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This country can be turned around



ON Monday, one of the world’s poorest nations marked its 55th independence. However, I think there was very little to celebrate in a country that has been crippled by poverty, unemployment, chronic instability and desperate hunger. One would think that after 55 years of independence this nation would have learned a great deal from her successes and failures. While we have our strengths, it’s our weaknesses that trouble me and many others who love our country. Our weaknesses will not be overcome until we tap into the principled women and men and convince them to run for political office. We need people who believe that doing what is best for the country should override party allegiance and politics of self-interest. The best and brightest have shied away from political life and left us with the tares of the harvest. On Monday as we were grieving 55 years of independence, a friend of mine, Lineo Badia read a beautiful and refreshing article written by ‘Moso Sematlane where he argues that “countries are living, breathing things, an organ composed of us, million little cells holding the part together. All living things are in the process of dying, some faster than others. I cannot place a date or time when Lesotho started dying, nor can I place one on the eventual and inevitable end. But the decline is all around us, in the crooked streetlights, in the cracked pavements, in the latest politician who has misappropriated state funds. And yet I know that this art form – crass, lowly, honest, beautiful – is a response to this perpetual death. An attempt create a new life in the face of decay.” I want to be the first to admit that our country is dying. When you see potholes that eventually turn into ponds, that shows we are in trouble. These ponds remain there for years and drivers in the neighbourhood have found ways to go around them, then you should know we are a dying nation. Or at worst young unemployed boys pretending to fix the potholes and asking for a few pennies. This country is slowly dying and for some reason Basotho have accepted the sad reality. Everything is getting worse. Our institutions are broken. Our economic condition is deteriorating, the educational system is failing. It is like we have no pride of ownership of this country and will not do much to fix it. There is decay in all areas of our society. Indeed we are in the process of rotting. There is so much rot in this nation. Have you noticed how everything around you is deteriorating? I went to Lesotho High School grounds on Independence Day to watch some boys play soccer. I was accompanied by Lineo Badia. As we passed some buildings we noticed a decline in standards and I remarked that the place is not well maintained, then she responded “it is the reflection of the current state of our nation, everything in this nation is deteriorating.” That is the sad reality. I agree with Sematlane. This nation is dying. I cannot only hope it will not be an end to our existence as a people but we will experience a rebirth. If countries have been turned around, Lesotho can also be turned around. I hope like a seed we are in the process of decay, we are dying in order to give birth to a new life. For a long time I drew issue with this concept of seeds dying to give life, that a seed would need to die in order to become a plant. Why did I have trouble with this? Mostly because, in my mind, a seed doesn’t die when it becomes a plant. Quite the opposite, in fact; a seed is full of the potential of life (and continues to be so) as it becomes a plant! The problem, though, was with how I viewed the process. I was looking at it from an observation point of view, some would even say it is a scientific perspective. The seed is planted, it undergoes some sort of process (it varies a little bit on the plant type, but remains essentially the same), and then a sprout appears, and grows into a full-fledged plant. But what part of the seed? Can you dig up the plant, and find its seed down at the bottom, with roots growing from its insides? No! It essentially died to itself! It ceases to be a seed in order that the plant would live, it can no longer find its identity in that of its old self, a seed. And in this way, it has died, it has ceased to exist as its original self. It becomes something far different, and lives a new kind of life. From the “potential” of life that is contained within the seed comes a new life, capable of producing fruit. Where a seed cannot produce fruit, its plant form can. It can’t do this on its own, though, it needs to be planted, nurtured, and nourished. Some seeds, though, do not ‘die to themselves.’ Perhaps they are rotten, or are lacking some necessary element, be that internal or external (such as fertilizer, soil, or sunlight), or they just don’t take a proper hold in the ground. These seeds do not grow into anything other than themselves, and they are eventually forgotten, lost in the dirt, or thrown into a fire to be burned. This is seen in the process of countries that have turned around its fortunes. I can only hope and pray that the decay I see around me is the beginning of a process of rebirth. That Lesotho is dying to itself! It ceases to be an old self in order that the new reformed nation would live. I hope we will no longer find our identity in that old self, a rotten nation. My friends and fellow countrymen hope must not die. Much has gone into trying to shape the nation into what she should be. Many have died to protect our independence. Let us celebrate but with deep reflection. Let us embrace a collective determination to make this nation of Moshoeshoe one we can all be proud of. We can if we so choose. This country can be turned around. Ramahooana Matlosa

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