Basotho woman and her child in the Kome Caves village.

I can hardly believe that three weeks has passed by so quickly and it is nearly time for me to go to Uganda. As I am preparing to leave Lesotho (pronounced Les-oo-too), I wanted to share some knowledge and random interesting things that I’ve observed in my short time here.

Lesotho is a very small kingdom surrounded entirely by South Africa. I have been living in the capital city of Maseru. The total population is only about 2 million people, but unfortunately, about 25% (or approximately 500,000) people have HIV/AIDS, hence the need to have so many orphanages in the country. Many of the children at BG lost both of their parents this way. The king serves as a figurehead and the prime minister has executive authority. About 90% of the country’s population is Christian.

Other random observations:

-Many people wear the traditional Basotho blanket wrapped around them and held in place by a giant safety pin. I am surprised to see both men and women wearing these even when it’s very warm outside. Some also wear the Basotho hat that is shown on the kingdom’s flag.

-I am regularly awakened by roosters calling in the morning…or a creepy cat meow outside of my window (it’s my own fault…I’ve been feeding it tuna and chicken)

-Adults and children push many things around in wheelbarrows like the buckets of water from the pump. It could be totally dark in the village outside of the BG gates and I won’t see anyone but I’ll know they’re there because I’ll hear the rolling wheels of the wheelbarrow.

-The stars are absolutely beautiful. Maybe it’s just because there are no lights so I can actually see them all.

-The King of Lesotho goes to the same gym as Allan.

-“Tea time” is at 10:30 every day at BG and also includes a variety of biscuits (cookies). I’m loving this a little too much. If I’m not careful, I’ll have to change the name of my blog to “The Business of Eating: A Year of Fattiness in Africa”

-The Lesotho Maloti and South African Rand are interchangeable (7 to 1 USD right now)

-There are many cattle grazing the land and herding boys to watch them, some as young as five. They carry a large stick and are usually wrapped in a blanket and a face mask. It can get pretty windy and the dust really carries.

-The herding boys will work for an entire year and receive a single cow as their payment. The cows are not used for food, but are saved for later use as a bride price. When they get married one day, they will be expected to pay the bride’s father several cows.

-Marriage is highly emphasized here. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked why I’m not married yet. “But you are getting older. Won’t you be lonely?” Haha ooh whatever will I do?

-Since Maseru is the capital city, there are government officials and other business people who have pretty nice homes. All of the “haves” are on one side of the road and the “have-nots” are on the other. It’s quite a contrast to see. In the villages though, there are very few “haves.”

-Pap is a main food here. It is made by mixing maize flour and hot water together and is eaten with the hands.

-The Chinese are one of the largest minorities here with several factories and other businesses. The locals don’t seem to like them much though…I think they think they’re taking the few jobs that are available.

– It is common for men to hold hands with other men and women to hold hands with other women or link pinky fingers together while walking, but it is considered improper for men and women to hold hands or show any affection in public.

– It hasn’t rained here for more than three months, which can cause big problems for the many people who depend on farming for their livelihoods. I never thought I’d pray for rain before.

-When a child is born, it must be initiated into the world by the rain, so the child and person of the same sex holding the child must undress and stand outside in the raining, holding the baby up toward the sky. I think this is like baptism for them because it is believed that if this is not done, the child will grow up to be a thief.

There is so much more, but how do you condense an entire culture into a few paragraphs? Hmm…not trying. I hope that you were enlightened though, and have a little better picture of what Lesotho is like now.

Lesotho flag with the Basotho hat