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Stories from the diaspora



The current migration of young people from Africa to the West for economic reasons has given birth to a rich literary tradition that tries to open up challenges and even opportunities brought in by this mass movement.

I cannot help but see that in Diaspora literature there is an antagonistic relationship between the destination and the home left behind by the one who travels. This is more closely related to the old but constantly resurfacing ‘centre-periphery’ theory. Generally the western city is the centre and the home of those in the Diaspora is the periphery.

The characters in these works are constantly aware that they are in foreign territory. Their activities show that they are constantly looking back home in the periphery, which in turn is either checkmating them or aiding them down a rebellious path from the culture and norms of home.
Western space causes a lot of havoc on the body and mind of the traveller.
In Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s short story ‘Let’s Tell This Story Properly,’ a Manchester-based Ugandan lawyer, Nnam, gets married to her country man, Khayita without full knowledge of Khayita’s background.

Nnam had all along been told that Khayita is divorced with his wife back in Uganda and that there are only two children from that marriage.
Khayita had left the children in Uganda with their mother but his relationship with the mother had ended long before he met Nnam. On several occasions Nnam asks Khayita to bring the children to Britain but he says, “Kdt, you don’t know their mother; the children are her cash cow.”
Still Nnam is uneasy about these children being deprived of their father. She insists Khayita rings them every weekend. She even buys him phone cards. Whenever he visits Uganda, she sends them clothes.

On a different note, Nnam had bought a nine-acre tract of land in rural Kalule before she met Khayita. After decades in Manchester, she dreamt of retiring in rural Uganda. But when Khayita came along, he suggested that they buy land in Kampala and build a city house first instead.
“Why build a house we are not going to live in for the next two decades in rural Kalule where no one will rent it?” Khayita reasoned. “The rent from the city house will be saved to build the house in Kalule.’ It made sense. They bought a piece of land at Nsangi.

But Nnam’s father, who purchased it for them, knew that most of the money came from his daughter. He put the title deed in her name. When Khayita protested that he was being sidelined, Nnam told her father to put everything in Khayita’s name.

But all hell breaks loose when Khayita dies in the bathroom in Manchester. The body is sent back to Uganda for burial and when Nnam gets there, she discovers that Khayita has several wives and the eldest actually stays in the house that Nnam bought! They think it is Khayita’s house.

Initially Nnam is barred from attending the funeral because Khayita’s people do not recognise her as traditionally married. However, some of the few women mourners protest and Nnam and all she had done for the dead man. The women help the community to retell the story properly.
The dead man’s family eventually recognises Nnam. This event changes

Nnam a lot and she turns the memory of Khayita upside down. She starts to look for signs of his ingratitude in everything he did or said in the past.
When she gets back in Manchester, Nnam starts to destroy all the household items that remind her of her time with her lying husband.

Let’s Tell This Story Properly,’ is Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s story from her 2019 collection of short stories with the same title. The collection has stories centred on the lives of Ugandans in Britain. Makumbi is a Ugandan novelist and short story writer. She has a PhD in Creative Writing from Lancaster University and her doctoral novel, The Kintu Saga, won the Kwani Manuscript Project in 2013.

The second story from the Diaspora is “Missing out,” a short story by Leila Aboulela of Sudan. It is the story about Majdy, a Sudanese man working on his PhD in London, and his wife Samra, a devout Muslim woman who left her family to join Majdy in London. ‘Missing Out’ draws comparisons between Khartoum and London through the contrasting perspectives of husband and wife. It also presents themes of religion, political instability, and adapting to a new culture.

The life of Samra in London when she visits Majdy after their marriage, is telling about the reaction of an ordinary outsider to London. As soon as Samra gets into her husband’s tiny room in London, she asks, ‘Where is your prayer mat?’ indicating that she is steadfast about religion and tradition in a space in which these things no longer matter greatly.

In contrast, the learned husband, Majdy, was already lying in bed enjoying his return to that particular quiet of London, which he loved much and he was thankful that it was no Khartoum which “had been grinding around him in a perpetual hum and now that humming sound was pleasantly absent.”

All of a sudden, Samra needs to find the direction of Mecca for her prayers, something that Majdy had not yet worked out after such a long stay in London. Then immediately, Samra snaps at Majdy, ‘I can’t believe it,’ she said. ‘You’ve been here a whole year without praying?’

When the prayer book is finally bought for her, Samra is stunned that due to the European timelines, the frequency of her prayers will be either far apart or too close, depending on seasons. So in winter she would be rushing to pray one prayer after the other and in the summer, there would be hours and hours between afternoon and sunset. Here in London, Majdy argued, praying was a distraction, an interruption and, most of all because of the changing times that followed the movement of the sun rather than the hands of the clock, “praying was inconvenient.”

In their cramped room, Samra’s prayer mat took up a large portion of the floor, the old tobe she covered herself with dropped over it in a coiled heap. She felt she was out of place but continued to follow her own course, her own obligations, keen to preserve this practice even though she was away from home.

And yet Majdy wanted her to enjoy lively, civilised London. He wanted her to be grateful to him for “rescuing” her from “the backwardness of Khartoum.” He thought that, like him, she would find London difficult at first and then settle down. But the opposite happened. During the first months, she showed the enthusiastic approval of the tourist. Enjoyed looking at the shops, was thrilled at how easy all the housework was. She could buy meat already cut up for her. There were all these biscuits and sweets to choose from and they were not expensive at all. Even the pharmacies were stocked so full of medicine in so many different colours and flavours that she almost longed to be ill. Every object she touched was perfect, quality radiated from every little thing.

It was the continuity that she found most alien. It rained and people lifted up umbrellas and went their way; the shelves in the supermarket would empty and fill again. The postman delivered the mail every day.

Majdy loudly attacked the lifestyle in Khartoum and indicated why he would not like to work there: ‘Number one, I will never, with the salary the university pays its lecturers, be able to afford us a house or a flat of our own. Unless I steal or accept bribes and there is not much opportunity for either in my kind of work. We would probably live with my parents; my mother would get on your nerves sooner or later. You will complain about her day and night and you will be angry with me because you expect me to take your side and I don’t. Number two, how will I ever get to the souk of Umdurman with no petrol? And there is unlikely to be any electricity for your fan. The last thing, why do you assume that nothing pleases me better than drinking tea and gossiping with the neighbour? This is exactly the kind of waste of time that I want to get away from. That whole atmosphere where so-called intellectuals spend their time arguing about politics! Every lecturer (in Sudan) defined by his political beliefs, every promotion depending on one’s political inclination and not the amount of research he’s done or the papers he’s published…”

Eventually Samra cannot stand London. She returns home in a huff, leaving Majdy behind!
This story appeared in Granta magazine in July 2010. Leila Aboulela is the author of the story collection Coloured Lights, and of a number of novels, including The Translator, Minaret and The Kindness of Enemies.
The third story from the diaspora is from 2020 from a UK-based Zimbabwean writer, Andrew Chatora. It is his debut novella, Diaspora Dreams.

The main character, Mr Kundai Mafirakureva, is following up on his teacher-wife, Kay in England. Her pregnancy is now very advanced and Kundai has come to be with the beautiful Kay in her time of need, something far away from Chikwava’s single minded man in Harare North.
But Kundai walks late. He does not know that he has in fact come to ‘school.’ He does not know that he is coming to the UK to learn about what women can do, sometimes, to their unsuspecting men when the survival instincts rise above love ties. If you are used to the many novels that dwell on how men typically abuse women, then this book is something else.

From the moment Kundai from N133A Dangamvura, Mutare, manages to secure a visa at Heathrow, a whirlwind takes over. Husband and wife are on new turf. This is the UK. Their constant power struggles over which relatives should receive money from the UK and who should not, begin in earnest. Traditional African filial ties are on trial.

Kay constantly reminds Kundai that he is just a black man, anyway and that black men in the UK have no favorable recourse to the law.
“Kundai, remember, you are just a black man in the UK.”
On several occasions when they have a row, the British police are called to the house and they come with a clear assumption that when a black man is in a quarrel with a woman, it must just be him who is in the wrong. They are ready to assume judge and jury. They often advise Kundai to either come to the station with them or go put up somewhere else for the night. The stereotypes run deep and Kundai is walking down a well laid script.

The climax of their fights with Kay comes when Kundai notices that Kay’s mother, vaFugude, has the temerity to use DHL to send love potions or concoctions to Kay from her sangomas, all the way from Zimbabwe! These mixtures are to be used on Kundai so that he becomes a compliant husband. An avid believer in seers, medicine men and dark mystical forces, vaFugude makes it her specialty to consult these darker, underworld forces on behalf of her daughter, Kay.

Everything becomes a power issue with Kay. From sex to normal conversation, she has to have the last word. Their divorce is tumultuous and tends to prove to Kundai that the British legal system is rather impatient with the protestations of men folk in these matters. Kundai has to go to court a record eleven times, to be allowed mere contact with his children. This involves meeting periodically with the children under observation, in a neutral empty hall. The children become tormented and disgusted. They have a distant look in their eyes.

In search of comfort, Kundai goes on to cohabit with a white workmate, Zettie, whom he calls ‘a stunning looker.’ Zettie is a young liberal-minded white girl from an affluent Buckinghamshire family. She appears to be the answer to Kundai’s questing spirit. She quickly learns to cook traditional Zimbabwean dishes and tries to speak Shona. She wants to be the ideal wife to an African man far away from Africa. But on their first visit to Zimbabwe, Zettie falls for and gets impregnated with Kundai’s cousin, Kian! They hit it off straightaway with Kian, as they both sit long drawn-out hours on the veranda at the Vumba homestead, downing lagers and continuously chain smoking weed, as if they have known each other for ages. Once more, things fall apart for Kundai.

Kundai quickly moves on. He does not want to be alone. He hooks up with a woman on an online dating website. She is a Zimbabwean called Jacinda. They quickly get married and Jacinda joins Kundai in the UK. In no time, she starts to treat Kundai to the bitterest and scariest lesson of his life. You read on with a numbed face!

Kundai loses it all and his subsequent charmed incantations and chants while in an English madhouse, are the most revealing part of this novel. As a result, Diaspora Dreams could be of interest to those who study the male psyche and manhood. The losing black male is still a dark area, rich with distances to be traveled and depths to be probed.

Andrew Chatora received an MA in Media, Culture and Communication from UCL. When he is not writing, he is working on his PhD thesis on Digital Piracy, with Birmingham City University’s School of Media and English. His second novel, Where The Heart Is, was released last month. It is also about life of African couples in the Diaspora.

Memory Chirere

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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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