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Playing games with your taste buds

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ROMA – LERATO Mohasi’s canned vegetables do not only have an inviting look, the taste will play games with your taste buds.

“That is because I make them using a method called pickling,” Mohasi said.

Pickling is where you make vegetables last long by fermenting and canning them. People go shopping for burgers and pizza, unaware that the extremely tasty veggies found on them are fermented vegetables. Mohasi is bringing such delicacies right to your doorstep.

Her story starts at a very young age when she lived with her grandmother. When she describes her grandmother, you can bet she was a workaholic.

“She used to can everything from figs, tomatoes and peaches to prunes, pears and pine apples,” she said.

As if that was not enough already, the grandmother would go on “to dry and preserve every one of those foods”. At any moment in time, you could either have their canned or dried food if you visited them.

One of the strongest bonds in the world is that which forms between grandparents and grandchildren. However, the bond between grandmothers and granddaughters is unbreakable.

It is no wonder then that what the grandmother did many years ago, was wired into her granddaughter’s brain to this very day. Mohasi is the one now producing canned vegetables, not just for her family but for everyone who would like to try them.

How did she arrive here?

When she finished high school, she crossed the border into South Africa. That is where she picked up a programme, Bachelor of Business Administration with a major in Entrepreneurship and Business Studies.

She was at the Tertiary School in Business Administration University (Tsiba). After graduation, she couldn’t wait to get a secure employment, like everyone else. But it wasn’t going to happen.

She plunged into a jobless economy that is the Lesotho of today. She didn’t despair. Instead she started a business in which she was going to sell chopped vegetables.

“I would take vegetables, wash them, chop them up and sell them from door-to-door,” she said.

This happened in 2019 and the business was booming. She went so far as supplying people with chopped vegetables at events. But there was something she didn’t know.

Covid-19 was brewing! As if from nowhere it hit and Lesotho went into lockdown. What a blow it was!

“I could no longer move from house-to-house, selling.”

She said her business then went into a free-fall. Maybe Churchill’s words came to mind at that exact moment – “the pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty”. She went into opportunity-search gears. She happened to have a partner whose mother is also into canning fruits and vegetables.

“He encouraged me not to give up but to move from just chopping to canning.”

The beauty of canning is that canned foods last longer, sometimes even years. So when there are no customers, the products can simply be stored and sold at the right seasons.

“Well, I gave it a shot,” she said.

“But that meant going on a whole new way of doing things.”

Now she preserves chillies, tomatoes, carrots, green pepper, beetroot and so on.

“I use the process called pickling,” she revealed.

In this process, the vegetables are fermented to release acids such as lactic acids or vinegar. Green olives, which are often used in pizza, are some of the most widely pickled fruits. But why did she choose pickling specifically?

Fermentation is one of the most amazing processes humans have at their disposal. First, pickled foods last longer and are sold at a cheaper price. Simply put, you don’t need a fridge.

Second, have you ever tasted a well prepared burger or pizza and marvelled at the taste of vegetables used there? Vegetables in pizza and burgers are often pickled. Pickling adds rare tastes and textures.

Most importantly, when you ferment, you release nutrients. Thus pickled food comes packed with plenty of vitamins and minerals. The process of fermentation also creates healthy bacteria which will later fight and kill bad bacteria and fungus in your stomach.

It’s no doubt then, that eating pickled food gives you more than you asked for. However, was the market willing?

“At first, it wasn’t as good,” she answered.

“People were coming to me mainly to experiment. Many were driven by curiosity.”

But overtime, she began getting regular customers as more and more people were becoming aware of the health benefits and the killing taste.

Own Correspondent

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Suspension was malicious, says Nko

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MASERU – A gunshot wound and an attempted murder charge have not stopped Dr Retšelisitsoe Nko from starting a new fight.

The suspended Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC) boss is rolling up his sleeves for what promises to be an epic legal battle to be reinstated.

In an application filed in the High Court this week, Dr Nko argues that the LTDC’s decision to suspend him had a “glaring element of bad faith and malice”.

He says the suspension was procedurally flawed because there was no complainant to instigate it and he was not granted a hearing.

Dr Nko was suspended after he was involved in a shooting incident with guests at an event at a Hillsview guest house on December 27.

He is alleged to have rushed home to take his gun after an argument with some of the guests. Dr Nko and a guest sustained gunshot wounds in the scuffle that ensued.

Reports say the guests were trying to wrestle the gun from Dr Nko when the shots were fired.

The LTDC’s board suspended him two days later, alleging that he had failed to attend an extraordinary meeting called to discuss the incident.

The suspension letter was written by Nonkululeko Zaly who was the chairperson of the LTDC board by virtue of being the principal secretary in the Ministry of Trade.

Zaly, who has since been fired following corruption investigations, also approached the court to force the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences to return the assets confiscated during a raid at her house.

Dr Nko, in his court papers, accuses Zaly of usurping the board’s powers to suspend him. He says there was never a board resolution to suspend him.

The extraordinary meeting, he alleges, was a “prearranged dishonest scheme between certain members of the board and social media personnel which were part of the ruse deliberately designed to compromise” his interests.

Dr Nko says the board called him to the 29 December meeting when he was on sick leave and then suspended him without hearing his reasons for failing to attend.

He complains that Zaly wrote his suspension letter on the basis of mere allegations even though she had remained principal secretary and chairperson of the board when the corruption investigations against her were in full swing.

He queries why he was being suspended when Zaly was allowed to hold on to her job.

Zaly appears to have been belligerent when Dr Nko’s lawyers contacted her to query the suspension.

She told the lawyers, in a letter, that their queries were based on misinformation. She also dismissed the lawyer’s request for a record of the board meeting that decided to suspend Dr Nko.

“We are therefore not going to honour any of your demands and if your client is not satisfied, he is free to approach any appropriate forums to pursue these baseless issues,” Zaly said in her letter.

The lawyers say that response shows that Zaly was hell-bent on suspending their client.

Dr Nko wants the High Court to order the LTDC board to reverse the suspension, stop his imminent disciplinary proceedings and release the records of its December 29 meeting.

He also says the board is already conducting investigations on the incident to use as evidence against him in the disciplinary hearing.

Staff Reporter

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thepost columnist wins award

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Maseru – Two scholars associated with the National University of Lesotho have been awarded the 2022 Thomas Pringle prize for the best literary article published the previous year.

Chris Dunton, who is a columnist for thepost, and Lerato Masiea have won the prize, which is awarded by the English Academy of Southern Africa, for their article “Between rocks and hard places: the controversial career of A.S. Mopeli-Paulus,” which was published by thepost.

Dunton was previously Professor and Dean of Humanities at the NUL and for some years cwrote a column for this newspaper titled “Left Side Story.” Masiea is a lecturer in the NUL’s Department of English and is currently pursuing his doctorate at the University of the Free State.

Their prize-winning article was published in the journal English in Africa (vol.48 no.3, 2021, pp47-64). In it the authors explore the writings and life of the South African Mosotho author Mopeli-Paulus.

As their title indicates, their subject was a controversial figure, who degenerated from being an opponent of the apartheid regime (he was, notably, one of the leaders of the Witzieshoek Cattle Rebellion, for which role he was incarcerated in the Pretoria Central Prison) to being a high-ranking accomplice in the Bantustan system.

He was a prolific writer in both English and Sesotho (at one point he referred to the compulsive desire to write as a kind of madness!), his best-known works being the poetry-collection Ho tsamaea ke he bona (from time to time a set-text in Lesotho schools), the novel Blanket Boy’s Moon and the autobiography The World and the Cattle.

Dunton and Masiea’s article covers all his writing, published and unpublished (his papers are freely accessible at the William Cullen Library, Wits University) and is especially concerned with the question of cross-border identity.

Mopeli-Paulus was born in Monontsa, South Africa, in the lost territories—much in the news recently—and remained a South African citizen all his life. The dust-jacket for his first novel, Blanket

Boy’s Moon — which was an international best-seller — carries his name with the tag “Chieftain of Basutoland”, but this was a mistake.

Nonetheless, Mopeli-Paulus identified very strongly with Lesotho and has much to say — some of it fanciful, even spurious — on concepts of Sotho identity.

Dunton and Masiea explore this issue in detail, as it remains a topic of crucial importance even today.

Staff Reporter

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Matekane to boot out PS

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MASERU – THE Sam Matekane government is getting ready to get rid of Principal Secretaries appointed by the previous administration.

First to be axed is Nonkululeko Zaly who Matekane fired as a PS for the Ministry of Trade on January 11.

Zaly, who is challenging the decision, suffered a blow yesterday when the High Court refused to hear her case on an urgent basis.

Her case will now have to join the long queue of hundreds of others pending in the High Court.

Lefu Manyokole has been replaced as the PS of the local government ministry.

The axe is also likely to fall on government secretary, Lerotholi Pheko, and Foreign Affairs principal secretary Thabo Motoko.

The four have been the subject of a graft investigation by the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO).

Their homes and offices have been raided and properties seized as the anti-corruption unit investigates allegations that they received millions in bribes from contractors. The four are likely to be the first to be shown the door.

Indications are however that Matekane could be readying to purge the government of principal secretaries inherited from the previous government. Matekane hints at that impending clean up in his dismissal letter to Zaly.

“You will agree with me that as a Principal Secretary, yours was a political appointment,” Matekane said in the letter that Zaly claimed not to have received in her court papers.

“It follows therefore that the working relationship between yourself and the person appointing you, the Prime Minister in this case, is mainly based on utmost trust and confidence.”

“The trust and confidence components become even more important under the obtaining circumstances where the new government, of which I am the head, has just been installed.”

Matekane told Zaly that his government came with new ideas and policies at the top of which is to fight corruption.

He said he was aware that the DCEO had seized certain documents in Zaly’s possession “evidencing a commission of crime and that you failed to give a satisfactory explanation for your possession of those documents”.

“This has eroded all the trust and confidence I had in you as the Principal Secretary and there is no way I can continue with you at the helm of any government ministry,” Matekane said.

Highly placed sources in the government have told thepost that Zaly’s exit is just the beginning of a shake-up that will continue for the next three months as Matekane seeks to bring in new people he trusts and share his vision with.

Meanwhile, Moahloli Mphaka, the government’s special adviser in the Lesotho Highlands Water Commission this week told the High Court that there is a plan to fire him and two other senior officials.

Mphaka made the allegations in an urgent application to force the commission to pay his salary and that of Thabang Thite, and Bahlakoana Manyanye who are also part of the lawsuit. Thite and Manyanye are assistant advisers in the commission.

Mphaka told the court in an affidavit that on December 22 last year, the Natural Resources Minister Mohlomi Moleko told them that his superiors had instructed him to terminate their contracts.

The reason, Mphaka said, is the fact that they are the All Basotho Convention (ABC) members hired by former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane. He said the government’s delay to pay their December salary was meant to frustrate them into resigning.

Nkheli Liphoto

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