Connect with us

Insight

Remembering Motuba

Published

on

One Facebook comedian recently wrote, “They should remove Khotso Pula Nala below our Coat of Arms and replace it with Ho tla Loka.”
I nearly laughed when I read that post but quickly stopped as I came to my senses. This is because Khotso Pula Nala is one of the most important phrases in Lesotho despite the fact that for a long time the country has not had peace and prosperity.

Many of the stories we read or listen to have demonstrated beyond any shadow of doubt that Lesotho’s peace has been greatly disturbed. Maybe we indeed need to think about our slogan as a country. We should either change it or change the ways we currently do things.
Lately we have been complaining about police brutality. Many suspects have died in police custody. We may not know exactly what happened in those police cells but we know for a fact that people have died.

The police have given their versions on how the suspects died, ranging from suffering from extreme heat in the cells to those that were already ill before they got into their custody. These stories and many others are a reminder to some people of what they have lost and of the justice they never got.
Among the people that will always wonder what happened to their loved ones at the hands of the police is the Motuba family. This is the family of Edgar Mahlomola Motuba, an editor of Leselinyane la Lesotho newspaper who was murdered on September 7, 1981. His body and the bodies of the friends he was with were found at a village called Siloe in Mohale’s Hoek, a village that is more than 100 kilometres from Morija where he worked and more than 300 kilometres from his home town of Butha Buthe.

I was reminded of Motuba’s cruel death by a social media post by his son Tabai. On Saturday 7 September, (the anniversary of Motuba’s killing) his son wrote about the events that culminated in the death of his father.
He also mentioned how he was, as young as he was, told about the death of his father. His story is one of a child who grew up broken-hearted. Crying for the love of the father that left him too soon in his life. Crying for not actually knowing what really transpired that fateful day in September.

What is even more tear-jerking is that at the time of Motuba’s murder his wife was pregnant with their last daughter who was born three months after her father was killed. I wanted to comment with the “Ho tla loka Mosia phrase” (meaning all will be well) on that post.
But before I could write it, I wanted to put myself in the shoes of the young girl who was born after her father had already died. I could fathom what went on in her mind as she grew older.

I do not know the questions she asked her mother after school when they had been asked to mention their parents in an essay about herself. It is also difficult to understand how she responded to those elderly men riding on horseback through the village who always asked for the whereabouts of one’s father because they wanted to one day come and pay bohali for their sons.
Moreover, I vividly remembered that I have never heard of the conviction of people who were responsible for their father’s death. As such I felt that the “Ho tla loka” would have been misdirected and of no value to the situation.
How could I say all will be well when Motuba’s family has not been accorded justice 38 years after the death of their father?

For those who may not know, Motuba was a newspaper journalist and editor. He wrote hard-hitting stories during the trying political times of the State of Emergency (Qomatsi). That was a time when freedom of speech and expression was not a right in Lesotho.
As such, his stories often led him to be at loggerheads with law enforcement agencies, a situation that allegedly headed to his demise at a very tender age of just 38 years.

Today, unlike during the time of Motuba and his colleagues, we are living under a democratic government. However, some things have remained exactly as they were 40 years ago. We still see the media being persecuted when they write what the government does not like.
So many years after Motuba’s death, we are living in a country where the government still shuts down radio stations because they do not broadcast what they want. Newspapers are punished by not being given government advertisements because they do not dance to the tune of the government of the day.
When will this ever stop?

I believe it is time that our government starts treating the media with the respect it deserves. The media should be allowed to be the government watchdog. They should not be persecuted directly or indirectly for playing their role.
I am still hopeful that one day, there will be a government that will find out what really happened to Motuba and his friends. We need a government that will understand the importance of the media as a stakeholder in governance matters instead of treating it as an enemy.

Kelello Rakolobe

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Insight

The Joker Returns: Conclusion

Published

on

Last week I was talking about how jokes, or humour generally, can help get one through the most desperate situations (although it’s like taking a paracetamol for a headache; a much, much stronger resort is faith). I used the example of how Polish Jews, trapped and dying in the Warsaw ghetto, used humour to get them through day by day.

A similar, though less nightmarish, situation obtains in today’s Nigeria. Conditions there are less hellish than those of the Warsaw ghetto, but still pretty awful. There are massive redundancies, so millions of people are jobless. Inflation is at about 30% and the cost of living is sky-rocketing, with the most basic foodstuffs often unavailable. There is the breakdown of basic social services.

And endemic violence, with widespread armed robbery (to travel by road from one city to another you take your life in your hands) and the frequent kidnapping for ransom of schoolchildren and teachers. In a recent issue of the Punch newspaper (Lagos) Taiwo Obindo, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Jos, writes of the effects of economic hardship and insecurity on his people’s mental health.

He concludes: “We should see the funny side of things. We can use humour to handle some things. Don’t take things to heart; laugh it off.”

Professor Obindo doesn’t, regrettably, give examples of the humour he prescribes, but I remember two from a period when things were less grim. Power-cuts happened all the time — a big problem if you’re trying to work at night and can’t afford a generator.

And so the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) was universally referred to as Never Expect Power Always. And second, for inter-city travel there was a company called Luxurious Buses. Believe me, the average Lesotho kombi is a great deal more luxurious (I can’t remember ever having to sit on the floor of one of those).

And because of the dreadful state of Nigerian roads and the frequent fatal crashes, Luxurious Buses were referred to as Luxurious Hearses.

Lesotho’s newspaper thepost, for which I slave away tirelessly, doesn’t use humour very much. But there is Muckraker. I’ve always wondered whether Muckraker is the pen-name of a single person or a group who alternate writing the column.

Whatever, I’d love to have a drink with him / her/ them and chew things over. I like the ironic pen-name of the author(s). Traditionally speaking, a muckraker is a gossip, someone who scrabbles around for titbits (usually sexual) on the personal life of a celebrity — not exactly a noble thing to do.

But thepost’s Muckraker exposes big problems, deep demerits, conducted by those who should know and do better — problems that the powerful would like to be swept under the carpet, and the intention of Muckraker’s exposure is corrective.

And I always join in the closing exasperated “Ichuuuu!” (as I do this rather loudly, my housemates probably think I’m going bonkers).

Finally I want to mention television satire. The Brits are renowned for this, an achievement dating back to the early 1960s and the weekly satirical programme “TW3” (That Was The Week That Was). More recently we have had “Mock the Week”, though, despite its popularity, the BBC has cancelled this.

The cancellation wasn’t for political reasons. For decades the UK has been encumbered with a foul Conservative government, though this year’s election may be won by Labour (not such very good news, as the Labour leadership is only pseudo-socialist). “Mock the Week” was pretty even-handed in deriding politicians; the BBC’s problem was, I imagine, with the programme’s frequent obscenity.

As an example of their political jokes, I quote a discussion on the less than inspiring leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer. One member of the panel said: “Labour may well have a huge lead in the polls at present, but the day before election day Starmer will destroy it by doing something like accidentally infecting David Attenborough with chicken-pox.”

And a favourite, basically non-political interchange on “Mock the Week” had to do with our former monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. Whatever one thinks about the British monarchy as an institution, the Queen was much loved, but the following interchange between two panellists (A and B) was fun:

A: Is the Queen’s nickname really Lilibet?
B: Yes, it is.
A: I thought her nickname was Her Majesty.
B: That’s her gang name.

OK, dear readers, that’s enough humour from me for a while. Next week I’m turning dead serious — and more than a little controversial — responding to a recent Insight piece by Mokhosi Mohapi titled “A reversal of our traditions and culture.” To be forewarned is to be prepared.

Chris Dunton

Continue Reading

Insight

Reading, writing and the art of reflection

Published

on

There is a close thread that runs through what you reflect on, what you read and what sticks in your mind. It’s almost a cyclic process with regards to how all these processes unfold. Today, in this installment we focus on the thread between reading, reflection and writing.

This appears a bit cumbersome to explain. But let’s simplify it. Let’s begin with a beautiful poem which encompasses what we have so far spoken about. Here we are! The poem is penned by “Tachibama Akemi.” It goes:

It is a pleasure
When, rising in the morning,
I go outside and
Find that a flower has blossomed
That was not there yesterday.

Seemingly, the poem is simple. But, on close analysis, it reflects very deep reflection and thoughtfulness.

The persona, in an existential fashion, reflects all about the purpose and meaning of life and his place in the overall matrix of life.

The persona carefully reflects on nature. This is what makes all this poem rustic and romantic.

The persona thinks deeply about the blossoming flowers and how the process of the growth of flowers appears almost inadvertently.

It is a poem about change, healing, the lapse of time and the changes or vissiccitudes in the life of a person are reflected creatively through imagery and poetry. We all go through that, isn’t it? We all react and respond to love, truth and beauty.

So far everything appears very interesting. Let’s just put to the fore some good and appealing thoughts. Let’s enlarge on reading, writing and reflection.

Kindly keep in mind that thoughts must be captured, told, expressed and shared through the magical power of the written word.

As a person, obviously through keeping entries in a journal, there is no doubt that you have toyed about thoughts and ideas and experiences you wish you could put across.

Here is an example you can peek from Anthony. Anthony likes writing. He tells us that in his spare time he likes exploring a lot. And, more often than not he tells us,

“I stop, and think, and then when I find something, I just keep on writing.”

So crisp, but how beautiful. Notice something interesting here; you need to stop, to take life effortlessly and ponderously, as it were; observe, be attentive to your environment; formulate thought patterns and then write.

To some extent, this article builds on our previous experiences when we spoke at length about the reading process.

But how can you do it? It’s not pretty much different. I can help you from my previous life as a teacher of English Languge.

The most important skill you must cultivate is that of listening, close listening. Look at how people and events mingle.

What makes both of you happy; enjoy it. I am sure you still keep that journal in which you enter very beautiful entries. Reflect about Maseru, the so-called affluent city. So majestic!

How can you picture it in writing!

I am glad you learnt to reflect deep and write. Thank you very much. Kindly learn and perfect the craft of observing, reflecting and writing. Learn that connection. Let’s meet for another class.

Vuso Mhlanga

Continue Reading

Insight

The Joker Returns: Part One

Published

on

Don’t be put off by the title, esteemed readers; what follows has nothing to do with the Batman films. As you will be happily (or unhappily) aware, I am a big fan of jokes. There’s a common understanding that a joke is ruined if you have to explain it, and this is true, but some jokes do need a bit of background explanation. Anyway. I like jokes and I like thinking about how they work.

Many of my favourite jokes have to do with language and the way we use it. For example: “I just bought myself a thesaurus. I similar it very much.”

Other jokes have to do with human behaviour and here it is important, out of respect for others, to avoid jokes that perpetuate stereotypical ideas about gender, race, nationality, and so on. I’m afraid the following joke does depend upon a stereotype (I’ll come back to that), but here goes, after a bit of background information.

In Lesotho you have an insect called a praying mantis — stick-like, bright green, and with great bulging eyes. They are rather lovable, despite the off-putting fact that the female practices insect cannibalism; after mating, she consumes the male. So, now you’ve had your zoological primer, here goes.

Two praying mantises are getting up close and personal. The female says to the male: “before we have sex and I bite your head off, could you help me put up some shelves?”

Apologies to female readers, because, as I said, that joke perpetuates a gender stereotype, namely, that women are good with a vacuum cleaner or a dustpan and brush, but hopeless with a hammer and nails.

There are many jokes that are, as it were, much more serious than that. As I rattled on about in a couple of earlier columns, many of these are satirical — jokes that are designed to point a finger at human folly or even wickedness. In another column, titled “Should we laugh?”, I explored the question “is there any subject that should be kept out of the range of humour?”

Well, apparently not, if we take on board the following account of the Warsaw ghetto.

Historical preface first.

The Warsaw ghetto represents one of the worst atrocities in modern history. In November 1940 the genocidal Nazis rounded up all the Jews in Poland’s capital and herded them into a small sector of the city, which they euphemistically, cynically, dubbed the “Jewish Residential District in Warsaw.”

Here nearly half a million Jews were in effect imprisoned, barely subsisting on tiny food rations. An estimated quarter of a million were sent off to the death camps. An uprising against the Nazi captors was brutally crushed. Around 100 000 died of starvation or disease.

Not much to laugh about there, you might say. But then consider the following, which I’ve taken from the New York Review of Books of February 29th this year:

“In the Warsaw Ghetto in October 1941 Mary Berg, then a teenager, wrote in her diary about the improbable persistence of laughter in that hellish place: ‘Every day at the Art Café on Leszno Street one can hear songs and satire on the police, the ambulance service, the rickshaws, and even the Gestapo, [on the latter] in a veiled fashion. The typhoid epidemic itself is the subject of jokes. It is laughter through tears, but it is laughter. This is not our only weapon in the ghetto — our people laugh at death and at the Nazi decrees. Humour is the only thing the Nazis cannot understand.’”

To be concluded

Chris Dunton

Continue Reading
Advertisement

ADVERTISEMENT

Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending