Tag: Lesotho

‘We are here’: Basotho march for LGBTI rights

There is a growing bustle of colour, sound and movement outside Maseru’s Setsoto Stadium this morning of May 16. A crowd is gathering, the majority of them dressed in brightly coloured clothing. Banners, flags and rainbow-striped umbrellas are being handed out. Shouts, whistles and laughter intermingle with the loud music blasting from the back of a truck.

Billy Molapo has dressed up for the occasion. He stands tall and proud in a long dress, stilettos, pink beret and large hoop earrings. His face breaks into a wide smile when I ask him how he feels about today.

“I’m happy,” he says simply. “I want to show everyone that I’m proud of who I am.”

In a little while, Molapo and the rest of the crowd will set off on a gay pride march through the streets of Maseru, held today to commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT). For the third year in a row, the event has been organised by Matrix Support Group, a local organisation working to promote the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in Lesotho.

(Pic: Meri Hyöky)
Hundreds of people took to the streets in supports of LGBTI rights. (Pic: Meri Hyöky)

Since its establishment in 2008, Matrix has spearheaded the country’s emerging LGBTI rights movement. Lesotho’s laws regarding homosexuality are somewhat ambiguous. Female same-sex sexual activity has never been criminalised, but male same-sex sodomy is prohibited as a common-law offence. The anti-sodomy law, however, has never been enforced in an instance of consensual sexual activity. As is the case with many former British colonies and protectorates, the law has simply remained unchanged for decades. Lesotho’s Constitution makes no mention of offering protection to individuals against discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Moleboheng Mokotjo has been a member of Matrix for the past six years. This is her third pride march. She looks relaxed and comfortable, and shrugs off my question about whether she thinks there will be any trouble today.

“I think 2 out of 10 people will say something negative. For me, this march is a way of saying: ‘We are here. We are your brothers and sisters. Acknowledge us. Talk to us and try to understand what we are going through.’”

“My family knows that I’m a lesbian, but it’s something that we’ve never openly discussed. A lot of LGBTI people in Lesotho struggle to gain acceptance from their families. I have a friend who came out and has since been completely cut off from her family.”

“A lot of society still doesn’t accept us. You have to choose where you go, keep to your bubble, and know who to associate with. I know my space, I know where I will be accepted for who I am, and I don’t go into other spaces.”

Leshoboro Mokhameleli, an openly gay man and a volunteer with Matrix, says that there are occasionally incidents of violence towards LGBTI individuals.

“I know two friends who have been beaten up just for being gay, but this is something that rarely happens. Violence against gay people here is not as common as it is in South Africa. Name-calling happens all the time. People often shout out: ‘What are you? A man or a woman?’ I’m so used to it that I just brush it off and walk away.”

At least two hundred of us have gathered at this stage. The procession begins, led by a police van and the music-blaring truck. The people at the front break into a jog, lifting their rainbow-striped umbrellas and banners in time to the music. A giant, billowing rainbow flag is carried by about twenty people. The march goes through the very heart of the city. We walk past street vendors, pedestrians, taxis, hair saloons, butcheries, shisa nyamas and bars. It is impossible to ignore us. We are met by a whole range of facial expressions and reactions. Some onlookers simply stand and watch. Some look disapproving, some look indifferent. Many smile, laugh and begin to dance on the spot, responding in a natural, carefree way to the music.

(Pic: Meri  Hyöky)
People sang and danced during the procession. (Pic: Meri Hyöky)

We walk past the taxi rank, and when we get to our first set of traffic lights the whole group stops in the middle of the road and dances on the spot. People raise their knees high, and the giant rainbow flag is furiously waved up and down. The truck is now playing a well-known gospel song. Many of the marchers sing along, lifting their hands and ululating as they walk.

We arrive on Kingsway, the city’s main street, crowded with taxis, cars and people. Traffic is again brought to a standstill as we flood the road. At this point, Angel Thoko, a Matrix Program Manager, is standing at the top of the truck, shouting into the microphone. There is a sharp change in the tone of the march as her voice screams through the speakers: ‘Amandla!’ ‘Rights!’ ‘Down, homophobia, down!’ The aim of the procession is firmly declared, loudly and boldly for all to hear.

Later, I ask Thoko how she felt in that moment, standing on the truck and confidently shouting out in the middle of the city.

“I felt wonderful,” she laughs. “I felt freedom within myself, I felt as if I owned the space.”

“This march helps LGBTI people in Lesotho to get together, to unite. But not everyone is able to join us. There are still many people who don’t want to be seen, who worry about what their parents or their friends will say. We want this march to get bigger every year. There will never be a time when we say: we have done enough.”

Health care, government support

Sheriff Mothopeng, also a Matrix Program Manager, explains that a major focus of the organisation is campaigning for equal access to health services.

“Lesotho has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in Africa, and men who have sex with men (MSM) are especially at risk. We have projects where we sensitise health care workers at private and public health institutions, so that LGBTI people can easily access health services, without questions or discrimination.”

“In the future, we want to encourage parents and older people to come out and support this march. At the moment, it is mostly young people who are marching, so I’m afraid that some onlookers think to themselves that we are just ‘crazy children’, not to be taken seriously.”

Tampose Mothopeng, director of Matrix, laughs as he tells me about the slight hitch that the organisation experienced with the police on the eve of the march.

“I received a call from the police, asking me if this march was promoting homosexuality. If that had been the case, they would not have offered us any protection. I explained that this is an international commemoration against homophobia and transphobia, and luckily, in the end, they agreed to help, as they have done in the past two years.”

“We need more support from our government. We need leaders who recognise the diverse needs of their followers. We need government bodies to say to us: ‘We understand that you need health services, we understand that your rights must be protected. We are standing up with you to provide that.’”

“Matrix is working country-wide, in communities and in villages. We want to change the laws of this country, but first we need to make sure that people understand what we are talking about, so that when we come up, we come up with our parents and our supporters. We want the people, the gatekeepers, the leaders, to push this movement up.”

Leila Hall is a freelance writer living and working in Lesotho. 

Lifaqane music festival: Harmony out of chaos

Hip Hop Pantsula. (Pic: Supplied)
South African rap icon Hip Hop Pantsula. (Pic: Supplied)

The logo wrapped around the stage pillars at the Lifaqane-Mfecane Music Festival – the inaugural traditional music event in Maseru, Lesotho, hosted against a mountainous backdrop at the Thaba Basiou Cultural Village on May 2 – read “1815 was chaos, 2015 is collective.”

The logo compares a “collective” 2015 to the “chaos” of 1815, the year that marked the start of almost three decades of turmoil and wars between Southern African ethnic groups. This period in history is known as the Mfecane in isiZulu, Lifeqane in Sesotho or the “Wars of Calamity” by the English, which effectively led to the creation of the Lesotho kingdom.

And yes, following last year’s political upheaval in the country, which saw an alleged botched coup and the subsequent suspension of Parliament, a sense of ­political calmness prevailed at the February general elections, according to the Southern African Development Community Electoral Observation Mission. The elections were called following the unrest and resulted in the current coalition government.

But implying that 2015, by way of the music festival, is a “collective” would be fairly presumptuous of Ancestral Collective, the nonprofit organisation that presented the spectacle. With a late start to the music event and some no shows, a sense of chaos pervaded the poorly attended event.

Hit and miss
Due to the late start, South African musician Thandiswa Mazwai’s pre-headliner performance was cut to 30 minutes. But in that limited time, the award-winning singer gave a rousing show and sang extended renditions of hits such as “Ingoma” to an enamoured audience wrapped in blankets and thick coats to ward off the autumn night’s chill.

As the dwindling crowd patiently waited for the final act, South African rap icon Hip Hop Pantsula, an unfamiliar face – not the festival emcee – took to the stage to snappishly announce the closure of the concert in Sesotho. With a few boos and cries of disappointment from the crowd, the first Lifaqane-Mfecane Music Festival unexpectedly shut down just after midnight.

“Police closed it down after midnight,” read the WhatsApp response from the organisers to my questions on reasons the show was cut short. If this message was broadcasted clearly to those who paid from R150 for a ticket, there would have been less anger and confusion at the event.

But with firsts, obstacles are likely to surface; making it easy to forgive the glitches that arose at Saturday’s showcase. The atmosphere at the cultural village was upbeat and performances from the musicians who did play were captivating.

Highlighting traditional music from Lesotho and South Africa, artists like maskandi heroes Phuzekhemisi and Ntombe Thongo and Lesotho-born vocalist Tsepo Tshola had audiences on a high. While local saxophonist and singer Bhudaza led his band and the crowd on a soulful jazz and gospel journey through the evening.

Heritage remembered
Lifaqane-Mfecane Music Festival is funded by Ancestral Collective. It is a new organisation “developed and structured to create platforms to create and send a strong message to our people, in particular Africans, to remember and know their history, know who they really are, be proud of and celebrate their cultures, customs and traditions”, writes the organisation’s Lekhooe Isaac Khothatso Moletsane who, according to him, is “direct descendant of the great Makgothi Moletsane”.

Makgothi Moletsane was a revered ally of the 19th century BaSotho king, Moshoeshoe I, who is buried in the area where the festival took place, Thaba Basiou, which was also his headquarters during part of his reign.

“The main focus of the show is Sesotho traditional music, with 74% of the artists being Basotho,” reads the Ancestral Collective website’s write-up on the event, as it names musicians such as Mantsa, Puseletso Seema and Rabotso le Semanyane. Using local and international music acts, the festival’s aim seems clear: to “pay tribute to a forgotten but very important time in our history, to pay homage to those who fought and died trying to protect our people and our land, and to get people to think about, research, and learn about this time in our history. Once we truly know who we are and where we come from, then we will know where we are going”.

Africa is one
And at a time where widespread ethnic violence or xenophobia recently erupted in the country surrounding Lesotho, it is this last sentence by the organisation that South Africans could take away and utilise it as a way of respecting foreign nationals as fellow Africans and nothing less.

In an interview with Hip Hop Pantsula ahead of his performance at the festival, he spoke at length about this topic to the Mail & Guardian.

“Part of the reasons why these attacks are happening is that we don’t know any better. We don’t know the true history of the origins of many of our ethnic groups here at home; and half of our families are made up of foreigners who adopted local surnames to acculturate.”

And with the festival’s intention to raise awareness around historical events of Lesotho and South Africa, it is a platform for greatness. With a rigorous marketing strategy in future and smooth-running programme on the day, the show might live beyond its pilot status.

Stefanie Jason is a senior content producer for the Mail & Guardian Friday.

Lunch hour at a Lesotho textile factory: A snapshot

People shop at a market in Maseru on August 31 2014. (Pic: AFP)
People shop at a market in Maseru on August 31 2014. (Pic: AFP)

I am standing outside the gates of a textile factory in the Industrial Area of Maseru West. The midday sun is blaring, and the air is heavy with waiting. In ten or so minutes, at precisely 11.45am, the factory workers inside the gates will get their one-hour lunch break. Outside the gates, preparations are underway. On the concrete ground, in between puddles of dirty water, several street vendors are setting up. A woman has laid out a blanket and is arranging piles of peaches onto it. A man is heaping stacks of processed meat onto a small cooker. Somebody has botched an attempt to light a fire inside a cardboard box. The flames consume the cardboard, sending thick smoke rising into the air. Next to a wall lined with barbed wire, groups of women are seated on the only patch of grass in sight. Some have brought umbrellas to shield themselves from the harsh sun. They too are waiting, hoping to find work inside the gates.

Lesotho’s apparel and textile industry is one of the largest in Africa. This particular factory employs approximately 4 000 people, the majority of whom are women. In a country with an overall unemployment rate of 26%, the industry employs close to 40 000 people in 40 factories, providing more than 80% of Lesotho’s manufacturing employment. The majority of the garments produced in the country are for major US brands such as Gap Inc., Levi Strauss and Wal-Mart.

Since 2008, Lesotho’s government and apparel manufacturers have worked hard to market Lesotho as a ‘responsible sourcing destination’ for ‘ethical consumers’. In a nutshell, this means that textile factories in the country have to adhere to Lesotho’s labour legislation, which enshrines the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) core conventions. These include no child or forced labour, payment of minimum wages, regulated maximum working hours and ensuring that basic requirements for health and safety are met. The major brands that source their products from Lesotho also monitor factories to ensure that working conditions meet their codes of conduct.

I am standing with ‘Mareitumetse Mokhoro, who works for the Lesotho Clothing and Allied Workers’ Union (Lecawu), a trade union that advocates for better wages and working conditions for factory workers in Lesotho. In cases of mistreatment, Lecawu offers legal assistance by representing workers in court. Mokhoro is also waiting. Lunchtime is the only time she can meet with workers.

‘Oppressed and underpaid’
“Factory workers in Lesotho are oppressed and underpaid,” Mokhoro tells me. “They receive the minimum wage, but this isn’t enough. They are often insulted or treated badly. Most of the cases that we deal with are unfair dismissals or underpayments.”

The workers in this factory receive a monthly salary of R1 212, for nine hours of work a day, five days a week. This amounts to less than R7 an hour. I find it hard to imagine how anyone survives on such a salary, especially people who have a family to support.

'Mareitumetse Mokhoro addresses workers outside a textile factory in Maseru. (Pic: Meri Hyöky)
‘Mareitumetse Mokhoro addresses workers outside a textile factory in Maseru. (Pic: Meri Hyöky)

“Half a loaf is better than no loaf,” says Mokhoro wryly. “You know, women in Lesotho are very strong. Most factory workers do not have husbands, and they earn very little money. But still, they are able to build houses and send their children to school. Even if they are poor, they don’t give up.”

Before becoming a full-time employee of Lecawu, Mokhoro spent eight years working in a textile factory.

“As a factory worker, I was treated badly by my employers because I spoke out about the problems that workers face,” she explains. “So I decided to fight outside of the company, so that management has no control over me. Now I have a voice. I can openly say: workers are mistreated.”

“Some employers are willing to work with Lecawu, but others are hostile, and they don’t allow us to come into the factories and solve problems. We always refer cases to the courts, but these cases take a long time to be resolved. That discourages the workers.”

At 11.45, a bell rings from inside the factory and the gates open. The workers stream out, walking fast. The quiet, waiting atmosphere has instantaneously transformed into a hurrying, crowded bustle of noise and activity. Mokhoro is standing a few metres from the gates, shouting out to the workers, appealing to them to listen to what she has to say. For a good 20 minutes she receives very little response. The vendors who have been setting up are inundated. I watch as the workers walk back towards the gates, some of them clutching plastic bags of greasy chips, fat cakes and cheap, processed meat sausages. Some have brought lunch boxes with them and are hungrily tucking in. Gradually, 50 or so workers gather in a circle around Mokhoro.

I look at the weary expressions on their faces as they listen to her. Mokhoro punches her fist into the air regularly and shouts out several call-and-response slogans that are answered by a few of the onlookers. Many of them simply stand still and silent.

“What kinds of troubles do you face as workers?” she asks the group.

“We don’t earn enough money.”

“We’re hungry.”

“We have to rent small rooms.”

“We have to walk. We don’t have the money for transport.”

“Sometimes we are mistreated if we don’t understand instructions.”

“I eat only papa and cabbage!” says one woman standing close to me, pushing her plastic lunch box forward to display its contents.

For 30 minutes, Mokhoro speaks to the workers, listening to their complaints and concerns, and encouraging them to convince others to join Lecawu. With 3 800 members in 21 factories, the union has a strong presence, but in many factories it does not yet have enough members to legally bargain and negotiate with employers.

At 12.45, the bell sounds again, and the gates to the factory begin to close. The factory workers move swiftly, rushing inside, clearly frightened of the possible repercussions of being late. The ground is now littered with small plastic bags. A few of the vendors are packing up to leave. The women seated on the grass remain where they are, waiting.

Leila Hall is a freelance writer living and working in Lesotho.

‘Mathabiso Mosala: 50 years of activism in Lesotho

'Mathabile Mosala. (Pic: Meri Hyöky.)
‘Mathabiso Mosala has championed Basotho women’s rights since 1963. (Pic: Meri Hyöky.)

Eighty-three-year-old ‘Mathabiso Mosala lives in a bustling, chaotic part of Maseru. Her house is located on one of the city’s main roads, crowded with shops, pedestrians and heavy traffic. Street vendors line the pavement outside her gate, their shouts mingling with the incessant hooting of taxis driving past.

Mosala, or nkhono, as many fondly call her, is quiet and dignified in her appearance. The interior of her home is cool, silent and immaculately tidy, in sharp contrast to the noisy street outside. Polished ornaments sit still on shelves, and the smiling faces of her grandchildren and great grandchildren peek out of picture frames in the living room.

Despite her age, Mosala speaks with clarity and strength, and holds her listener in a steady gaze. She has many stories to tell. For the past five decades, she has been at the forefront of the Lesotho National Council of Women (LNCW), a coalition of women’s organisations that has worked tirelessly over the years to advocate for the rights of women in Lesotho, and to provide them with meaningful skills, opportunities and training.

The story of the LNCW begins in 1963, three years before Lesotho gained its independence, when Mosala and three other Basotho women boarded a flight to Israel. As the presidents of four separate women’s associations, they had been sent by King Moshoeshoe II on a study tour to observe some of the work being done by Israeli women’s organisations.

After six weeks, they returned to Lesotho feeling energised and inspired. Amongst the many things they had seen, they had been particularly impressed by the existence of an umbrella body that co-ordinated the efforts of a number of different organisations. The four associations joined forces, and the LNCW was born.

The women set to work, and steadily the LNCW grew. They began by establishing nursery schools, and then shifted their focus to opening vocational training centres. Four of these are still in operation, providing young people from poor backgrounds with training in a range of skills, including sewing, carpentry and business management.

Women’s money, women’s rights
“We’ve successfully trained more than 5 000 people,” says Mosala proudly, her face breaking into a wide smile. “We’ve made it possible for women to make money for themselves, thanks to the skills that we have given them. Our centres are not expensive, and we’re not concerned with academic qualifications. If people have hands, they can be taught to use them.”

For the past fifty years, the LNCW has also played a key role in pressuring the government of Lesotho to pass a number of laws that protect women’s rights. Among these is the Legal Capacity of Married Person’s Act, passed in 2006, which gave Basotho women the right to own and manage property. Another milestone was Lesotho’s 1995 ratification, albeit with reservations, of the Convention of the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw).

Mosala speaks about these achievements with a hint of pride, but mostly with a firm and realistic view of how much still needs to be done.

“In the past, a woman used to be her husband’s wife, her father’s daughter, and even her son’s daughter, because by law the eldest son was the head of the family,” she says. “Now, a woman can go to the bank or buy a site without being accompanied by a man. Many things have changed for the better, but we still won’t be satisfied until Cedaw is ratified without reservations.”

“Women who live in rural areas need to be educated. Rural women still bring their husbands with them when they want to open a bank account, because they don’t realise they have the right to do it on their own. Another issue is that many legal documents are written in English, and especially in jargon. Just this morning I was reading the constitution; there are laws in it that even I don’t understand.”

Over the years, the LNCW has expanded, and it now serves as an umbrella body for 13 member organisations who work with diverse sectors of society on a range of issues, including HIV awareness, women’s rights and caring for orphans and the elderly.

Mosala’s experiences and achievements are just as varied. Her work with the LNCW has seen her deal with a long list of foreign donors, and she has travelled widely, representing the LNCW at seminars and conferences around the world. In 1993, she was nominated by King Letsie III to serve as a member of Lesotho’s Senate, a position she held for five years. She has also received many awards in recognition of her work, including the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Lesotho African Women’s Awards ceremony in 2012.

“I am proud because I have helped many people put bread on the table,” Mosala says with a quiet humility. “I know that I have done something to make a difference in the lives of others, and I think that is something that people should aim for.”

Modern-day Lesotho
However, despite her hard work and long list of achievements, Mosala’s voice often sounds tired, and her forehead creases into a frown at many points in our conversation. Her commentary on modern-day Lesotho is harsh, and paints a bleak, unforgiving picture of many aspects of the country.

“I have lived in this house since 1976,” she says. “Back then, this street was nice and clean. I used to be able to plant flowers outside my yard. It’s terrible now. I want to move. I am too old to live in such a dirty place. Our environment has degraded horribly. There are plastic bags everywhere, and there is no recycling of waste.”

Mosala outside her home in Maseru. (Pic: Meri Hyöky)
Mosala outside her home in Maseru. (Pic: Meri Hyöky)

“We are a country with many resources, and yet the majority of Basotho don’t benefit from these. We produce wool and mohair, but there is no processing plant in Lesotho. Our blankets are made across the river and sold back to us. The same thing happens with our water. I don’t have a vegetable garden because I can’t afford to pay for water, and yet we sell water to South Africa. We don’t even know how much we’re getting for the sale of that water, and what it is doing, for who?”

Mosala’s commentary comes at a pertinent time: Lesotho is about to hold its national elections, brought forward by two years after a politically turbulent 2014 saw an attempted coup and the dissolution of parliament. Her advice to voters is sharp and straight to the point.

“This country is in dire poverty, so why vote for somebody who is not going to take you out of poverty? Our politicians spend years in office and they do nothing. People complain that they have no food and no water, and yet they elect the same politicians back to power. Are we stupid? Are we brainwashed? Basotho need to be aware of their rights. They should elect people who will ensure their long-term empowerment, and they should hold those people accountable.”

“If the government is doing nothing, it doesn’t mean that you should sit around, complain and not take action. It took 30 years for our vocational schools to be officially accredited by the Ministry of Education, but we never tired in our efforts, and we continued with our work. Some things have changed for the better in this country, but many things haven’t. The next generation of young Basotho activists have a lot to do for the next 50 years.”

Leila Hall is a freelance writer living and working in Lesotho.

The sound of Aids: Lesotho’s mourning bell

(Pic: Flickr / World Bank)
(Pic: Flickr / World Bank)

During summer in Lesotho, the perfect time to go running is just before 6am, when the sun has reached a point where it warms the earth without damaging the skin; and just before the traffic of a thousand textile factory workers swarms the road. Five days a week at six in the morning, I go for a run. I pass suburban lawns, the police training college, a small village school and The Clinic. At this clinic, I hear sounds that I recognise from many places, but never bother to identify. The sounds of a creaky wire gate, the voice of an eager vetkoek hawker, a gurgling baby on its mother’s lap, cold instructions from a male nurse, the moaning of a tired and thin woman, the tuberculosis cough of an old man and, as  always, the frightened silence of desperate hope. All of these, to me, resemble the sound of Aids.

This sound is loud as it is soft. It is as ordinary as it is uncanny and only those who have heard it before will recognise it. One recent morning, I ran my daily route past the clinic and was annoyed that my earphones were failing to block out the sounds around me. That was when I heard it, this repetitive and unchanging sound of Africa’s silent massacre-leader. I ran faster because I recognised it – I was not in the mood for a reminder. On the way back from my running loop, I decided to stand at the corner of the fence surrounding the clinic. I was compelled by curiosity. After all, this impulse kills cats and not humans.

There were those oh-so-familiar sounds again: the gate, hawker, baby, man, moan, cough, and silence, all at once. The noises were coming from faceless figures, someone’s mother or uncle or niece. I tried to catch pieces of dialect, everyone seemed to be discussing everything but the reason they were there. One woman was joking about how, during the 1998 Lesotho Riots, she used to ward off soldiers with her rear end.  Another was telling the uninterested boy beside her how Basotho love the word of God but detest God himself. There was a man holding a newspaper with the headline ‘Lesotho food security at risk’. Everything seemed so normal, only it wasn’t. Of the first 10 faces I looked at, about seven had hesitant and pained expressions painted on. Not the kind of angst that comes from telling a big lie, or running out of money mid-month, but the kind that screams “Surely Not”.

I’d witnessed this kind of angst plenty of times while working shifts at my mother’s pharmacy. My mother maintained my grandmother’s vision of having a pharmacy that keeps its prices especially low in order to make medicine accessible to the poor. Lesotho’s poor, who account for most of the population, have a painful and neglected history with medicine. Anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) have become a sort of staple on the government’s agenda. This dates back to the early 2000s, when there was a limited supply of the drug and it was matched with the greatest despairing demand. In order to ration supply, many laws were put into place with the intention of serving those who were most affected first; or most affluent, depending on where you were standing. During this period, only certain districts were able to receive and distribute ARVs. The problems that followed still linger in the morgues of Lesotho’s hugely successful funeral businesses. The knowledge of this information makes working at my mother’s pharmacy a bittersweet and tiring experience.

My trip down I’ll-never-work-for-my-mother-again lane was cut short by an irritating political campaign car blaring some half-baked manifesto through a megaphone. It was so loud and imposing. The sound shook me and I decided to continue with my run. I couldn’t help but lead my mind back to the leaking promises that were being yelled through the megaphone. Lesotho is a boisterous arena and the world watches as kinsmen pit themselves against each other to ensure mutual defeat. The greatest tragedy is that in this battle, the voices of politicians and their empty-vessel promises mute the sounds that deserve attention. The sounds of persistent hawkers, tired moans and violent coughs. The whimpering of thirsty issues, drowned out by the overflow of political manifestos.

It was not curiosity that stopped me outside of that clinic that day. It was the innate response of a Mosotho deafened by the continuous and corrupted clatter which filters through the radio stations, televisions, newspapers and megaphones. An automatic reaction to a battle between two voices: one booming and the other broken, neither making any sense. I stopped outside the clinic that morning because Lesotho is mourning, and I needed to mourn with Her. The sobs of the nation are not loud and desperate like the fatal promises of the politicians. Rather, they are quiet and tired, resembling a morning run or the sound of Aids.

Tsepiso Secker is final year economics student at the University of Cape Town. She is a citizen of the beautiful mountainous Kingdom of Lesotho but spent most of her schooling years in South Africa. She occasionally writes for The Money Tree magazine. Connect with her on Twitter: @Tsepspeare