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We’ve torn our social fabric



I wrote this opinion piece after being informed that my face towel had been used as a scrub to clean the inside of a toilet seat three days in a row. I understand that my one-year-old daughter has a hobby of cleaning toilet seats. She must have seen a water-well in the toilet seat and thought, “this cloth (face towel) might come in handy to do some cleaning for the day”. I was informed about the news three days later as, ‘by the way, before I forget’. You can just image how upset I am. In any case, if you sense any form of temper in this piece, you know where it emanates from. Let’s go into the business of the day. I was in Maseru over the past two weeks to attend some business meetings and a family related event. One of my brothers (cousin) was ordained a Catholic priest about six months ago. So my family organised mokete in the village of Ha Sekepe about two weekends ago to celebrate the ordination of Father Paul Bohloa, so it was quite a celebration. We have a priest in the house. He will come in handy to cleanse the souls of our dirty politicians. A couple of days later from the village celebrations, I met a very good friend of mine named Mpusi Makara, at Ouh La La coffee shop. He!, what a pleasant surprise. He even offered me a cup of cappuccino. We had a good conversation about his (Mpusi’s) recent trip to Dubai for the Dubai Expo. I then told Mpusi about my experience on my last trip to Dubai when I nearly got myself arrested. I was in the Dubai Metro from the Mall of Dubai to the Dubai Marina where I was staying. On the way there, there was something particularly strange about the sitting arrangement in the train. All men were packed towards the end of the carriage and a few seats were left vacant in front. So, I thought to myself, “No man, this does not make sense. Let me just grab one of the vacant seats”. So I walked boastfully towards the front, grabbed a seat and crossed my legs (ka hara four). Then one lady (I suspect she was from Kenya) walked towards me (a nanya) and whispered in my ear, “the seats in front are reserved for women and children. Please move before you get yourself in trouble”. You should’ve seen me jumping out of the seat and running towards the back of the train, where all men were packed like sardines. Those Arabs in Dubai mean business when it comes to law and order. They can even chop your hand if it has a habit of stealing. Ha se ha tali joalo ka Lesotho. As much as that incident got my heart beating uncontrollably, in my mind I thought, “Man this is an amazing place. A place that prioritises the lives and wellbeing of its women and children. Wow! This would never happen in my home country”. But the question is why not? I write this piece with a bit of anger in my heart. My blood is actually boiling as a result of witnessing an emotional funeral of Mme ’Mahlompho Matela that took place last weekend. Her death is unacceptable and brings shame to all men. Hee hona le banna ba tellang naheng ena ea Moshoeshoe. Silly men and arrogant men and not in any way remorseful for their actions. It got me thinking of what a sick society we have become. I mean a society that has decided to abuse its women and children is a finished society. Finished! We are a society that has decided to tear its social fabric apart. But what is this fabric society that I’m talking about? In simple terms, it is the glue that holds a society together. A common understanding in society. Ka Sesotho ke botho. This social fabric named Botho has now been eroded and shredded into pieces, hoba ha re ithate Basotho. That is the reason why men have become so sick. So sick that they engage in corrupt activities at the expense of the most vulnerable citizens. We have a nation that has sick men that rape elderly citizens (bo-nkhono). A nation that has sick men that rape defenceless children. How sick is that? We’re a nation that abuses its women, the builders of a nation. But what is wrong with Basotho men in general? I actually wanted to explore a term named a social pact. I actually wanted to expand more onto its meaning as a common understanding between citizens in a society. I remember a time when men were still men and had a common understanding between them. There was a saying term in Sesotho that said, leqeba la monna e mong ha le tšeuoe. Meaning, men do not ridicule one another. This was at a time when men were real men. Nowadays, men gossip on each other. Men! This was an unwritten law but a common understanding in society. There are many more laws or principles that are not written but have to do with the social fabric named Botho. At the very core of this is to respect one another (Ho hlomphana). This is what baffles me the most. Modern Basotho men do not respect one another, they don’t respect women, they don’t respect children and at the top of everything, they don’t respect themselves. They respect nothing. Not even God. Nothing! What kind of a man unzips his pants around the Cathedral area and urinate in full view of school children? This does not need any form of policing but a simple form of Botho (self-respect). I have written about this disturbing habit of men urinating everywhere and most disturbingly, in front of children but nothing gets done about it. This is a true reflection of what a broken society becomes, when its men lose their fabric, their make-up and their construct. These are the symptoms of a nation on auto-pilot, where pilots are absent in the cockpit. This is what happens when a country has clowns for leaders. Men will continue doing the most atrocious acts to women and children and none of the clowns will stand up and condemn the bad behaviour. I have one thing to say to all leaders in this country, your silence means consent. Your silence means consent! Ka nnete we have a huge leadership vacuum in our country. We don’t have courageous men that can stand up to protect the lives of women and children. In Lesotho, we have grown men that turn their heads and hide them in the sand so as to deafen the cries of women and children. We are a finished nation. Completely finished! This is simply a leaderless state. I will change my narrative the day Lesotho has leaders that will stand up and have the courage to condemn this demonic behaviour. The day Lesotho has leaders that will push for harsh consequences for men that kill women and children. For now, Lesotho has no leadership in all spheres of society. This is shameful! RIP Mme Mahlompho Matela. May your soul rest in eternal peace. Ours is to keep the fight for justice alive and we will not rest until justice is served to you, your children and all the women of Lesotho.

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