My Good Old Days

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— By Lealimo from Lesotho

Growing up in the village of Semphetenyane has always been magical to me, those years even today still colour my mind with happiness.

Semphetenyane is a small village in the outskirts of Maseru city in Lesotho, surrounded by rivers, valleys, meadows, and beautiful mountains. During rainy season one can see the rainbow touch the mountains. 
I have since lived with my father in his early years. He was a very strong hard working man. In his early forties, he always put on his khaki trousers and matching shirts made of very strong material. To complement his attire, he usually put on his black boots and big straw hat to protect himself from the sun while working in the fields. I always thought he looked like an 18th-century kind of man and always wondered why he loved his khaki clothing so much. We had lots of cattle, sheep, and chickens in our yard.

Our source of income was mainly on sheep rearing, selling eggs, and milk. My father had so many rules, but there were two that were most important among them, that he wanted me to abide and live by. I was not allowed to arrive home after the sunset, and most importantly, to never tell a lie. Should I break any of the rules, I knew that he would make me sweep the whole big yard that was dirtied by animals. Even though I only had two rules to follow, to me as a child following only those two rules felt like he was challenging me – it was almost like saying I should fill the jars with honey and not lick my fingers. Though I always knew what my punishment would be should I break any of the rules, to me it felt like it was worth it after all the fun I would have with my friends.

When I arrived late he would say, “Leah, where is the sun? Come inside the house when you can show me the sun.” Then he would make me draw a picture of the sun. I would sit by the door sulking and sad, drawing. Eventually he would let me in, but I would still pay for it.


I remember one Friday afternoon when I was about 16-years-old and on my way back from school, my three friends and I decided to go for a swim in the river. We swam and played until the sunset. On our way back, I told my friends about my father’s rules.

They laughed at me and somehow it made me a bit uneasy, because I wondered if their parents ever set any rules for them. They advised me to lie and say I had gone to see my grandmother in a nearby village, though I didn’t like the idea, I went ahead with it anyways. When I got home, my father was very furious, but before he could ask, I told him about my visit to grandma’s house. He was not so convinced, a bit reluctant to believe me, but he let it go.

I felt a relief seeing that he bought my story.


This became a habit for me to go to the river with my friends for a few Fridays after school, and then I would lie to him. One time, I was not aware that my grandmother was coming to visit us that day for the weekend. As usual, I lied to him, only to wake up in the morning to find my grandmother sitting at our coffee table making breakfast. I couldn’t believe my eyes, I started shaking with fear and shame, remembering what I had just told my father the previous night.

My father was disappointed and I could see it in his eyes. As punishment, he made me sweep our yard and our neighbour’s yard for the next 10 days, because I had lied to him. Even today, he still has pictures that he would make me draw each time I arrived home late.


All these memories built me to be the woman I am today. Though he doesn’t make me draw anymore, whenever I arrive home late, he still reminds me that if I wasn’t an adult, he would make me draw.

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My Lesotho

lealimo

— By Lealimo from Lesotho

Lesotho is a very mountainous country, blessed with rivers, waterfalls and valleys. Lesotho depends on water and animals, its our biggest economy.

I recently came back from my father’s home village, one of the remotest and very rural places in my country called Thaba-Tseka. It is about 8 hours’ drive from the capital city and then 2 hours ridding on a horse to get to the village since it’s inaccessible by car.
Before technology and everything else that comes with it, before “stilettos and make-up” and the current lifestyle, there’s culture and family, where I grew up and came from.

The pictures below portray a good story of where I come from. They represent culture and family. These young girls draw water from this spring each day for domestic purposes and the young boy herd sheep riding a horse. They are my cousins. They do all this chores after school, which is an indication that education is important to them. I am not an exception as I went through the same route. This woman is our grandmother and she prepares dinner for everyone while they also offer assistance to her.

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My great grand parents and I grew up in this village and under the same circumstances. The roundavels you see is the original plan of Basotho houses in rural villages made of mud. In the capital city the same house is built in a modernised way and its part of Lesotho’s emblem. The very same culture and family lifestyle moulded me to be a proud Mosotho woman who knows where she comes from.

Here are other picture from rural Lesotho, my Lesotho:

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Societal Pressure & HIV – a Harmful Connection

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— By Thato from Lesotho

Earlier this year, I laid to rest a very close cousin of mine, Chikabo. The last I saw of him was in 2014 at the Maseru border. He was so full of life and always had some insane story to share. I vividly recall how he would always make me miss my ride with his never ending hilarious stories. Even with all my intent, I never got to see him when he fell ill; I wanted to remember him as I knew him, happy and full of life.

He died of AIDS related illness.

Before that I also laid my uncle to rest. Born in 1970, Uncle Sam was such a sweet man. When I went to see him, he was a shadow of his former self; his skeleton was sprawled on the bed and I just felt the need to add more meat to his skinny structure and bring him to his old form. He arrived in January from Johannesburg, South Africa. I got a call from my mother telling me that he had arrived and was very sick. Uncle Sam was HIV positive. He made the statistics of the many friends and relatives I have lost to HIV/AIDS.

HIV & Denial

The sad thing about these two loves of mine is that although they had known all along that they were infected with HIV, they both admitted to having ceased to take their medication when they were feeling better. By the time they wanted to resume medication intake, it was already too late. I am not sure whether I am angry at them for having cared less about their lives or angry at the stigma surrounding HIV, which has put so much pressure on people, to the extent that people would rather die than face this monster. In Lesotho for instance, there still exist people who view HIV as the white person or urban people’s disease, while others would blame witchcraft when they test positive.

Any HIV related topic has become so cliché, yet people are still not educated. At the beginning of the voluntary male medical circumcision campaigns in the country, I could hear the excitement in the air about the newly found freedom to have unprotected sex. The fact that male circumcision reduces the risk of female-to-male sexual transmission of HIV by approximately 60% translated differently to many, so I assume. To many this meant freedom to have unprotected sex. When all is said and done, comes denial, which is seen when people refuse to take medication, stop taking the medication when they feel better or resort to traditional remedies instead.

Of the many funeral services I attended where I knew quite well that the person was HIV positive, it was never disclosed how one’s life came to an end. The cause of death was always pinned to tuberculosis or witchcraft. This denial bothers me deeply. The fact that there are other diseases which are more dangerous than HIV should be comforting to people infected with HIV. Statistics shriek daily about the horrors of ever increasing diabetes and cancer related deaths, yet people are still more worried about a disease which, with the help of antiretroviral, is manageable.

HIV & Women

This is sad news for Lesotho, who is rated second in terms of HIV prevalence. Studies have revealed that women are the ones mostly affected by HIV, the very same studies which have shown that women test more than their male counter parts. Patriarchal society has exposed women to this scourge and other things like gender based violence. Women in Lesotho are still seen as minors, which deprives them of the negotiating power when it comes to sexual matters in their relationships. A woman in Lesotho cannot demand the use of condoms in the home because such behavior is frowned upon. Men are the ones with the final say in the majority of matters Our society has okay-ed men’s habits of dating several women while women are expected not to question such behavior. This has not only exposed women to HIV infections it also has contributed to other forms of gender-based violence.

While the Gender agenda has placed so much emphasis on gender equality, the need has never been this great for Basotho women to be empowered to own the negotiation power when it comes to sexual matters in their relationships. Women should be able to insist on the use of condom if they feel a need for such, they should also be able to say no to sex without being made to feel guilty. The unfortunate thing is that a woman is always blamed when their husband passes on, either she infected him or bewitched him if not some silly story far related to HIV.

It is quite unsettling to belong to a society that condones such nonsensical behaviors; this exerts so much pressure on an individual who sees things otherwise. I always feel like a black sheep and a rebel when I talk with my friends and colleagues about the need to use condoms in our relationship; be it with a spouse or a partner. It is worth noting that research and studies have indicated that in Lesotho women are more forthcoming when it comes to HIV testing, while men are rather reluctant. The statistics goes on to show that women are mostly infected with HIV as compared to their counterparts. The use of a condom in the home should not be negotiable; this has the potential of decreasing HIV infections as well as maintaining happy relations where there won’t be a blame game when things turn sour.