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We have to support Dr Majoro



Back in my high school days (a very long time ago), one of our teachers decided to tap into his humour bank and told our class a rather “funny” joke. It wasn’t funny as in ha-ha but we all laughed out loud. Not at the joke but at him for telling such a dry joke. You’ll know how high school students are.

The poor teacher said: One time, a blind man was invited for supper at a certain family.
The family and guest all sat around the dinner table to enjoy a hearty home-cooked meal. The meal consisted of an oven-roasted chicken and fried rice (John would have said “flied lies”, if you know what I mean).
As the family started to dish up, the guest was apportioned a quarter chicken leg on his plate. After a prayer to bless the food was made, the blind man (the guest) placed his hands over the plate and felt the quarter chicken leg. He then said, “Oh, I’ve been given a quarter chicken piece, I’m sure you’ve all dished half-chicken pieces on your plates.”

Out of embarrassment, the mother of the house (the host) rushed quickly to change the quarter chicken leg and replaced it with a half chicken piece. Yet again, the blind man placed his hands over the plate and felt the half chicken piece.
After feeling what he had been given, he then said, “Oh, I see! I now get half chicken on my plate. I’m sure that you’ve each dished out a full chicken on your plates (poleiting tsa lona, ke khoho, khoho, khoho).

Out of frustration and anger, the mother took the entire roasted chicken and dumped it on the blind-man’s plate.
As the story goes, the blind said, “Hmmm! Now that I’ve gotten a full chicken, I’m sure each of you has a full sheep on the plate.” (poleiting tsa lona ke nku, nku, nku). U so ka inahela mmali hore na nku e ka fella joang poleiting (You can take a wild guess how a whole sheep can fitbo a plate).
The dinner date was ruined because nothing could satisfy the blind man. Nothing at all! The blind man loved to complain and most of all he was never satisfied.

This is our disease in Lesotho. We’ve all prayed for a young, well-educated and open-minded Prime Minister. When we get one, we start to complain. “No, Ntate Tom was much better because he knew how to speak in public”.
The next day, “No, Ntate Mosisili was way better. In his time in office, tenders were very easy to get” The day after, “No, we don’t see what Dr Majoro is doing. Maybe Mme Doti would be a much better option”. Hao banna, na re tla qeta? (When shall we stop?)

I’ve also seen a silly comment on Facebook that read something like, “Timer lena (Dr Majoro) ha le na Vrrrr-pha!” But who really cares whether Dr Majoro has a Vrrr-pha or not? What we need at the moment is bread on the table.

We need to support Dr Majoro regardless of his lack of charisma or charm and I’m not writing this piece as a way of soliciting a tender or as a member of the ABC. I’m neither a member of the ABC or the BNP, contrary to popular belief. I’m a businessman first.
Our confused state of mind goes to show that we don’t really know what we want. But politics are certainly to blame for this mess.

In Lesotho, the main purpose of our politics is to create dis-unity so that people think in a fragmented manner. The politics are very toxic and counter-productive.
The agenda is never about developing Lesotho. It’s all about gaining power for tenders and appointments at different embassies. It’s a pure business transaction. “How many tenders will you kick-back, If I sponsor your political party for elections?”

The biggest disappointment to date has been comments from one opposition party that was a member of the previous 4×4 government. I’ve read and seen very negative and ungodly comments such as, “When parliament finally re-opens, the first thing we’re going to do, is to topple Majoro’s government.” Before we continue, aren’t those comments treasonous?

Look, we are in a time of deep crisis. In fact the whole situation is a mess. The Covid-19 crisis has compounded over and above the many problems that Lesotho already has. Lesotho is basically swimming in a pool of mud.
Instead of our politicians maturing up and acting like adults, they choose to act like teenagers fighting over a girl’s attention. Our opposition political leaders should have told their members to rally behind Dr Majoro for two main reasons; for political and economic stability.

Lesotho needs political stability first for the sake of economic stability. As a property developer, I know the negative effects of operating a business in a politically unstable environment and the biggest effect happens when Principal Secretaries are changed. Jesus!
Since, we’ve now politicised almost everything in the country, the biggest mistake by far has been to politicise positions of Principal Secretaries (PS’s). Why do I say so?

History tells us that positions of PS’s were once known as Permanent Secretaries and those appointments were mostly filled by career civil servants. That system worked very well until one “smart person” decided, “no man, I’m going to change these positions to Principal Secretaries and we’ll hire as we wish and according to party lines.” That was the beginning of the death of Lesotho’s public service sector.

As things stand, PS’s are political appointees that know nothing about running the public service. Nothing! They are often recruited from their different political parties as a reward for their loyalty and come into government to push a business agenda. PS’s are business people within government.

As a property developer, some of these projects can take almost three full years to package and they need constant communication with government officials. The situation we are in is that, this constant change of governments and constant change of PS’s is very disruptive to the business/private sector.

Constant political change is very costly. When the government changes, things start from scratch. There is often no continuity and that frustrates the business community.
That is the reason why Lesotho has fallen behind its peers, Botswana and eSwatini. Lesotho has been left as a least developed country and its counterparts have since graduated.
For once, and just for once, our politicians need to act in solidarity. They need to start acting in unity.

Dr Majoro is the best option that we have at the moment besides his flaws. It is time to rally behind him and support his leadership up until the 2022 elections. 2022 is almost here.
I really do not understand what the urgency and pressure to change Dr Majoro’s government is unless the motive is to pillage whatever is left.
Is it a matter of tenders? Or is it a matter retaining positions at different embassies? Or is it a matter of being driven around at the back-seat of a Mercedes-Benz? What’s so pressing and can’t wait before the 2022 elections?

In closing, Lesotho is a cow that has been milked by its politicians until there’s nothing left. Politicians have forgotten to take the cow to graze over green pastures and to take it to the dam or the nearest river for fresh water. Politicians just want to milk and milk and milk the cow without ever feeding it. In this case, feeding the cow basically means growing the economy.

There is nothing as destructive as having to lead people that undermine one’s authority. Let’s all learn to respect authority and support Dr Majoro to win. Under the current situation, if he wins, we all win and if he fails, we all fail.

‘Mako Bohloa

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The Joker Returns: Conclusion



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

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Reading, writing and the art of reflection



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

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The Joker Returns: Part One



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

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