Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Basotho Bits: Cultural facts about Lesotho

   Can't lie.
   When I first saw the word "Lesotho" printed on my Peace Corps Invitation letter last year, I had to Google the place.
   "The hell is a Lee-soh-tho?" I thought. Had never heard of the country.
   Since I've been here, though, I've learned many things about "The Mountain Kingdom in the Sky."
   Briefly, Lesotho (pronounced Le-soo-too) has about 1.8 million people. It's a gorgeous country full of humble and welcoming folks.
   About 40 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. And the country has the negative distinction of having the third highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the world. About 23 percent of the people here have the disease.
   That said, there's lots of beauty and interesting cultural tidbits here. For example:

The bo-'m'e (women) carry babies on their backs:

And the women carry stuff on their heads:

I will always be impressed with this. I tried to do it but my neck almost broke!

The Basotho are known for their beautiful blankets that they wear year round:

The women wear blankets around their hips to warm their ovaries.

Horses are a common form of transportation here, especially in rural areas with unpaved roads:

Donkeys are also a form of transportation. Many people use them as pack mules to transport huge bags of maize meal:

Women climb the mountains and hills in heels:

This is my 74-year-old host mother climbing the mountain to our village. In heels. HEELS!!! I can barely do this in hiking boots!! LOL!

Anytime a parent dies, the family gets together for a feast called khutsoana, which means orphan:

The orphans (young and old) must have their hair shaved. If not, they'll have bad luck.

Bana (children) at my school play morabaraba, a traditional Basotho game played mainly by bo-ntate (men):

These are just a few things I've learned about Basotho culture in my nine months here.
Very interesting. And intriguing.
What do you think? What say you?

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