range for one reason or the other. You can just image a jet with a sheer scale flying right above the house. On that day in particular, I was sure that it was going to crash. All I heard was, “hee lengau le’a oela.”
I remember seeing people running in opposite directions, scattering all over the village (ho phasoa-phasoa) just waiting for a big bang. The wings were moving up and down in an unstable manner as if they were hitting turbulence but the jet miraculously landed safely.

All in all, the purchase of the jet was an ill-advised decision. But a decision was made whether good or bad. A poor decision for that matter! I understand that Lengau chowed so much jet-fuel that pilots had to carry bucket loads of cash to refuel wherever they landed.
Most airports had had enough of the scrap named Lengau and banned it because it didn’t comply with aviation standards. In any case, it gave the people of Mazenod, endless stories to talk about.

Talking about Mazenod, did you know that Mazenod Primary School still does not have electricity in this day and age? I wrote about education last week and this reminds me that Mazenod Primary School still lacks electricity, computers and a library. In the year 2021! That’s how serious we are about education.
Kids learn in classrooms that do not have a single heater in winter yet ministers sit in offices that look like executive hotel rooms. If you don’t believe me, take a tour and visit the office of any minister. Ho shota bethe feela ka mono (the only thing missing is a bed). It looks like an executive hotel room yet kids learn in very cold conditions. Bana ba Molimo!

Talking about kids, my daughter was given a school project about three months ago, to make a model of a robot named Mars Rover. This is a robot that was sent to Mars by the Americans to explore any signs of life, water and soil samples.
As you can imagine, bo-teacher will give kids complicated school projects knowing very well that they will end up being done by the parents and in most cases, the fathers. Fathers suffer abuse I tell you.
So this project had been dragging for sometime and pressure was starting to mount towards the deadline. During the final week of submission, all I was told was, “Daddy, when are we building the Mars Rover?” All I could think and dream about was the Mars Rover. Jeerrr!

The project was due on a Friday and I only started to put bits and pieces together on a Wednesday because I was starting to receive bad looks. So, after dropping my daughter at school, I went straight to Hatfield, in Pretoria, to get more material for the Mars Rover, at a hardware not far from the school.
Now, as I was walking to the Hardware in the Hatfield CBD, I said, “hang on a minute, the Hatfield CBD is actually bigger than the Maseru CBD.” Which indeed is true. For the benefit of readers that may not be familiar with Hatfield, it is the central business district (CBD) of the University of Pretoria (UP). The university town of UP.

Hatfield is a town that is usually abuzz because of students and its busy nightlife. Hatfield has a bit of everything considering that it is mainly a university town. It has a Spur that has two levels (li-upstairs) and it is always packed unlike the one that was in Maseru (no comment).
Hatfield has its own micro-economy. Its own ecosystem. There are hotels, night-clubs, a Gautrain station, a mall, restaurants, filling stations and several car dealerships. Maseru only boasts of two dealerships. Two! Negating the ones tsa li-import.

Hatfield is always alive. The biggest trend of late is the construction of high-rise student apartments and some of those apartments are bespoke. A-grade! Considering that we are talking about students.
Maseru last built apartments with the likes of Letsie Flats and Devcor or Defcourt or Death-court (whatever the hell it is called).
Now, Hatfield always has an average of five cranes at any given moment. It is a constant construction site and the biggest push is the rise in demand for quality student accommodation.

All that development of student accommodation or student apartments means jobs, jobs, jobs! And that’s what successful university towns such as Stellenbosch have also demonstrated. Constant development because of the ever-changing dynamics of universities. Well, NUL is a special case and I don’t understand why. It looks like a shanty town.
Lesotho could duplicate this model that Hatfield has demonstrated, by developing three or four new universities. There is a need for a University in Hlotse named the University of Leribe. There is also a need for a University of Technology in Mafeteng named the Mafeteng University of Science and Technology.

Can you imagine a new Mafeteng with students carrying books around town and lecturers in high-heels walking to the lecture theatre? Or a city library. That would be a very refreshing sight for a change.
Lesotho also needs a new University in Morija named the University of Morija (Uni-Mo). But most importantly, Maseru could do with a mega campus named the University of Maseru. Can you imagine the economic spin-offs that these universities can create? From student accommodation, to housing for lecturers and sports facilities.

This would immediately create a middle class that Lesotho desperately needs. This would suddenly stimulate various jobs because universities operate like micro-cities. I mean, even our value system would suddenly change and maybe, Basotho can start eating out at restaurants like Spur, instead of saving up for cement and bricks.
This is how nations build a middle class. A middle class is important for growing an economy. I mean towns such as Ladybrand, Wepener (Ladybrand ea Mafeteng), Zastron, Sterkspruit are all underdeveloped because they lack a vibrant middle class.

I mean, you would never find a person reading a book or a copy of the Sunday Times over a cup of coffee or a cappuccino in Sterkspruit.
In fact, come to think about it, I have never seen a coffee shop in any of those towns. Ho itjelloa artcher le makoenya feela. Unfortunately, Maseru is also deteriorating because of a shrinking middle-class.
In closing, my computer has run out of ink. I have to take a short break from writing due to the increasing work demands. I have so many stories and ideas to share in order to shape a new Lesotho that we can all be proud of.

As someone once said, we have to strive to leave the world in a better condition from how we found it. It makes me sad that, rona Basotho, have decided to leave Lesotho in a worse-off condition to where we found it, of which is shameful.
We have only one Lesotho and we have to make it work!

‘Mako Bohloa

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