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We were robbed, say villagers



SOME three months ago, ’Mapheello Rapita, a 53-year-old widow was surprised to see trucks off-loading stones for crushing in her vast field.
When she went to enquire what was happening, she found that the truck belonged to Qingjing Groups (CNQC), a Chinese-owned company building the M91 million Mpiti to Sehlaba-Thebe Road in Qacha’s Nek.
The company had not bothered to ask for permission to off-load the material on her land.

Rapita says as much as she appreciates the necessity of building the road in her area and the vast benefits they would enjoy as a community, the least the company could have done was to seek her permission to use her land.

What has complicated matters for her is the fact that the cement works have now ruined her land, making it extremely impossible to continue growing crops on the damaged land.

This was the only land she had to grow crops for her family

“I have not signed any contract with them to allow them to use my field neither did I have any talks with them about it,” Rapita says.

“I only saw that they have used it for crushing stones and I have noticed as well that the field will never be a field again.”

Rapita, who says her husband died last year, says she was hoping the project would “wipe her tears” by giving her some form of monetary compensation for ruining her field.

“My husband died leaving me with four children whom I have to raise alone,” she says.

“The field was so helpful for me and my children but now I have nowhere to plant yet there is nothing in return for me and the children I am left with.”

It is not just Rapita who is bitter over CNQC’s behaviour in villages that have been affected by the construction of the Mpiti to Sehlaba-Thebe Road.

Rapita and several other people from Ha-Mphahama are complaining that CNQC had promised to compensate them for the loss or damage of their land as a direct result of the new road.

The village chief of Ha-Mphahama, Chief Mathealira Mpiti, told thepost this week that the project management had promised to build small gravel roads to connect villages as they pass. That too has not been done, Chief Mpiti says.

The villagers would in return allow the Chinese-owned company to mine quarry, sand and other natural resources close to the villages as the construction of the road continued.

The chief says it had also been agreed that the construction company would give temporary jobs to residents of villages where it passes by.

“After some months without any promises being fulfilled they came back and told us that they were behind time with their project,” Chief Mpiti says.

“They said to go back to Ha-Mphahama to fulfil their promises would delay their project further since they had already passed the village,” he says.

“They asked the community to bear with them and allow them to pay M20 000 per village as compensation.”

Chief Mpiti says this is a mockery of his people.

The money was supposed to have been paid on August 12.

“We have not yet received any money from CNQC, we are still waiting,” he says.

He says the village committee is yet to meet to discuss the way forward. They want this done quickly before the company completes its work.

Tšepiso Sejojo, a councillor for Ha-Mphahama, says from the start “they have not done what they said they would do”.

“Promises of access roads around the village have not been fulfilled,” Sejojo says.

“And now even the issue of money we are no longer sure the promises will be fulfilled,” he says.

But Sejojo says they still have hope that the company will fulfil its promises in the end.

He says two other villagers also had their fields used by the company. They too have still not been paid.

Sejojo says they are thinking of blocking the company from mining natural resources such as quarry and sand until they fulfil their promises.

But that “punishment” might be too late because the construction work is about to be completed and the company will leave the area.

Pule Liau, 39, says the company parked its containers on his fields for three months under a promise that they would pay him M2 000 for each month.

He says to his shock, he was paid only M2 000 at the end of the three months period with the company insisting the payment was for the three months.

Liau says he signed a contract stipulating that his field would be used for three consecutive months, during or after which he would be paid M2 000 for each month.

“We had to sit down again and talk but even today they have not come back to pay me the balance,” he says.

“I think they are taking advantage of me because I am poor.”

Liau says he is dependent on his fields to look after his family. He has three children who are still going to school. His wife is unemployed.

He says he generates income for his family by selling beans every winter after harvest.

“I have always been able to take my children to school through the sale of beans,” he says.

“I feel betrayed and cheated.”

Contacted for comment, Mosehle Motosi, the coordinator between the company and the community, had promised to respond to the accusations from the villagers but had not done so at the time of going to print last night.

Motosi mediates between the locals and the Chinese because most cannot speak Sesotho or English.

The dispute between the villagers and the Chinese-run company did not start now. Last year, former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili had to intervene to ensure that communities in his Tsoelike constituencies were paid.

The CNQC then started compensating the people for their fields that had been taken to pave way for the construction of the Mpiti to Sehlaba-Thebe Road, after over a year of a bitter row with owners.

Mosisili told thepost then that there was no fight between the people and the company.

“It’s just that the people are inpatient but truly speaking the company is paying,” he said, then.

The people, together with their local government councillor Lephallo Phooko, had asked Mosisili to intervene to help resolve their dispute with CNQC over the issue of compensation.

Mosisili had been the Tsoelike MP since 1993 when Lesotho reintroduced democracy.

The Mpiti to Sehlaba-Thebe Road has been his flagship project that was meant to improve the standard of living of his community.

It was one of the biggest projects he initiated in his final years as Prime Minister and leader of the Democratic Congress (DC) party.

The company had entered into an agreement with the Tsoelike community to compensate field owners who would lose their land to the project.

But some field owners in Tsoelike said they had still not been paid, six years after the project began.

At the time the angry communities were staging protests to stop the company’s day-to-day business. They blocked the road during the protests.

Sometimes they would sing outside the company’s offices and some threw stones on the road.

The villagers stopped the protests after they were promised that they would be paid before the end of June last year, after Mosisili’s intervention.

The project is being bankrolled by Export-Import (EXIM) Bank of China which provided a concessional loan of M1.3 billion while Lesotho injected an additional M500 million to bring its total cost to M1.8 billion.

The road is a collaboration between Lesotho and China, facilitated through the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).

Thooe Ramolibeli

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I want my Zodwa



Muckraker spent weeks looking forward to Zodwa Wabantu’s show at Elibo Guest House. And it’s not because Zodwa has any thrilling talent.
She is a lousy dancer. A one-trick pony. There is not much to her act apart from deliberately forgetting to wear underwear and teasing drooling perverts. Muckraker was itching to attend the show just to enjoy watching depraves losing their minds over things they see every day.

But just as she was about to raise the last cent of the entrance fee the organisers announced that Zodwa (Aka Miss Pantyless) had been cancelled.

The reason for cancelling Miss Pantyless was that some church leaders were angry and disapproved of the show. Some were threatening ‘fire!’ on the lodge.
It is the hypocrisy of the church leaders that gets Muckraker’s goat.

Zodwa wasn’t coming to their churches or houses. Nor were their congregants invited to her show. They were not asked to contribute a cent to Zodwa’s fees. In short, the show was none of their business. They are not headmasters of morality. Nor are they paragons of virtue.

Zodwa should be last on the list of their worries. Instead, they should be first on the list of their worries.

A pantyless dancer is way better than a pastor who chows tithes and contributions. She is way more tolerable than false prophets with whom some of the church leaders share a faith, villages, streets and congregants.

These are church leaders who pray for politicians who continue to steal from the people. Their churches are full of murderers, thieves and rapists but they want to decide what a bar does in its premises and what pleasures people.

Might it also be remembered that some of the tithes, contributions and offerings churches receive are proceeds of crime. Churches don’t ask congregants how they earn their money because they know not all jobs and businesses are clean. None have Know-Your-Customer (KYC) forms.

When it comes to how you earn the offerings and tithes it’s between you and the Lord. Yet when it comes to you enjoying some Pantyless Zodwa they say it’s between you and them. Ba kena kae moo?

But all this is beside the point.

The real issue most church leaders deliberately refuse to acknowledge is that panties are overrated. Many of those dancing to hymns during their Sunday services are not wearing panties anyway.

That is common knowledge known to even rats in their churches.

If the church leaders argue that those dancing pantyless congregants were wearing panties, Muckraker will ask them three questions: how do they know, who did they ask and under what circumstances?

Whether it’s 6 or 9 depends on where you are standing.

Muckraker will not bother talking about the pitfalls of judging others because that is all too obvious and probably now a cliché of sorts.

All she can say for now is that if dancing without panties in church, bars or streets is a sin then many will not see heaven.

If panties were so important churches would be donating them like food and clothes. The moral of the story is that being Zodwa is not a sin.

And if you believe Muckraker was wearing panties when she wrote this column you are probably on a highway to being a false prophet. Fire!

Nka! Ichuuuuuuuuuuuu

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Christ the King win schools’ tournament



Christ the King High School (CK) were crowned champions of the 2023 Alliance High Schools Tournament on Saturday at Setsoto Stadium.
CK beat Mohatlane High School 2-1 in the final, thanks to goals from ‘Mapoho Skhosana and a dramatic last-minute penalty by Kopano Mootisa.

The dramatic climax gave Makhaola Serake’s charges their first Alliance High Schools Tournament trophy and the honour of becoming the second school after St Rose to win Lesotho’s most prestigious high school championship.

CK and St Rose will now face off in a curtain raiser for the high-profile Alliance Winter Challenge which is usually played in August ahead of the new league season.
It will be a dream day for the players who will kick off the annual preseason tournament contested by the four Vodacom Premier League clubs sponsored by Alliance Insurance being Matlama, Lioli, Linare and Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS).

Before then, CK can enjoy their fine success which they enjoyed under the mentorship of Matlama which was another exciting innovation of the Alliance High Schools Tournament.

As part of the mentoring, Matlama coach Halemakale Mahlaha sat behind CK’s bench observing the action, which undoubtedly inspired the players.
CK head coach Serake said his side’s two weeks of preparation for the competition also helped.

He said their team was made up of students from different schools including Mazenod, Cenez, Thabeng, as well as Tšepo high schools.

“We prepared well for two weeks,” Serake said.

“Lucky enough our players stay close-by, even the ones from other schools such as Cenez, Tšepo, Thabeng, Mazenod, we requested from their teachers and parents for them to come for training. It wasn’t difficult, they were allowed to come,” he said.

Serake said his talented CK squad had a simple formula for success.

“Hold on to the ball and run with it until you get into their box, that’s what we told them to do,” he said.

“A lot of the time they had the ball and took it wide, so going wide and then getting back in front of goals is not easy,” he continued.

CK reached the final by beating Sacred Heart 1-0 in the second semi-final to set up a tie with Mohatlane who had eliminated ‘Masentle earlier in the day. The final was reduced to 60 minutes to avoid fatigue but it did little help as players were still dropping like flies with muscle injuries.

In fact, the final five minutes of the finale were spotted with stoppages to give players medical attention they needed.

In his post-match interview, Serake acknowledged fatigue was a big problem for his players but praised them for pushing through to finish the game and win the grand prize.

Individual awards:

Player of the Tournament – Lebohang Mokone Mohatlane HS (Voucher M1 000)
Goalkeeper of the Tournament – Khotso Sehlabo CK HS (Voucher M1 000)

Prize monies
1st place CK – gold medals, trophy and M7 500
2nd place Mohatlane – silver medals and M5 000
3rd place Sacred Heart – M3 000
4th place ‘Masentle – M1 000

Tlalane Phahla

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A tribute to Micere Mugo



Barely a month after the death of Ama Ata Aidoo of Ghana, another great woman writer of Africa and Kenya, Micere Mugo, died on June 30, 2023.

About who she is, Mugo once said: I am Micee Githae Mugo. I am Micere, the one who troubles, the one who visits. The one whose name comes from Njeri, one of the nine daughters of Mumbi. So Micere is a version of Njeri. I am a woman. I am the mother of Mumbi and the late Njeri. I am a daughter of the Githae family and by former marriage, of the Mugo family.

I am a native of the Kirenyanga district in Kenya. I am a daughter of the Kenyan soil. I am a border crosser, defying geographical containment. I am Zimbabwean. I am African. I am Pan-African…I am a citizen of the world. I have no less than eight children named after me all over the world, and so I have been reborn many times…

Most of the people who paid tribute to Micere Mugo in the past week used the term “fearless” to describe her.
No wonder this renowned African playwright, poet, author, activist, and lecturer was presented with the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award by London’s Royal African Society. The award honours and pays tribute to those who have made a major contribution to African literature. Prof Micere Mugo is a long time advocate for social justice and human rights in Kenya and beyond.

Founded at Africa Writes in 2019, the Lifetime Achievement in African Literature Award is given to writers, academics, publishers and translators with careers spanning 20 years or more, in recognition of their life-long achievement within the field of African literature.
Receiving her award, Mugo said: I am touched by the spirit behind the award, and the urgency of honouring people while they are still alive.

Micere Githae Mugo born Madeleine Micere Githae in 1942 was a playwright, author, activist, instructor and poet from Kenya. In 1980 she became the Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Nairobi, making her the first woman in that university to become a dean. She was forced into exile in 1982 due to political activism. She then moved to teach at the University of Zimbabwe in 1982 and later the United States after she was stripped of her Kenyan citizenship by the government. This was despite being born in Baricho, Ndia constituency, in Kirinyanga County. At the time of her death she was professor of literature in the Department of African American Studies at Syracuse University.

Micere Githae Mugo is an internationally known world speaker recognised for her literary works, essays and writings which she has used as a platform to advocate for social justice and human rights in Africa especially Kenya. She has been described by most of her colleagues as a teacher and a woman of virtue, integrity, principle, and benevolence. As an educator, she liked to challenge her students to think beyond what they learn in the books and what they hear. She has written various plays, her most well known having been jointly authored with Ngugi Wa Thiongo called The Trial of Dedan Kimathi.

Micere Mugo’s play with Ngugi Wa Thiongo, The trial of Dedan Kimathi mesmerises with characters from the Kenyan guerrilla war in the 1950’s waged by Mau Mau.
There is a memorable scene in which the colonial soldier searches a Kikuyu woman who is actually on her way to feed the Mau Mau guerrillas in the forest. The scene is well set: “A woman is seen walking across the stage. Between 30 and 40, she is mature, slightly built good looking with a youthful face…” She is a simple peasant woman who is beautiful, strong, and clever and undeterred.

The play is based on Dedan Kimathi (1920-1957). Belonging to the Gikuyu ethnic group, he was one of the most influential and charismatic leaders of the revolutionary struggle for independence. Kimathi was well educated and spoke Gikuyu, Kiswahili, and English fluently.
He taught at the Karunaini Independent School in Nyeri, before becoming a freedom fighter. His fellow soldiers gave Kimathi the titles of Field Marshal and Prime Minister.

In 1955, during the State of Emergency, the British, recognising his growing influence, offered a bounty for his capture. He was hunted down (October 1, 1956) by British officer Ian Henderson, followed by a “fake trial” where ironically, rather than accusing Kimathi of leading the armed revolution, he was charged with carrying a firearm. He was executed at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison, the same prison where Ngugi was held without charge decades later.

Kimathi’s legacy was obscured for years thanks to the British propaganda (he was buried in an unmarked grave) until only recently when Kimathi was honoured as a significant architect of Kenya’s independence struggle.

Through her scholarship and poetry, you quickly see that Micere Githae Mugo is an avowed marxist, feminist and nationalist. Her position is informed by a nuanced understanding of African women in the context of history. Talking to Adeola James in 1986, she says, “The kind of writer that I have a lot of time and respect for is a writer like Alex La Guma. I admire the fact that his writing was not only talking about struggle, but he was part and parcel of the struggle in South Africa. I admire somebody like Ngugi Wa Thiongo, whose example and position in life has demonstrated his commitment to the struggle of the Kenyan people. This kind of writer I want to identify with.”

About women and feminism, Mugo says, “The African woman occupies the lowest rung of the ladder.” She clearly states that women in Africa are oppressed by both African patriarchy and colonialism. To her, they bear the double yoke. Mugo says that as feminists, we must know that not all women are oppressed because some women are part of the oppressive capitalist class because of their own historical positions and race. More specifically, Mugo says, “There is nothing wrong in singing about women but I think we must be careful to define and specify which women we are singing about…”

In her collection of poems called My Mother’s Poem and Other Songs, Micere Mugo comes across as a very conscious and deliberate poet. She is not lost in poesy for its emotional sake but she is involved in a very pointed mode of poetry that sees the feminist struggle as part of the human struggle.
Her poetry though feminist, identifies with the African landscape and culture and claims that positive African culture has always been intrinsically feminist. In her first poem, she writes feminist nationalist rhetoric:

The beautiful ones
were born
in the land of Me Katilili
the home of Koitalel arap Samoei
on the soil of Muthoni waKirima
the birthright of Kimathi wa Wachiuri.

Probably Micere Mugo’s most energetic and dazzling poem in this collection is called “To be a Feminist is.” Her critical message is that while the work of African feminists is about encouraging equity between men and women, feminism should transcend that and crave for the same sense of belonging that all the masses crave for in Africa regardless of their gender. For her, to be feminist “is to celebrate my birth as a girl, to ululate that my gender is female. It is to make contact with my being.” She struggles against patriarchy and western imperialism in the same breath:

“For me
to be feminist is
to denounce patriarchy
and the caging of women
it is
to wipe the fuzziness
of colonial hangovers
to uproot the weeds
of neo-colonial pestilence.

For me
to be feminist is
to hurl through the cannon
of my exploding
righteous fury
the cannibal
named capitalism
it is
to pronounce death sentence
on the ogre
named imperialism.”

Mugo’s feminism in the poem called “The woman’s poem” imagines women of the world standing together regardless of the boundaries of their countries so that together they “explode defrosted and refrigerated woman hood pestled and mortared over time.” It means that Mugo imagines a time when womanhood was a perfect place and that space was only defiled by the struggles to dominate other people and other lands.

Mugo’s feminism gives in to the desire to create united national and international vision of people in Africa and the Third World. She tends to think that feminism tends to have capitalist traits and would be ameliorated with a dose of Marxist-nationalist thought. You see this in poems like “We will rise and build a nation.” She thinks that the divisions between man and woman are a project that can easily be dealt with compared to the chasm between the rich and the poor or that between the North and the South:

“For me
to be feminist is
to have dialogue
with my father
and my brother
to invite their partnership
as fellow guerrillas
it is
to march with them
to the war torn zone
of Afrikana survival
it is
to jointly raise with them
the victory salute.”

In the preface to this collection, Mugo admits that she has had a continous dialogue with Ayi Kwei Armah’s novel The beautiful Ones are Not yet Born and agrees with him that “the neo colonial ruling class is made up of ugly creatures of prey, but insisting that even in the midst of all this ugliness, beautiful human beings have been born.”

This means that Mugo finds Armah pessimistic about the future of independent Africa. Mugo believes that the African personality can start to be reworked towards beauty once more because initially Africans are born amidst beautiful lands with people with beautiful relations. They must find regeneration from that idea. The beast in us has to be defeated so that the angel in us is born:

“The beautiful ones
were born
in the lowlands of despair
through valleys of elusive hope
across ridges of obstinate resistance
on the highlands of mounting optimism.”

Asked on what could be her advice to young writers, Mugo says: “The best advice I could give is that they should do it for the love of it; do it for the pure joy that writing brings. Writing, and even becoming a published writer, is not necessarily going to make you famous or make you money: in fact, you may very well die poor! You need to be in love with writing; let the impetus come from deep within you; feel it in your bones and in the very depths of your soul. Allow the message to possess you to the extent that you cannot hold it back. In the spirit of Haki Madhubuti’s poetry collection’s title, Don’t cry, scream!”

Former Chief Justice of Kenya, Willy Mutunga, said Micere’s revolutionary spirit will continue living. “Our Comrade, Sister, and Revolutionary, Professor Micere Githae Mugo has joined our ancestors some four hours ago. May she shine in the light of the ancestral abode as she shone on earth with revolutionary light. Her revolutionary spirit lives,” Justice Mutunga said.

President of Kenya, William Ruto, joined Kenyans in mourning Professor Micere Mugo. He said last Saturday that the late poet had many wonderful achievements that were inspirational. “I join the people of Kenya in mourning the passing of Prof Micere Mugo, a celebrated Kenyan scholar, teacher and activist as well as to celebrate her many wonderful achievements for which she is rightly recognised as an iconic trailblazer and inspirational pioneer.”
Some years ago, Micere Mugo herself disclosed that she was a two-time cancer survivor. For a long time, she battled cancer of the bone marrow. May her soul rest in peace.

Memory Chirere

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