Polygamy is African, in fact, the feminist view holds the view that polygamy is a patriarchal practice that subjugates women and infringes on their rights. There is a more simplistic view that the crew playing moraba-raba hold: there are more women than men and those ones that form the extension should not be left to languish alone and lonely, stuck in spinsterhood till death. They too need to be married to someone, even if it is ‘their’ someone that they share.
I am not against both views, I am against the idea of divorce where one spouse is left for a new ‘babe’ and the children from the first marriage are abandoned by the father. Drunk in the clutches and embraces of a new marriage, many divorced men have the tendency to leave their exes stuck with the load of taking care of the children begot from the once happy union. The poor women have to then deal with the arduous task of caring for children that miss their father that has gone into the arms of the new woman and totally forgotten about them.
It is a painful experience for a child to long for what cannot be got, even more painful for the child to yearn for the love of a parent that has forgotten about them. We have the so-called democratic systems of rule and clear laws on the rights of the child with regard to the maintenance of good relations between the parent and the child. Where such laws are flawed is at the point where they draw the line between what constitutes a minor and an adult. The simple logic lies in the fact that one never stops being a child to their parent, even beyond the legal age. Father stays father till death, and this in essence means that one can consult their father as a child should at any point in their lives.
It is escapism legalised that one is considered an adult at a certain point in their lives, and this means that the chain of continuity in terms of morals and family principles is broken as the parent moves on into other relationships and the child walks on into adulthood. One can safely assume that the laws regarding childhood and adulthood should be reviewed. There are far too many runaway parents, and it is at the expense of the poor children and the processes related to social cohesion.
It is in a democratic state of the present times where one sees practices that threaten the stability of the social structure being allowed to go on unchecked. Usually clustered under the guise of progress, new age practices that have their platform on social media websites are slowly but steadily eroding the very fabric of society that keeps the basic unit that the family is together.
Minors have access to material that is not suitable for their eyes and minds on the now relatively uncontrolled World Wide Web. Individuals air dangerous opinions and views at the expense of social peace and stability, there just seems to be no control against the airing of dangerous views and opinions on social media. This has bred a culture of callouts that are in simple terms meant to shame one side for the aggrandisement of another.
It could well be right that people are granted the basic right to freedom of expression; but what if such freedom of expression is outright abused? What if details that could prove dangerous to the general stability of society and state are aired without apparent concern for the ears and minds of other citizens? The peace of the general public should in an ideal environment come before the interests of the individual. It should be understood that I am only making mention of the ‘ideal’ and know that sometimes the ideal is not easily attained.
This is where personal refrain should take the fore and anyone that feels they cannot restrain their emotion should resort to the more honourable method of personal confrontation before resorting to the bullhorn tactics of social media callouts. It is not right to use the loudhailer if one could have addressed a private issue in private. Using the loudspeaker to address a domestic affair labels the speaker as a rabble-rouser. Being demagogic about issues shall never get the individual that needs to sort a domestic matter the desired result, all it will beget is more trouble if the party being called chooses to respond in silence.
The public as aforementioned in an earlier post is basically a coward willing to follow anyone that stands out or takes the first step towards some goal or stands up against what they perceive as an injustice. Social-media has given birth to a callout culture that thrives on shaming individuals considered to have committed offences with the primary goal being to punish them. We have had such incidences in the new regime heading the Lesotho government with the last spat being in the form of voice recordings of someone supposed to be the First Daughter haranguing the current First Lady.
The accusations such an individual laid bare on social media are of a nature so serious that they threaten the peace of the state. The basic threat is in the integrity of the family she is a part of as the daughter. It is not a wise move to besmirch the image of a family that is by right meant to be the model and image of the state, for doing so may lead to the common man and woman losing their bearing in terms of how to behave in a manner that is prudent.
We are a society whose origin lies in the extended family model and this means that there are a thousand other family members to consult when there is a glitch in the machine that is the family. There are a thousand uncles, a thousand aunties, a few hundred family elders, cousins, brothers and sisters that can be asked for help when the immediate family is in feud. A series of troubles or unfortunate events can be dealt with if the family is put first, but it seems that we have become victims to a type of progress that leans more on external cultural influences than the tried and tested ways of old.
The smart-phone or device has become a platform on which those whose anger gets the better of air their dirty laundry, and the danger in the long run lies in the fact that it will wash off onto the younger generation. A disaster awaits the society that does not consider the influence of their deeds and words on the younger children who may or may not adopt the attitudes and practices of their elders. We have let technology take advantage of us not the other way round where we use technology for our benefit.
I honestly am not impressed by the expensive smart-phones Africans tote around like sceptres because the honest fact of the matter is that they are used for cheap purposes. Slander and gossip are cheap, so cheap that the high official’s daughter sees no wrong in airing dirty laundry in public with the lame defence that such audio-clips as those we heard were ‘leaked’.
The simple piece of advice I give to such an individual is that they should not be speaking private matters on a public platform because the recipients may not be as prudent about keeping such spoken secrets private, leading to the disaster one heard in the past week being sent from phone to phone via social media. The reputation of one takes a very long time to build, but it takes a second to destroy it to a point where it may prove unsalvageable.
There was an internet media platform a few years ago on which Basotho would use the most vile language to discuss issues. Similar platforms on the same website from other countries had serious issues related to economic, political and social progress to discuss. It made me wonder why a bunch of graduates (I could tell from the campus beer-hall speak that they were graduates, being a graduate myself) could find speaking about the types of private parts interesting on a public platform.
This means that our entry into the world of social media was wrong from the onset. We have seen video clips that shame individuals being shared, have heard clips that are nothing more than slander being broadcast and still, we keep silent when we should address the issue of appropriate manners and etiquette when it comes to the use of social media as a tool for courteous communication and conversation.
It is hard to get off the phone, it takes some time to see the real danger that comes with just jumping onto the social media craze gripping a large part of the general public that possess android phones and devices. The temptation is to speak one’s mind without refrain, and in a moment of passion words one may later regret may be spoken or typed. This means that one should ensure that they are in the right frame of mind before even daring to type a single word or speaking a single note on the social media platforms available. Being careful is the expected behaviour of the ruling classes, but etiquette has been lost to a large extent where campaign speeches carry on from the days of the pre-election right through the years of governance.
The usual attitude of the Lesotho politician is to discredit the next party, and the real concerns of the people come in only to pepper the verbal fisticuffs that carry on throughout the term of rule. The undemocratic manner in which our politicians have so far behaved has trickled down to the common masses where their children and their followers feel it is right to speak as they wish because of their position.
A quote from a previous article states that John Dewey (1859-1952) deems democracy a political form and method of conducting government and administration that is much broader and deeper than it is usually conceived of as; it is a way of life adopted for:
…the participation of every mature human being in formation of the values that regulate the living of men together: which is necessary from the standpoint of both the general social welfare and the full development of human beings as individuals.
Democracy grants all the individuals in society equal rights and freedoms which should be used to promote the harmonious living of all individuals living within society. One of the basic rights the mature individual has is the right to be involved in the decision-making processes that affect him or her and the community within which they live.
They in my opinion have this right by virtue of being citizens in a state where the decisions of the government they voted or did not vote into office have a direct or indirect effect on their lives. Attached to these rights, therefore, are responsibilities attached; like the responsibility to ensure and to value the safety and well-being of other members of society and their property as much as one would value their own.
It is not right that what is considered right acts in a manner that is wrong, that is, the expectation of the larger part of the citizenry should not be insulted for the aggrandisement of the humour of one individual. There has been no concern for the rights of the larger part of the population for a long time, and it has gotten to the point where all control has been lost.
It is sure to become even more popular to insult those that anger one than to discuss private matters in private. Armed with the phone, the ordinary citizen is soon to become a creature that randomly and without refrain insults anyone they feel wronged them instead of resorting to the more amicable way of discussion. Public figures fail to understand the impact they have on the ordinary folk, there needs to be lessons on proper public etiquette.
Trouble in the house on top of the hill is carried to the valley and village and the town by gravity, the Lesotho politician needs to understand this before letting go of words that could prove fatal to the stability of the land. We cannot have a country where public callouts and heckling, and harassment should be given free rein because they will at the end of the day destroy us. Apologies should be made to the public for the harrowing words they are forced to listen to.
Words that pertain to murder, adultery, and related offences should be spoken with due care in advance, otherwise the trouble at the big house may end up disturbing the peace of the commoner in the villages and towns of this here land. We have become unfeeling, apathetic, and to a large extent condescending towards the welfare and rights of others. It is a monster that we can beat if we stop believing in the new dangerous social media we recklessly use without considering the repercussions.
Tšepiso S. Mothibi
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.
Send your comments and questions to: email@example.com
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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lawyer in trouble
Trio in court for killing ‘witches’
Opposition fights back
Harnessing imagery in writing
All set for Lesotho Tourism Festival
Joang locked in rentals row with tenants
Drugs crisis fuels gangsterism
Lesotho shines on MCA scorecard
Politicians’ propensity to score own goals
Co-option tactics for self-preservation
M13.6 million for police cars
Matekane’s new Cabinet
Weekly Police Report
Reforms: time to change hearts and minds
The middle class have failed us
No peace plan, no economic recovery
Coalition politics are bad for development
Academic leadership, curriculum and pedagogy
We have lost our moral indignation
Mokeki’s road to stardom
DCEO raids PS’
Literature and reality
The ABC blew its chance
Bringing the spark back to schools
I made Matekane rich: Moleleki
Musician dumps ABC
Bofuma, boimana li nts’a bana likolong
Mahao o seboko ka ho phahama hoa litheko
Contract Farming Launch
7,5 Million Dollars For Needy Children
Ba ahileng lipuleng ba falle ha nakoana
Ba ahileng lipuleng ba falle ha nakoana
Weekly Police Report
Mahao o re masholu a e ts’oareloe
‘Our Members Voted RFP’ Says Metsing
Matekane’s 100 Days Plan
High Profile Cases in Limbo
130 Law Students Graduate From NUL
Metsing and Mochoboroane Case Postponed
News2 months ago
SA tycoon angers MPs
News2 months ago
Young Mpeka’s big dreams
News2 months ago
I’m here to help, says Mashudu
Business1 month ago
A fitness festival in Butha-Buthe
News1 month ago
𝐏𝐫𝐨𝐦𝐨𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐇𝐢𝐠𝐡-𝐐𝐮𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐁𝐞𝐥𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐑𝐨𝐚𝐝 𝐂𝐨𝐨𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐚 𝐁𝐫𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐅𝐮𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐞
News2 months ago
RFP member fights election disqualification
News2 months ago
‘Fake’ prophet swindles duo of M13 600
News2 months ago
Man claims M5 million damages for lost eyes