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The sign of the times



With the blanket slung on his shoulder and dragging behind him on the barrier line of the black, hard, and cold tarmac where he walks, the young dark skinned boy trudges on oblivious to the motor car behind him where my companion and I sit observing this strange figure; a naked young boy obviously detached from the world of the road (though he is walking on the road), and the only thing he can perhaps see is the white dotted line of the road which his feet seem stuck on to.

As we pass him, I look at his naked figure (or as we would say in Sesotho, “with not a string around his waist”), can see that he is prepubescent for there is not a sprout of the tell-tale hair that grows on the groin of one when they reach teenagehood, his manhood dangles in front of him pointing forward to a destination we do not know for we are just passing by (and it too is not a manhood yet, but the innocent looking penis of boyhood still with its “kettle spout” attached).

The eyes are strange cameras that record everything in the frontal cortex if the seen are temporary, but the expression in the boy’s eyes must have gone straight into the hippocampus of my brain for I cannot get the sad lonely lost expression of desolation of one who has given up on this world; it is not an expression one can expect to see in the eyes of a child that lives in a country that claims to be the doyen of peace: it is an expression one sees on the faces of those refugees from the war-torn regions of the world that have seen too much suffering.

On a road to Semonkong by a river’s bend just before one climbs the long meandering road up Ha-Mantša, I saw the first sign of the times: and desperate times they are if those eyes are to be believed. The song ‘Sign of the Times’ sung by Harry Styles is the sad sweet tale of a young mother giving birth to a child but she has only five minutes to live and she is told:

The child is fine, but you are not going to make it… and the mother has five minutes to tell the child, ‘Go forth and conquer.’

Prince wrote Sign O’ the Times released back in 1987 and its title is said to come from the Seventh-day-Adventist magazine Signs of the Times which is said to encourage readers to lead joyful Christian lives as they await the “soon return” of Jesus.
The lyrics to the song pose contemplative questions to the current trends in man’s history of time:

Hurricane Annie ripped the ceiling of a church and killed everyone inside

You turn on the telly and every other story is tellin’ you somebody died

A sister killed her baby ‘cause she couldn’t afford to feed it

And yet we’re sending people to the moon . . .

Both songs pose questions that have me scratching my dreadlocks thin, questions that the politics and followers of this world claim they will solve and never do in their lobbying rhetoric before they enter parliament and government.
There are basic or fundamental human rights, but the most paramount amongst them is the salient Equal Right. How the world prioritises befuddles my mind, how the economists think anyone will decipher their gibberish evades my understanding.

The truth of the matter is that we have a devil in our midst in this country, and that devil wears the countenance of vengeance, and it began well before the 1966 independence; it began with the now advanced ‘witch hunt’ that sees citizens pointing fingers instead of sorting out prevalent problems the nation faces.
I often feel some of the matters that leak (in fact are doused in buckets) into the public sphere should at best be kept behind closed doors, to be dealt with by the authorities concerned in private.
If what occurs in camera ends infringing on the rights of the unconcerned nation, then infringement of civil rights by authorities is what clicks in my mind.
I often think judges in those wigs look good, for these are after all men that speak Latin and legalese as the sparrow chirps its morning song. These are figures that have read enough documents to fill entire archives to overflowing.
It is good that they judge for they have read and have presided over drawn out cases, and in the process have gained the knowledge and the experience to mete out judgements.

It is not good when the judge is an attention-seeking bum in fake Brazilian hair typing posts on social media to confuse the masses.
Read the posts on some of the serious cases that should have at best not reached the public sphere, and you will understand the utter carelessness with which some of the matters that are threats to the peace of this land are handled.

Gossips, pederasts cum legal opinion experts, speculators and the shallow minded sort of individuals that should have permanent excision of vocal chord and other organs of communication seem to rule the day.
That the fool can be granted the room to speak to such an extent that they confuse the masses with their one-sided opinion on what should and should not be done to sort out this country’s problems is not a good sign. It is evidence of how regressive we have become.

I have had a copy of Chronicles of Basutoland for a brief while, and this book, published in 1967 by Dr. R. C. Germond, covers in Chapter 18 (Abandonment) the story of how Morena Moshoeshoe oa Pele negotiated the current frontiers of Lesotho.
What one finds is a figure who had deep-seated belief in the wisdom of the Bible though he was not yet converted, a king who exclaimed with fervour:

Fear drink! Let the drunkard be tolerated by none, whether Black or White!

The author (footnote states Maitin, J., Berea, May 1854) concludes the chapter with the words:

. . . heathen though he may still be, I believe that Moshoeshoe is nearer to the kingdom of God than many who call themselves Christians. Everything I had to say was listened to in a serious and friendly manner.

These words are from May 1854, exactly 163 years to this day, back then, matters were handled in a civil manner; Moshoeshoe could speak to Sekonyela even after the many battles they had fought to tame a land.
The land was tamed, but these days, it appears that the savages of the Lifaqane are crawling out of the woodwork, and the old spirit of reconciliation and forgiveness has faded as political councils play judge, jury, and executioner in a land they did not tame.

Drunk are these figures on the potent intoxicating brews of power, and the basis of what and who we are as a nation and as Basotho seems to be forgotten.

The cornerstone of this nation has been thrown away by these councils of witch-hunters that have since before the time I sprouted the first crop of groin hairs been heckling over how this land should be governed.  We have transgressed in the business of doing politics of the pseudo kind . . . with the country in tow. I do not think Morena Moshoeshoe oa Pele was referring to fire water directly, what he may have referring to was the rampage and utter disregard for the basic rights of others that comes with the inebriation of the ‘fire waters’ from the West.

The current political system is drawn from a Western model and well, excuse the frank term, the “natives” have made quite a mess of it. The originators of the concept live in relative peace and are benefiting from the process of well-run politics.
With well-run health and social welfare systems, correctional facilities, disciplined police forces (in some cases not even carrying guns to enforce law), enviable financial and economic development strategies that are implemented to the last letter, the West is benefiting from its politics; the best one hears from here is just pipe dreams that never actually see the light of the day.

Instead of implementing their campaign strategies and to deliver on their promises, the African politician one sees picks up the cosh, the cudgel, and the baton on the day they are sworn in (with their palm resting on the Bible).
Then the dogs of war are unleashed on those the witchdoctors of the day have smelt out as the witches. It is never peace the politics of this land have been after; stilted talk and empty promises is what has been delivered consistently by this clique of humongous loan seekers.

I saw the boy walking naked in the middle of the road as a sign that the politics of this land are just a snake charming recital where the charmer shows the snake his hand just so that they can touch the back of the cobra’s hood to impress the audience.

From the moment I realised that the political governments of this land shall never land one a career or a gardening job even after a doctorate, I made the decision to walk the middle path, that is, not to follow with fervour the mendacious terms many are lured with to the polling booth.
It is not an easy decision to make, but when one sees a pre-teen lunatic (or tormented soul if I have to be diplomatic), and the best that one hears is talk about who is right and who is wrong on the too many radio stations of this here piece of land, the only thing that comes to mind is the fact that no one really cares.
Those that stain their index finger in the name of some vague heroic cause seem delusional if one has to wonder why the obvious signs of our times are ignored and in their place some political manifesto that has not worked these past 50 years is given precedence.
I guess that boy is perhaps not fully mad yet, he may just be an orphan, or his family may just be poor (for poverty too has a way of rearranging a man’s pattern of thought to the extent that they lose their mind), if he is, I wonder what the social services are doing about the welfare of such vulnerable children as he obviously is.

There could be a horde of other children like he is, and all of them suffer under different painful conditions. The only time someone will be willing to do them a service (not this disservice they are experiencing), if my safe assumption based on evidence serves me right; it will be at an affair full of pomp and merriment, with cameras flashing, pens scratching notepads, and social media websites filling up with posts from bootlicking followers of the “kind” figure who pretends that what they are doing is not part of their original mandate.

Oliver Twist resisted and asked the system for more than what he was getting from the system, and he was caned for it.
The poor and the vulnerable are begging this system to give them more attention with regard to their seemingly endless problems.
The system is busy conducting the biggest witch-hunt of the era, and comrades-in-arms from neighbouring hamlets have even been invited to bring their hounds to sniff out the witches.

Meanwhile, from this exalted vantage point on which one stands, one can see storm clouds gather on the horizon.

The native always sought to impress his master, and the native lost the land, lost his women, lost his children, lost his flock, but more than everything, the native lost himself, could not even recognise his countenance mirrored in the faces of those he came across as he rightly should.

But the vengeful man cannot see clearly, even if the signs are written in reflective paint on a fluorescent neon background. Wake up, the land shall never benefit from the witch-hunt. If life be a road, then you need to read the signs to get to your destination.
Otherwise you will be lost, stuck in a political moment you cannot get out of.

Tsepiso S Mothibi

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