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We are a nation with no shame



Ahh Lesotho, the land of lush green mountain tops and hapless simple folk. I often wonder on whether if it was a television programme would it fall under comedy or tragedy? Or perhaps a tragic comedy of Shakespearean proportions. Back in the day when Moshoeshoe I ruled this place the Basotho were described as a nation of peace, a title they hold on passionately to this day. The extent to which we turn the other cheek in this place would surprise even Jesus himself. One has to wonder though, is what we call peace simply cowardice? Now I know better than to call a whole nation to arms but doesn’t it get tiring, always being the butt of Africa’s jokes? Always waiting for a handout and always forgiving. Take the current predicament being faced by the whole world, for example. In most nations even the worst of them the media attention has been on Covid 19. Everything is focused on winning the war against a deadly virus that threatens to wipe out our entire existence but not here. Here, nestled “safely” behind our mountains we are still focused on how to topple the government of the day. Why are we toppling the government when we might not live to see the next prime minister sworn into office is a mystery I have not the strength to deal with. In true peaceful (read cowardly) Basotho fashion toppling an administration involves more shuffling and filing of papers than an actual rebellion. We cannot even be honest and direct with our insurgency, no; we must file paper after paper. Talk after talks. And while we are displaying our intellectual prowess the virus rages on. The world is now more than a year into the virus and other countries have displayed their victory over their counterparts by coming up with vaccines, some have built world class hospitals and others can boast that they have procured the virus faster than most and what can we proudly stand on? That our leading team against the virus has just been evicted from their premises for failure to pay rent! How do we show our faces at the next SADC or AU meeting against the likes of South Africa when we are waiting for MTN, a South African telecommunications company to donate vaccines? As a Mosotho you cannot stand here and say you did not feel even the slightest bit of hope when you heard that MTN was planning on donating vaccines because you knew that it might be your best chance to get the vaccine in time. Back in varsity we used to turn up our noses at South Africans, especially the black ones from the township, what with their broken English, their ghetto demeanor and their general uncultured ways. Here in Lesotho, we could and can go toe-to-toe with the best intellects that world class universities have to offer. We can hold our own in discussing the difference between Manet and Monet and chances are if you throw a stone by Kingsway Street it will hit someone with a PhD. We are educated and have credentials as long as our statement of debt to the IMF but what we are is educated fools. Apart from robust debates whilst downing coffee at Ouh la la and more bourgeoisies than our bank accounts can support what have we to show for our so-called intelligence and culture! We are a nation of begging cowards hiding behind stacks of papers and if ever there was an event that exposed us it was the Covid-19 crisis. Funds have always been looted in Lesotho, there is nothing new there but one would have hoped that with our lives hanging in the balance we would have gotten angrier, demanded more accountability but as already established we all waited in line to get our piece of the pie and failing which we wrote long think pieces such as this one without actually doing anything about it. Those of us who manage to come out of this alive will look back at this period in our history and blame the government as we are often wont to do but the truth is we have the government that we deserve. A government is only good as its voters and given our laissez faire attitude towards our own responsibilities where did we think we would get a world-class government? One had hoped that in the face of near certain death we would develop some fighting spirit, some accountability but that was once again disappointingly not the case. We rested on our laurels secure in the knowledge that someone perhaps the Americans, maybe the Chinese would soon grow exasperated and donate the vaccine to us! Have we no shame? Basotho have this baffling belief that countries with stellar governance just stumbled upon good leaders failing to realize that good leaders are made from good communities. We can be given the best prime minister the world has ever seen but he or she will come across a nation of cowards with no accountability or pride and we will be back from where we started. Here we are fighting for job titles when we should be fighting for our lives. A nation of intellectuals waiting for the government to procure donations while spending all day on social media arguing baseless conspiracy theories and bemoaning the fact that the lockdown means an alcohol ban. I was once told that a good article must end with a suggested solution to the issue discussed but short of restarting this whole country I have no solution to give. Thakane Rethabile Shale

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