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Why are we such a stingy nation?



Have you ever recommended a person for a certain job? Then sang praises about this person to that potential employer? Only to be disappointed by the person due to poor performance when they finally get employed?

Then the employer/boss comes back to you and says, “motho eane oa hao o otlela fatše maan”. Meaning, your person is underperforming badly. And indeed, when you check the person out you say to yourself, “what was I thinking?”

This is exactly what happened when I wrote a piece sometime last year, asking the nation to support a certain Prime Minister, Haai! What was I thinking?
The backlash I received from that piece was so bad. One of our neighbours back home shouted at me and said, Hee monna, nna ha ke tlo tšehetsa motho eno oa hao. (I won’t support your person).

I now realise what they were talking about. On second thoughts, I’m sorry. I really don’t know what I was smoking that day. But whatever it was, it must have been very potent.

Do you also remember a story I once told you about a guy I grew up with, that had a habit of farting in church? The joke was funny for sometime until the day he released an atomic bomb in an evening service. He had to be whisked out of church followed by a stench of ‘as, eich, eye, tea’. Do you still remember the story?

I had narrated that story because people just don’t know when to stop embarrassing themselves. This reminds me of a story that once happened in the year 2014.
Prior to that, about 25 – 30 years ago, when we were growing up, back home at my parents house, in the Airport City, my father would wake up to a visitor named Ntate Ndala, almost everyday of the week.

I tell you, almost every morning when we woke up, Ntate Ndala would be at the gate, at 06:00 a.m., waiting for my father. No, not to discuss anything to do with business, or matters of agriculture but to beg for money. For the past 30 years!

Sometimes I’d get so irritated when I tried to open the gate and find Ntate Ndala already camping outside the gate and would ask him to leave.
To paint a picture of what Mr Ndala looks like, he has a serious height disadvantage in stature but has a very mature face for his height. Ke mopostola (he is from the apostolic faith) so he always wears a head gear (tuku) of the Apostolic church.

As I said, sometimes I’d chase him away but my mother would get so upset and say, “What if Ndala is an angel? Or Jesus Christ for the second coming?” But I’d say no, there is just no way.
That’s because I had seen Mr. Ndala so intoxicated a few times in the village, under the influence of traditional beer (hopose) and there’d be no probability of Jesus Christ coming back to be a drunkard, le hona ea hopose. Just no way.

I would tell my mother that, “ha hona lenyeloi le ka taoang joalo”. (No angel can consume alcohol like him). But on the contrary, my father really liked Mr Ndala. Every time my father saw Mr Ndala at the gate, he would shout, “Dallas!”.

I mean this has been the story of our lives since we were kids growing up. The nick-name of ‘Dallas’ stuck with us since then.
So fast forward to when we were adults. In 2014, my younger sister passed away in a Bloemfontein hospital. So, my parents had spent a large part of their time in Bloemfontein when my sister was sick in hospital. Much to the disappointment of Mr Ndala. He had not seen my father for months because he would come to my house in the morning and bounce.

The morning following the passing of my sister, Mr. Ndala was at the gate at 06:00 sharp, to see his friend (my father). I walked to the gate, quite calm for a change and said to him, “You know what this is a very difficult time for my parents more especially my father, I would advise you to just give them a break so that they recover from the tragedy.” Ntate Ndala nodded yes but with disappointment written all year his face and walked away.

Guess what happened the following morning? Yours truly, Dallas (Oum Dallas ka sebele) was camping outside the gate at six in the morning. Hee banna!
No, not to deliver a bouquet of flowers or to contribute koleke. No, he was there to authenticate and validate my story and see whether his friend would suddenly appear from the house so that he begs for money for the day. No, Dallas didn’t have time for sympathy. For what?

In my mind, I said, Jeez! Now we have a problem and asked him a simple question, “Ntate Ndala, eleng hore uena u motho ea sa mameleng?” (Ntate Ndala, you do not listen. Do you?) He was calm as always, and replied back and said, “ke’a utloa Sir oa ka”. (I understand).

You know, and this thing of ‘Sir oa ka’ irritates the hell out of me. It’s like being called ‘monga’ka’ or ‘Chief’. Where do these things come from? Who coins all these phrases? ‘Mrena!’ Jesus!
So, after being called ‘Sir oa ka’, the beast in me came out and said, “phuma!” (Leave). But you see, what got me so irritated was the sense of entitlement and more especially, the lack of compassion.

In Sesotho we say, ho se utloele motho e mong bohloko. More especially if you have a ‘perception’ that they are rich. Ke morui so they don’t need any sympathy. In any case, my parents were not rich people at all.

So, this brings me to a very serious point. Very, very serious point. The province of Kwazulu-Natal was hit by serious floods earlier this month.
At the time of writing this piece, the death-toll was 448 people with 58 people still missing. 448 people! This is a size of a school.

Look, the floods ravaged a large part of the province of Kwazulu-Natal and had devastating effects to the city of Durban. This had never been seen before in modern history.
Of the 448 people that died, I understand that about ten of them are Basotho nationals. This is a real tragedy. However, what I find most unfortunate is that the Lesotho government has basically been watching the tragedy on the side-lines and had its arms folded throughout the whole ordeal.

Not even once, has the Prime Minister of Lesotho delivered a speech to convey a message of sympathy and solidarity to the South African Government. Not even once, did the Minister of Foreign Affairs travel to Pretoria to find out how the Lesotho government can offer or lend a hand in that crisis. How is that for being a neighbour? Aikh’ona Basotho!

I mean, not even once, did Lesotho think of deploying the Lesotho Defence Force in the eye of the storm. Not even once did the Lesotho government think of sending one helicopter to augment relief efforts already done by the South African Defence Force.

Look, Lesotho failed to even send a 20 litre bottle of water (sekupu sa metsi) to at least one of the families without fresh and clean drinking water. I’m not even going to suggest a shipping container full of fresh water from the Maliba-matšo river (pure water). No! What for?

But, this is a country that is right in the belly of South Africa. It is also a country that has a perception that South Africa is rich and does not need any help. Don’t you see sticking similarities between Mr. Ndala (Dallas) and our government?

At the same time, this is a country that is expecting a windfall in the form of SACU revenues from South Africa. It is also a country that is constantly expecting help from ‘big brother’, whenever there is a crisis.

The snow season is approaching and someone said this is going to be one of the harshest winter seasons in modern times. There could be a real tragedy caused by heavy snowfall this coming winter. Where will Lesotho run to for help? To South Africa?

No, after this, if I were President Ramaphosa, the next time Lesotho comes running to Pretoria to ask for help, I would just fold my arms and say, “ke lla le lona bo-Sir baka”. (I sympathise with you dearbrother). And just walk away.

Lesotho has to learn to start giving. It has to grow up and learn to act like an adult. The time of acting like a child and being helped from all corners of the earth has to come to an end.
I mean how old is this adult? He’s turning 60 in 2024. This is a man that is now entering old age.

Come on! Donate something towards the KZN tragedy. I mean, Patrice Motsepe donated R30 million from the Patrice Motsepe Foundation. Even the EFF donated some food parcels. Surely Lesotho can donate something.
In closing, why is our country so tight-fisted yet God is so generous? Why are we such a stingy nation?

‘Mako Bohloa

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