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Global discrimination



When the coin is flipped for more than three spins and goes on to reveal the same odds, then one should know that the chances of it revealing anything different are pretty slim: for then the number of times the heads flip will constantly be higher than the number of times the tails will be flipped in the toss of a coin.
One could have wished that the world is a truthful place, unlike the glaring reality that is described by Dale Carnegie in his How to Make Friends and Influence People where he defines the human creature as naturally tending towards racism and self-interest.

In an elective affinity type of manner, humans gather on the basis of common interest, which forms the basis of any institution registered and unregistered; from the family to the church, from the community council to the mosque, all human institutions social, political, or religious have a common root that is found in common interest. The basis of common interest is found in personal interest that in its search for companionship finds kindred personal interests as are found in other individuals within which the single individual lives.

The basic truth is that no two people with different interests can be found sharing similar spaces on an ordinary day, they have to be forced by law to do so. But the sad thing is that the law can be broken despite its almost supernatural power to keep human minds and characters in line with the basic requirements of the intended universal good of societal living: peace.

Human society seems to have had a need to gather together since the species came into existence. Surrounded by other creatures far stronger and more ferocious than his or her hairless self, the human creature had to find ways to defend his or her life against the forces of nature, the only weapon being a more than average brain that could discern the use of tools better than the other creatures.
The brain is therefore that which makes the human being better than the other animals of the world, and being the seat of the mind, the brain helps mankind have some level of control over the other creatures. The only problem is that it is this same mind that is used by humans to oppress other humans that may be different in terms of colour, tendency, and habit.

Who appears different in terms of manners or colour of skin, affiliation, culture, religion, and lately politics is soon ostracised for their difference in behaviours considered ‘usual’ in the myriad of behaviours found in varying human societies across the globe.
People have been attacked and fatally wounded in events whose basis lies in their being different in terms of accepted norms and behaviours as are found in the human society they find themselves living at a given point in time. The lack of acceptance that we are different seems to be the lead cause when it comes to the fomenting of that undesirable and chaotic human activity: war.

It is with a kind of guarded interest that one begins to analyse the events as they unfold in the world today, and to try and trace their roots in terms of why they occur at the scale they do.
Despite having gone through two world wars preceded by extended periods of slavery, one would have thought that the human mind and society would have by this moment learned that we are all similar despite the differences that are largely external and can be attributed more to habit and circumstance than what is primal or makes us who we are.
It is not the community that we grew up in that defines who we are, it is the final achievements in the course of a lifetime that do. Though many of us would want to hold the notion that the type of religion we follow determines how we behave, the fact of the matter is that our behaviour largely finds its root in the circumstances we come across in the different moments of our lives.

In the present day political age where the idea of social mobility largely depends on affiliation, one would be tempted to think that connections to other people in the party are what keeps us progressing.
The truth however, is to the contrary, for the party we follow is merely an appendage of our self-interest, that is, we follow the party because the manifesto it presents is inclined to our personal interests and this leads to our gathering in competition with those that have an opposing view.

Politics has taken the control of almost every sphere of human society, from economics to religion, social welfare to constitutional formation. It is the political structure of the world that determines how things pan out on a regular day, and it can be safely presumed that whatever event occurs in the world can be traced back to politics, for it is politics that forms more than 90 percent of the world’s governments.
This therefore means that one should try and understand why political tendencies are as they are in terms of their primal social influences.

The most basic reality human beings gather is for reasons of personal interest, whether it be for safety or welfare, the basis to our coming together in groups is based on the primal need to protect the self and those under one’s watch who cannot fend as well for themselves.
There is no wrong in this gathering, what is wrong is when the interests of one sector of society take precedence over those of the other sectors that are existent within the given society.
It is wrong when individual opinion takes charge of the feelings of the mass with the end result being anarchy as was seen in the case of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party. One gets the feeling that the declaration the megalomaniac made that the Third Reich would last for a thousand years is panning out to be true, expressing itself in a thousand different forms.

The Rwandan genocide of 1994 received almost no visible response from the United Nations, and this can be attributed to the simple fact that Rwanda is an African state. This kind of response, if one were to break it down to the simple, finds its answer in the simple fact that the largely Eurocentric organisation saw Rwanda as just another heathen state, that it was natural for the ‘savages’ to mow each other down.
There were no wreaths for the massacred, but there were wreaths for those 15 killed in 1999 Columbine High killings, there were wreaths just a year after the Rwandan genocide in the case of the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people and injured 680 others.

There are wreaths when fatalities of wars private and large-scale occur in certain regions of the world, the silence that follows certain events of anarchy or natural disaster in other parts of the world is almost deafening, forcing one to question the verity of the seeming concern from NGOs and organisations tasked and formulated with the sole purpose of addressing the distress of fellow human beings regardless of region or religion.
The fact of the matter is that all of us are in the end just plain human, different only at a super-epidermal level, similar in all ways at the sub-epidermal level.

However, it seems that the mentalities of racism inculcated by colonialism and instituted by the Third Reich ideologies get the better of this simple understanding and fact: white begins to think it is better than black, and the latter deems itself the father of all human colours, and the war goes on non-end.
Cyclone Idia tore through Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe and left more than 215 people dead in its wake, there is utter silence from fellow SADC member states. The last two weeks have been a series of chaotic events which were all acknowledged with wreaths and it vexes one’s understanding why there are no elegiac words or eulogies for fellow brothers and sisters that perished due to natural disasters that may befall any one nation at any point without forewarning. There is a definition that can be forwarded: the history of violence we were subjected to actually made us callous to the realities of fellow humans that live around us.

Scattered on the basis of clan and tribe, it will take some serious communal introspection for the African and the human being to come to grips with the fact that there are others who are equally as important living on the continent and the globe. We shall surely regress if certain events are dismissed on the basis of location and race.
A disaster is a disaster regardless of where and to who it happened, it does not make sense why acknowledgement of the fact should be on the basis of tribe, clan and country.

An Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed six minutes after take-off, killing all 157 passengers and crew on board, and the United Nations spoke because some of its workers were among the dead, there was a lot of outcry for the departed, but it was not as much as the outpouring of grief that followed the killing of 50 Islam devout by the lone gunman Brendan Tarrant in Christchurch, New Zealand. There were wreaths laid as far as Cape Town in South Africa. I do not remember seeing any laid for the 157 in the same city.

There is always some type of double standard when it comes to disasters on the African continent, and the truth of the fact is that they are often hushed up like shameful wrongs (remember the xenophobic attacks of South Africa if you have any doubts).

We have not come to grips with our humanity, that it is fallible, that it is futile, and that we need to care more than we presently do if the double standards with which events of tremendous magnitude are currently treated are to be done away with. Events are publicised based more on their location than on their real impact on the lives of the global citizens.

The world fails to rid itself of the scourge of violence and chaos because it is in effect a highly racialised entity. The crash could not be given the attention it deserves because it occurred in Ethiopia, but the gunman’s killing spree actually disturbed a ‘peaceful’ New-Zealand.

There is a clear anti-Muslim mentality ever since 9/11 attacks, and the world has not been doing enough to curb the rising hatred towards other fellow humans on the basis of religion, culture or set of beliefs. The self-professed fascist (Brendan Tarrant) who killed 50 people in Christchurch will soon be forgotten as his predecessors in Norway (Anders Behring Breivik who killed 77 and injured 319 in 2011), and Sweden (Anton Lundin Petterson who killed 4 in 2015).
Breivik was sentenced to only 21 years in ‘preventive custody’ for his heinous act, and nothing was said thereafter. 21 years is an insult to the families of the victims and the human society at large because it means that we live in a world where hate will go on to fuel revenge.

The events in Christchurch have been followed up by those in Utrecht in the Netherlands. All of the attacks are linked to the cliché of the moment ‘terrorism’. Though it only became popular with Osama bin Laden’s 2001 Twin Tower attacks, it had been on the vocabulary for some long period before then. From Timothy Mc Veigh to Ted Kaczynski the deed was already being done 6 to 7 seven years before bin Laden became famous for it. Perhaps it is terrorism, but one begins to realise that it is now used for a more morbid purpose, to gloss over the deeper dangers of racism, psychosis, deep-sat hate for others and religious intolerance.

There is no terrorism, there is only the reality that some figures tend to think they are better than everyone else as taught by the system within which they live. We live in a world that lives in hate.
The freedoms of the present times are actually chains meant to tie down the minds of the gullible. Freedom means rights, and it also means that one should honour their responsibilities as well. The global powers that be always dictate to everyone how they should live as countries, but they forget that it is also their responsibility to acknowledge the full brevity or expanse of any deed that impairs the peaceful progress of humanity as a nation and a citizen of the world.

That the ICC shall try and sentence African dictators only is a double standard of the worst kind, all are equal before the eyes of the law, and events like the mass killing of people on the basis of race, ethnicity, or religion should be tried in The Hague and not the state courts where leniency seems to be the call of the day when it comes to trying serious cases of criminality.
How one who tinkers with war and instability should be declared as only ‘unstable’ is a mere escape from the truth. The discrimination with which Africa and the Third World has been treated should come to an end.

By Tsépiso Mothibi

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Harnessing imagery in writing



All writing is imaginative. Every piece of writing reflects the artistry and mental resourcefulness of the writer.

Effective writing also reflects the colourfulness of the writer’s mind and heart; their ability to paint the world to the reader and their capacity or facility of taking the reader with them to beautiful mental and physical and picturesque journeys.

In this piece we focus on how we can hone our creative abilities through the use of imagery and the effect of using colourful and evocative imagery in writing. Let’s go! What if I say, “Learn to prepare wisely and meticulously in time,” you will still grasp the message in a very clear way, isn’t it? But would that be interesting and colourful?

But what if we put it in a colourful manner, “Make hay whilst the sun still shines,” you really grasp the colour and the full import of the message, isn’t it? That’s what imagery does to your writing; it allows you to feel, touch and smell what you are reading.

There is no doubt that the proverb, “make hay whilst the sun still shines” has taken you to the countryside, in a farming community. You hear the bleating of sheep and the neighing of horses.

At the same time, you visualise the good farmer gracefully at work, cutting grass which he is piling in orderly stacks, preparing fodder for his animals in the future. The sun’s rays buoy his attempts and ensure that the hay is prepared with care and colour.

Thus, the point of good imagery is to capture in full detail a world that allows the reader to grasp and enjoy using their five senses. Let me give you a small but beautiful extract which further drives home the point.

“With his machete he detached a brittle clod, broke it on a stone. It was full of dead twigs and the residue of dried roots that he crushed in his fingers.

“Look, there isn’t anything left. The water has dried up in the very entrails of the mountain. It’s not worth while looking any further. It’s useless.” Then, with sudden anger, “But why, damn it! Did you cut the woods down, the oaks, the mahogany trees, and everything that grow up there? Stupid people with no sense!”

Thando struggled for a moment to find words. “What else could we do, brother? We cleared it to get new wood. We cut it down for framework and beams for our hearts. We repaired the fences around our fields. We didn’t know ourselves. Ignorance and need go together, don’t they?”

The sun scratched the scorched back of the mountain with its shining fingernails. Along the dry ravine the earth panted. The countryside, baked in drought, began to sizzle.”

What a colourful piece! The extract aptly paints a countryside’s pulse and the rhythms of seasonal and climate change and how that affects the livelihood patterns of the inhabitants. Have you seen how the sun has been endowed with human-like features?

And the description of the earth assuming human-like features, for instance, “the earth panted.” No doubt, you have seen the earth subdued by the intensity of heat in a way that is similar to a person who is panting.

To paint excellent images the writer needs to have the gift of observation. He/she should be able to observe quite a panorama of things around him and immerse them in the soil of their imagination. Let’s see another good extract where you can discern the link between good images, excellent description and the power of observation.

“It’s in the morning, the fourth watch, to borrow from biblical discourse. It’s damp outside. I brace the slicing chilly weather to go outside. There is a drizzle, constant showers seeping deep down. I pace up at least 400 metres from my hood. I see lined-up, almost cubicle-like houses.

I keep walking, with a spring in the step buoyed by the damp aura wrought by the incessant downpours. I take a deep breath, and step back as it were.

I want to be deliberate. I want to take in everything in my environment; the colours, the diverse hues and plethora of landscape contours. I notice a woman, almost in her forties, from my eye-view assumptions. She is grabbing a basket clutched tenaciously almost close to her big bosom.

She is going to Mbare Musika, the famous agricultural market wherein she intends to buy items for her stall. Behind her, there is a big strapped baby covered in velvet. As she briskly walks, I see her jumping a poodle of water as she observes her stall. I also observe a man, clad in sportswear running trying to cure a big belly.

As I keep watching, I see a woman sweeping her small veranda. I keep walking. I see a woman, plump tending to her garden. She seems animated by the drizzle, thanks to the rains.

I hear another woman, especially her piercing voice, she is selling floor polish. Her voice fills the air. As I drown in the sweet voice, I notice a man staggering. He is filthy. He could have calloused the whole night. He is holding a Black Label quart, speaking gibberish in the air. I keep watching.”

So here were are! Writing is a matter of painting with words, carving images and allowing the reader to experience the impact of all the senses so as to fully grasp the sense of what is put across.

Vuso Mhlanga teaches at the University of Zimbabwe. For almost a decade and half he taught English language and Literature in English at high school.

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Politicians’ propensity to score own goals



Lesotho politicians are often in the habit of scoring own goals. For example, look at the circus that took place in the country at the opening of parliament after the winter break. These events remind me of the article that I wrote with the title ‘Scoring own goals’.

This article appeared in this publication dated March 18 – 24, 2021. It argued that Lesotho’s politicians had a propensity to score own goals.

Many say that education and academia should not involve themselves in politics. This belief is a fallacy. The two are intrinsically intertwined. Education and politics link in a complex way.

For instance, parliament is an organ that passes laws that govern and guide national education policies. The interconnectedness includes the curricula that educational institutions and schools teach. Now, if the National Assembly’s focus is misplaced, important legislative decisions may stall or be derailed by lack of action.

I must make a disclaimer though. I am not promoting any view about a political party. I am writing this article purely as a concerned citizen.

I revisit the own goal tendency of those in authority by assessing the drama that unfolded in politics and governance. I review the recent events that culminated in the failed vote of no confidence against Prime Minister Sam Matekane and his government.

I use arguments from research to demonstrate the fluidity of Lesotho’s democracy. Some politicians often take advantage of this fluidity for selfish gain. I contest that the Prime Minister and his government should treat their adversities as stepping stones to meeting their targets.

A constitution is a living document. Accordingly, to keep Lesotho’s constitution alive, current and relevant, parliament should regularly amend it.

However, in so doing, parliament must be careful that tinkering with the country’s constitution does not compromise the essence of democracy they champion. National and democratic principles must form the dogma that underpins the improvements and amendment exercises.

Personal aspirations, ambitions and creed must not underpin the amendments.

The recent events in and out of the National Assembly make one question the perceptions of the different roles players in the democratic playground in Lesotho have.

First, there was a vote of no confidence that the Speaker ruled to defer subject to the high court’s decision.

Second, there was the allegedly drunken MP’s own goal.

The third is the press conference led by the Commissioner of the Lesotho Mounted Police Services flanked by the head of the Lesotho Defence Force and the Director General of the National Security Services.

It is already a hat trick of own goals. Fourth, there was the statement of the Prime Minister claiming an attempted coup.

The fifth own goal is the moratorium that prevented parliament from holding a vote of no confidence against the Prime Minister before the lapse of three years of his inauguration.

The sixth is the practice of shirking responsibility by MPs. MPs often refer political matters to the national courts for decisions. The seventh, and the mother of all own goals, is the electoral system that Lesotho elected to pursue. The National Assembly has 120 MPs. There are 80 MPs representing constituencies and 40 proportional representatives.

The Commonwealth suggested that Lesotho review the modalities of the PR nominations. Sekatle and the Commonwealth agree that the PR system introduced plurality but at a cost. The cost is what scholars and commentators term minority rights and coalitions.

Also, it compromises accountability and transparency. It undermines the collective intelligence of the voters. Chief Jonathan warned against coalition governments by citing their instability. Political instability plagues Lesotho today.
Sekatle and the Commonwealth cited the overreliance on a threshold in awarding PR seats in parliament, cheapening them.

The PR system ballooned parliament unnecessarily. By comparison, Botswana had a population of 2.6 million in (2021). Lesotho had 2.3 million (2021). Botswana parliament currently has 65 seats, and Lesotho has 120.

A consequence emanating from the PR system in Lesotho is a hung parliament. Since 2012, there has not been an outright majority in the National Assembly. The results yielded chaos. Over that period, PMs constantly look over their shoulders. All these coalitions imploded.

Democracy is about the majority. Politicians must be persuasive to attract votes to achieve the majority. In other words, the PR system rewards failure.

The own goals cause stagnation. MPs score these own goals by serving their selfish interests. They waste time and energy on trivial things. And yet, they receive full-time salaries and earn allowances such as sittings and petrol allowances. How, then, would one explain that the external urging of parliament had to engage in the reforms exercise?

Today, reforms are lying latent. Politicians use the reform programme as an excuse for ensuring that they retain or access power. In the recent correspondences to SADC, the government and the opposition cite reforms and democracy to justify their actions. But as I write this article, there is nothing much that is happening along the lines of these very reforms. Why?

The starting point of any achievement is desire and definitiveness of purpose. The definitiveness of purpose is more than goal setting. It is one’s roadmap to achieving the overall objectives. Elsewhere, I took the definition of desire as explained by the author, Wallace Wattles.

According to Wattles, ‘Desire is possibility seeking expression, or function seeking performance’. All desires began as a thought. Expressing their desires through a manifesto is a means by which parties attempt to concretise them (their desires).

The starting point of an election campaign is the expression of political intentions and goals through manifestos. A manifesto is a public declaration of aims and policy by a political party or candidate. Political parties express their desires for what they will do in their manifestos.

After elections, these desires become the guiding principles and laws. Politically mature voters would then elect political candidates based on these manifestos.

Who instigated and drove the reforms in Lesotho? The contemporary history of Lesotho reveals that external forces pushed the reforms. Basotho merely reacted. They do not own the reform process. High on the list of their drivers are SADC, the US through AGOA and the European Union.

The practice contradicts Wattles’ definition. According to Wattles definition, desire must emanate from inside the individual, or in our case, from Basotho and be expressed outward through actions.

I do not want to comment too much about the involvement of the security agencies in politics. In my view, the relevant bodies, namely, the Law Society of Lesotho, the media and the opposition parties dealt with their involvement adequately.

Former PM Leabua Jonathan often described democracy as the government of the people by the people. But, the meaning of the construct of democracy is fluid and elusive, depending on the position of governance in Lesotho’s political arena.

Authors Hughes, Kroehler and Vander Zanden explain that democracy is a system in which the powers of government derive from the consent of the governed, namely the masses who vote, in which regular constitutional avenues exist for changing government officials.

The authors characterise the system as one which permits the population a significant voice in decision-making through the people’s right to choose among contenders for political office. Also, the system allows for a broad, relatively equal citizenship among the populace.

Lastly, it affords the citizenry protection from arbitrary state action.

Now, the question is whether the recent activities fit all the three criterias. Are the actions of the MPs who moved for the vote of no confidence in the PM’s government acting in line with Lesotho’s constitution and democracy?

This definition of democracy says that regular constitutional avenues exist for changing government officials. The no confidence vote exists in Lesotho’s constitution. But the PM and his security agencies questioned this. They claim the move by the members of the opposition to dethrone the government was a coup attempt.

The drama began when an MP from the ruling Revolution for Prosperity (RFP), Thabo Moea MP, sought an order from the High Court to delay the motion of no confidence against the Prime Minister until after the completion of the reforms process.

The opposition contests that the prayer by Moea stifles a democratic process for self-serving ends. Subsequently, the Speaker cited this impending case to defer the matter.

The constitution of Lesotho stipulates that the legislature is to pass laws, the executive is to approve and execute them, and the judiciary is to expound and enforce them. But a scholar, Nwafor, claims that the courts in Lesotho often intrude into the functions of the other arms of government.

Lesotho ‘s constitution confers powers on three arms of government in such a manner as would ensure cooperation and coordination in governance. The courts ought to bear in mind that the effective discharge of the responsibilities of the courts largely depends on the effectiveness of the other arms of government.

Nwafor brings up the issue of encroachment. He asserts that the powers of the different arms of government in such a manner would guarantee a coordinated discharge of government responsibilities to the nation. But, parliament overly relies on the courts to make political decisions. The practice encourages the risk of overreaching.

The PR electoral system denies Basotho the right to choose their representatives among contenders for political office. Instead, parties ‘hand pick’ these representatives in the pretext of the constituency elections outcomes. Often, these PR members are the ones who lost their constituency elections.

These are the politicians whose constituencies rejected them. They represent their parties and not the voters. They do not account to the voters.

Both the PM and the opposition made presentations to SADC. They overlooked the electorate. Why would SADC have power and not the electorate that elected the politicians to office? Running to SADC, an outside organisation, to settle Lesotho’s internal problems is not a solution. It is scoring an own goal. Lesotho, with its 57 years of independence, should be able to solve its internal problems.

Nonetheless, I have a completely different take from Mokhothu on the issue of the protest march by the RFP. It is unimportant to find the instigator of the protest march. The people to persuade are the voters, the people who put governments into power in a democracy, not external bodies such as SADC.

Napoleon Hill’s creed reads: ‘Every adversity brings a seed of equivalent or more benefit’. Any business person knows that business is a solution to an economic problem. So, the PM and his colleagues in his party who are business people must look at the adversity emanating from the opposition as a seed of equivalent or better benefit.

The government must dig deep to find how the problem may benefit them.
They must identify their failures and use them as stepping stones to success.

Elsewhere, I presented the views of an American scholar and activist, Anderson, who suggested that marginalised communities must cease granting candidates blank cheques. Instead, the electorate must draw their expectations and demand the campaigning party or candidate promise to meet them.

This practice is called quid pro quo. It enforces accountability and transparency.

You scratch my back, and I scratch yours. Quid pro quo is an example of one of the universal laws that demonstrate reciprocity. Reciprocity is the practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit. The universal law is the Law of Cause and Effect. It means that for every effect, there is an equal cause. You plant a seed, so shall you reap.

Both the government and the opposition ran to SADC for help. Remember, Matekane is a successful businessman. He has, on more than one occasion, explained that he wanted to use his prowess in business to take Lesotho forward. As a businessman, Matekane has faith in his ability.

Words that come to mind here include self-confidence and trust in himself. He believes in himself. Running to SADC does not display this faith in his ability to deal with problems emanating from his opposition.

Hill argues that riches, or any form of success and achievement, begin with a thought. Faith removes limitations. Matekane must apply his faith as a businessman to become a successful politician.

To summarise, the article explores the events emanating from the fiasco of the no-confidence motion. The individuals who ought to champion constitutional democracy in Lesotho betrayed Basotho by scoring hordes of own goals.

I explored the meaning of concepts that helped me unpack some of these own goals. These were democracy, faith and desire. Also, I coupled these with scholarly research views on the constitution of Lesotho.

I contest that while the opposition may argue that they are within their rights to ruffle the government, the PM must use different tactics. He must display faith and confidence in himself and trust Basotho.

The move to influence the voters to back him deserves a big WOW! He must hold more campaigns to persuade voters to support his government. Voters may make or break him.

MPs waste time in discussing trivial issues that have no bearing on the national agenda. Often, they focus on self-serving matters. The RFP promised to refocus Lesotho towards national development and improving the quality of life.

The article also shows that the PR system does not benefit Lesotho. It diminishes accountability and the principle of quid pro quo. Also, it ballooned the numbers in parliament unnecessarily. It increased political instability by forging formations of coalition.

Politicians must refrain from abusing the judiciary by making them make political decisions. Involving the courts in making political decisions leads to encroachment. Encroachment defies democracy.

In conclusion, Matekane must not allow his detractors to derail his mandate. The same is true for the opposition leaders who attempt to dethrone him. No party campaigned on removing sitting PMs.

Also, the MPs must take the responsibilities that Basotho entrusted them with. It is high time that they make the political decisions instead of shifting them to the judiciary or external bodies.

Matekane, his business associates and technocrats in his government should revisit attributes that made them successful. One such attribute is their faith in their abilities. They must remember that riches (and success) begin with a thought, and faith removes limitations.

Dr Tholang Maqutu


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Painting mood effectively



Writing is not different from beautiful artwork. Just like a skilled painter holding a brush with its broad strokes, the writer occupies the same place and vocation in life. Writing is a work of painting life’s experiences, its hues and beautiful unfolding internal journeys. In this piece we focus on mood and how it can be achieved. Many students struggle with understanding and contemplating the scope and ambit of mood in writing.
It is hard to define and frame the scope of mood in writing. What really constitutes mood? Generally, mood encapsulates the totality of the “air” or “spirit” or “aura” that a certain work of art evokes in the human mind, feeling or sensibility. There is a certain dominant feature or streak associated with a certain work of art, place or person.

There is something which is evoked in our hearts which is associated with a certain place, person or event. Every place or event or person carries or imbues with him or her a certain mood or sensibility; and there is a panorama of sensibilities; for instance, a happy or sombre or whimsical mood. We will now focus on a certain extract and discern how it paints mood.

“He quickly rights himself and keeps walking, but there is an unsteadiness to his knees. He has been given many looks in this quarter – dirty ones, blank ones, sympathetic ones, annoyed ones. For the most part, he had learned to tolerate those than can be tolerated, and ignore those that should be ignored, but the look this woman gave him is not a look one gives to humans but to flies, ticks, cockroaches, fleas…Thato feels anger, then humiliation, then something nameless. If he were in his own country he would turn and confront the woman; but now he’s hurt, wounded, a part of him wishing he were invisible. Breathing evenly, he walks with care, only lifting his eyes once he reaches his own quarters, among his own people. He proceeds to his shack. He could stop by Thapelo’s, his neighbour, where he knows that men and women are already congregated to watch videos from home. Yet, no matter the promise of good fellowship and laughter, Thabo does not join them. Watching videos is a form of forgetting; the 2008 elections, the police with batons, the soldiers with guns, the militia with machetes. Do you remember? Limbs broken. Roofs blazing. I remember.”

This extract is characterised by the intensity of feeling and evokes feelings of sadness, despair and pain. The excerpt paints a harrowing and blood-curdling account which produces a sombre, dull and subdued mood. Thato, the protagonist in the story is in a foreign land. He was impelled to leave his country as a result of political violence which saw many people lose limbs and lives. He feels lonely and unwanted in the foreign land. He feels lost and alienated.

There are sentiments of xenophobia expressed through the glances of citizens of the foreign country he is in. Even if he were to entertain himself together with his countrymen residing in that foreign land, Thato still felt a deep and nagging feeling of being an outcast. Thus, we have made very deep and broad descriptions of the circumstances in which the protagonist finds himself with a view to demonstrate how mood is created in a narrative. The creation of mood feeds into the description of the character’s circumstances, his mindset and the space and place in which he finds himself.

Mood, as we have demonstrated from the portrayal of Thato’s experience, has a link with pathos. Pathos is that streak of sadness which pervades a story and creates empathy in the reader. The aim of effective writing is to move the reader and to impel him towards certain sensibilities which are of an affective kind. Mood, when effectively created, allows the reader to grasp meaning which is not directly said in the story or composition.

Meaning in a story is an interaction between the words in a text as read together with the effect of the words, the tone used and the created mood. There are certain words in a text which do not just communicate, but etches in the reader’s mind certain thoughts, viewpoints and feelings. These words would be so evocative. One such word describes Thato’s deepest sense of alienation in the extract given above.

The word describes him as nursing a wish of invisibility, he felt or wished he were ‘invisible.’ His wish for invisibility is of great importance. It portrays how he was deeply affected by the loathing expressed in the eyes of those looking at him with hate and disdain.

So, here we are! Creating a mood is a craft which takes time to acquire and hone. But when achieved, it makes effective reading and allows the reader to get meaning which goes beyond the text.

Vuso Mhlanga teaches at the University of Zimbabwe. For almost a decade and half he taught English language and Literature in English at high school. Send your comments and questions to:

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