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May the Lord protect Lesotho and Basotho



Less than two weeks into the new year and we are already missing 2020! Oh, how naïve we were last year, making jokes about how 2020 should end so that things could go back to normal! And we got our wish, the New Year arrived to much pomp and ceremony but alas, things decidedly went from bad to worse. Here we are then within our much-anticipated 2021 and the death toll keeps rising. We have moved to Covid-19 being something that other countries struggle with to a disease that we talk about no longer in statistics but in actual names. It is no longer 20 something deaths but it is now Mr So and So and my cousin X, Y, Z and through it all Basotho have one key message: “Morena o boloke Lesotho le Basotho”. Now I am not so much a heathen as to say that we should not be leaning on prayer in these difficult times but my experience with this great nation and prayer is that, rather than a firm rod that we lean on to support our efforts, it so often becomes a crutch. Basotho have a tendency to lean on prayer whilst doing absolutely nothing else in the way of solutions. And so when I hear that God must protect Lesotho and its people I am filled, not with hope, but with fear. It was for instance our reliance on godly blessings that God put us here in the first place. Last year when the virus was ravaging through many countries, Lesotho for the first time in as long as I can remember, got lucky (we are generally not people disposed to luck). We had no reported cases, sure some say they were being hidden but the fact remains that we had no official cases. Things looked like for once we could have something going on for us, we were poised for greatness. Even when we started to have cases, they were few and far between and our death toll was relatively low. People even started questioning if it was our altitude that was protecting us. We basked in the glory of defying the odds and being on the list of countries who could boast to kicking the virus on its butt! But as usual we got cocky, we started believing that we were the chosen ones, God’s favourite children and therefore invincible. Instead of working hard to maintain this good fortune we once again believed that Morena o tla boloka Lesotho le Basotho and we became reckless. We went as far as courting the virus from neighbouring countries! Who can forget the ululations last December when thousands of Basotho crossed over from South Africa with nary a Covid test certificate in sight! Did Basotho stuck in South Africa deserve to come home for the holidays? Of course. Should they have been allowed to cross into the country without proper testing or at least the mandatory quarantine? Only a fool would think that was a good idea but fools we have proven ourselves over and over to be. We spent the whole of December frolicking in the streets, and this includes my own self. I was out frolicking, wearing a mask like a passport to gain me entry into places and once inside taking it off to even go as far as kissing people whose Covid status I know nothing about. This is not just me, all of us frolicked. From the young people who went to the now regrettable all white party, to grannies who attended church services and to our family gatherings Basotho were living their best lives like there was not a virus doing the rounds. What were we relying on, you might ask? Nothing but the good Lord above. And when the time came for the festivities to end our people went to huddle together at the border like social distancing is a phrase they have never heard. Spending hours and sometimes days huddled together waiting to get rapid tests so they could cross over into South Africa and when those tests came back positive and they were denied entry they simply got into taxis, went back into villages and the spread continued. So now here we are, barely weeks after our summer of festivities and enjoyment and the price we are paying for our foolishness is a heavy one. The death toll continues to rise every day and while it once took the elderly and the immune-compromised it is now killing young men and women, the nation’s hope and there is not a single thing we can do about it except drink copious amount of ginger tea and hope that somehow we will be spared. Hospitals are filled to capacity. We have no oxygen and even local chemists have run out of vitamin C. We are sitting ducks and as much as it is comforting to blame the government on their lack of a proper response, we cannot deny that maybe, just maybe, we may have enjoyed the festive season a bit much. As to whether the government let us down is a matter for the political columnists but even us as a people let ourselves down and now all we can do as a nation is what we always do when the chickens of our bad decisions come home to roost – pray to a God that we ignore for most of the time. Perhaps we will make it and if we do I sincerely hope we learned a valuable lesson from all this and as we say Morena a boloke Lesotho le Basotho. Thakane Rethabile Shale

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