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Reinstate Tree Planting Day



Before we go into this week’s topic on trees, I have a short but interesting story to share with you. When I was a young boy growing up in a village named Mazenod, attending church on Sundays was standard practice. As I said in last week’s opinion piece, my grandmother was a staunch member of the Catholic Church so missing church was not negotiable. As you can imagine, going for an early morning Church service was something we all disliked but had to attend for one reason or the other. My grandmother would then quiz me on the message of the day after every service and I always had a standard answer, “ho itsoe re rataneng”, God is love! So there was an older boy that provided us with free entertainment at the back seats of the Church Hall. We would sit right at the back or on the upper deck level (up-stairs), where the parents couldn’t see and reach us easily. So this character that provided us with free entertainment had a habit of farting in church and we’d try to stop our selves from laughing but ended up bursting in giggles. You know the feeling of trying to stop yourself from laughing but can’t contain it. Oh, one of the priests (Brother Ramokoatsi) would walk from the altar limping all the way to the back and shout at us. “Ke tla le mula”, he would say. But as soon as he walked back, we’d start giggling. You know how young boys are. As the story goes, people never know when to stop. This form of entertainment of farting in church became a habit that the poor guy couldn’t contain. It became his normal. More like his second nature until one day, when there was an evening service and he came to church from an episode of heavy drinking. As an order of the day, he sat at one of the seats/benches right at the back and tried to do what he was famous for. But this time, unfortunately, the inevitable happened. He had to be dragged out of church with two guys holding him on each side followed by a heavy stench of you know what. I will leave the rest to your imagination but the poor guy, gained a very bad reputation in the village and a song was also composed following his embarrassing episode. He later fizzled out and died. I can’t even remember what had happened with him but that was the highlight of his life. But you see, I bring this story up because we have a very bad habit as Basotho people to normalise lawlessness. People don’t know when to stop. I mean it is exactly the same analogy that Basotho people make of lesale la khauta nkong ea kolobe. Meaning, even if you can wash a pig and apply lipstick on its lips, a swine will always be a swine. It will go straight to the nearest mud pit and do what it is famous for so that it is dirty again to its norm (semelo sa teng). I had actually planned to write about something else this week before taking a break from writing to concentrate on my construction activities but couldn’t resist touching on the shame that our country was placed under in the past week. I wasn’t planning to write about scandalous activities of our ex-diplomats but as I know how things go in this country, it will soon be a thing of the past and life will carry on as normal. Re se re shoele matsoalo. By the way, Basotho people found solace after learning that Malawian diplomats have also been chased out of South Africa. It was a situation of, “Well, at least, we are not the only ones”. Anyway, let’s talk about something positive, this is my second last piece for the year before taking a break. My mother had been asking me to write about her tree of oranges at home in Mazenod, so I thought I should make a follow-up to the topic I wrote relating to exporting fruits (oranges and peaches) to the world. I have attached a picture of a mature Orange tree that has been planted at my home in Mazenod. Yes, oranges do grow in Lesotho and quite successfully for that matter. This tree shown in the picture can bear up to 300 oranges per season with minimal watering and very low maintenance. I have learnt that some experienced farmers do harvest up to 500 oranges per tree. Now, of all the things that I fail to understand is the reason why the BCP government felt the need to cancel Tree-planting Day, when it took over power in 1993. Yes, I understand that the members of the Basotho Congress Party (BCP) were very bitter and angry and wanted to wipe out the legacy of Chief Leabua Jonathan. The BCP government even destroyed Agric Bank and Lesotho Bank (write a counter-opinion piece if you disagree). However, cancelling tree-planting day sounded more like self-sabotage to me. More like shooting yourself in the foot. It sounds more like the blunder that the 2015 coalition government made of not supporting the Lesotho medical school that was led by Dr Mokete. I mean, how do you spite Dr. Mokete over a project of national importance? We all fall sick at one point or the other and no one can tell me that we don’t need doctors. But because we are a country that thrives on mediocrity and self-sabotage, our leaders found it necessary to shoot down attempts to have an institution that trains doctors. In conclusion, we need to re-introduce Tree-planting Day for various reasons. Firstly, if we can focus on planting fruit trees aggressively, this country can pull itself out of poverty by the year 2040. By aggressively, I mean, if we could plant 1 million tress of oranges and 1 million peach trees, we can harvest twice a year. We could harvest about 500 million oranges every winter season. At a rate of 1USD per orange on the export market, take a calculator and tell me what 500 million oranges translate to. We can easily achieve a target of 1 million trees if one household could plant 10 trees. That’s assuming we have 100 thousand households in Lesotho. I tried to research some data on the Bureau of Statistics (BoS) website, but everything was just a mess. Anyway, this industry can be way bigger than the diamond industry and put cash directly in the pockets of our people. By the way, just a week before I travelled to Durban about three weeks ago, the Durban port welcomed the largest reefer vessel in the world (The MV Cool Eagle). The purpose was to export a record-breaking 163 million cartons of citrus fruits (oranges, lemons and naartjies) to Europe and Russia. 163 millions cartons with an export of 200 million cartons projected next year! Why reinvent the wheel. We have a winning formula across the road. What are we waiting for! Re emetse eng Basotho? For a good leader? ‘Mako Bohloa

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