Thato: a life well lived

Thato: a life well lived

EVERY war has heroes, people who give themselves for the survival of others. Without these heroes a war would consume everything and everyone in its destructive path.

But because of the hero, victories are achieved even in the bleakest of circumstances. The war on violence against women, children and girls.
The battle for minorities’ rights to self-determination and equal treatment.
The war against HIV/AIDS and other diseases.
The battle for the rights of every living person within the borders of Lesotho.

As I write this there are men and women leading the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. Some are in the trenches, fighting against hunger, poverty and unemployment.
All these wars have heroes who stand firm in the face of trials and tribulations. Most of these heroes will probably never be known by name or remembered for their sacrifice.

Yet there is no doubt that without the personal commitment of these faceless heroes most of the rights and other basics that many take for granted would not be possible.
Today we bid farewell to one such hero: a mother, an advocate for human rights, a champion for change and a gallant fighter for the rights of women and girls. Thato ‘Marelebohile Kata, the monitoring and evaluation officer at Sesotho Media & Development, may not be a household name but she is a heroine whose journey in the local civil society movement goes back to the early 2000s.

Thato died on October 9 after a life she spent supporting young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to become active and empowered citizens. Because of her work, through civil society organisations like Sesotho Media & Development, she transformed the lives of thousands of Basotho across the country.

She was only 36 but she lived what those who know her and those she helped would testify to be a meaningful and fulfilling life.
Thato, who was born in Lehlakaneng on 9 April 1984, succumbed to health complications resulting from gastric problems.
Mamakhethe Phomane, the director of SHE HIVE Association, described Thato as a pillar of strength for the weak.

“This is a very sad time for the women’s movement in this country. People like Thato are difficult to come by,” Phomane said.
“Thato unshackled the limitations on the voice of women, imposed by the patriarchal nature of our society”.
Phomane said Thato “rose above the waves of a system that inherently silences women and normalises their exclusion and marginalisation”.
“Her passing will leave a gap that won’t be easily filled. I hope in her memory women and girls can be inspired, to be the agents of their own change”.

As a country we need to nurture a culture of celebrating heroism. We need to open our eyes and realise that there are people who pay the bills for the positive rights, changes and benefits we enjoy every day through their own lives.
Thato will always be remembered and her legacy will live on in the hearts of every living soul she touched.

She will be laid to rest this Saturday in Koro-Koro (Ha Mofoka). She is survived by two boys and a husband.
For more information on the arrangements – visit, Facebook page Sesotho Media & Development.
l Bokang Kampong is a Maseru-based freelance journalist who worked with Thato for two years.

Bokang Kampong

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