Saturday, December 21, 2013

I met the King but it ain't no thing!

   I recently took a trip to the national park in the northern part of the country.
Peace Corps threw a braai for trainees and I was invited, since I'd been helping with training.
   The King was there, too. Like, thee King of Lesotho, King Letsie III.
   After swimming in the rock pool, I hiked up to the park's five-star lodge with some other PCV friends.
   Then, I saw the King.
   King Letsie III is very beloved by the people here. He's 50 years-old and has three children with the queen, Queen Masenate.
   When I saw him, he was posing for a photo with a waiter on the lodge's deck. The King was wearing a tan cowboy hat, a white long-sleeved shirt and khakis. His skin was as smooth as caramel and shiny like a bowling ball.
    After the photo op, I casually walked up to him and extended my hand.
   "Hi your majesty. My name is Jennifer Jiggetts and it's nice to meet you. I'm a Peace Corps Volunteer living in Mafeteng, and I'm very nervous right now."
   "Nice to meet you," he laughed. "And I know that you're nervous."
   "Can I take a picture with you?" I asked.
   "I'm going to eat now," he gently said.
   "OK, nice to meet you, your majesty," I said.
   Off he walked into the lodge to eat.
   Then (after the fact!!!) his security guard came running up to me.
   "Are you American?" he asked.
   "Yes, I'm married. My husband's in America," I said, because I thought he asked me if I was married.
   "Well, people just don't walk up to the king like that," he retorted.
   I had to butter him up.
   "I know, I just saw the king and got excited," I said.
   He forgave me for my ill manners and I went to go drink perhaps the best house wine I've ever had in this country. As I sipped, I thought about how cool it was to meet the king. And how down-to-earth he was! I was a little sad that his hunger was more important than taking a photo with me, but it was better to hear him say he had to eat versus him screaming, "Security!"
   But for real though, my feelings aren't hurt. I mean, a man's got to eat, especially if he's hungry, right?
   And that's just what the king did. (Note: I didn't want to look like a super stan so I didn't get a chance to peep what was on his plate.)
   The king sat by himself on the couch opposite from us, silently enjoying his meal. Then he left.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Rest in Peace Nelson Mandela

At the Nelson Mandela monument in Naval Hill in Bloemfontein, South Africa. Here, he is known as "Madiba," which is his clan name.

   I'd be remiss if I didn't say anything about Nelson Mandela's passing.
   What a monumental loss, not just for South Africa but for the world.
   People here -- self included -- have been very sad about the fearless leader's death.
   Naturally, there have been lots of musical tributes and commentary on radio and television stations. The mood here is just dull.
   Mandela was very, very beloved here in Lesotho, which is geographically surrounded by South Africa.
   Many Basotho benefited from Mandela's policies and benevolence by being able to work and live good lives in South Africa, while providing for their families back in Lesotho. His death is their loss, too.
   Mandela stood for many things: Peace. Justice. Unity. Love.
   Hopefully, Mandela's death -- and life -- will teach and show us all how to apply those attributes in our own lives.
   Long live Madiba.