Maseru — AGED only 23, Karabelo Maloi has lived through five coups, two parliamentary dissolutions and multiple assassination attempts on the life of successive heads of state. This mirrors the ignominy of Lesotho as one of the most volatile countries in the continent. "We are a country at a crossroads. I cannot remember a time when my daily life in Lesotho was not lived under a dark cloud of impending civil war," said Maloi. A dark cloud is hanging over the tiny Mountain Kingdom again following the assassination of Commander of the Lesotho Defence Force, Lt-General Motsomotso, earlier this month. Two senior army officers allegedly liable for the murder were also slain by guards at the barracks in the capital Maseru.
In recent years, such politically-motivated extrajudicial killings have been commonplace. In June, Lipolelo Thabane, the estranged wife of Prime Minister, Tom Thabane, was shot and killed just hours before his inauguration. "This is the kind of lawlessness we have become accustomed to in this country," Maloi said. Lesotho finds itself on the agenda of the Southern African Development Community again, with the announcement of the deployment of a regional force to support the Thabane's government. The future of the country, not to mention the youth who make up over 60 percent of the estimated 2,2 million population, is seemingly ruined. However, beneath the turbulence, winds of change are blowing. Some youths are taking it upon themselves to inculcate peace and hope among the country's future leaders. Maloi is prominent among such youth. "It is very simple, I love my country," he said in an interview. "
The truth about my country and a large part of the rest of Africa is, my generation has inherited a mess. The economy is in shambles, crime is on the rise and unemployment and poverty are high. Maloi believes youth have a crucial role to play in reversing the country's fortunes. "Fellow young people and I must build the Lesotho we want, from the ground up. I intend on being among the young leaders of this process." Brought up in a village characterised by instability in Maseru, Maloi, is founder and the president of Qholotsa Youth Organization, which is committed to tackling some of Lesotho's social ills. It focuses on health, poverty and education. Iterest-free loans are granted to some of the most under-resourced orphanages and children's homes. A cancer charity drive addresses the health agenda while a high school mentorship series focuses on education. Crime, school violence and drug abuse as well as the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS are some of the predicaments Qholotsa is tackling. "Our projects harness creativity and social innovation as positive alternatives to the toxic ideologies of violence and crime.
This is the very essence of nation-building," said Maloi. He has lofty hope Lesotho will eventually enjoy peace. The mountainous enclave is affectionately known as the Kingdom in The Sky for its breathtaking landscape but is ever volatile for as long as Maloi remembers. "Being brought up in one of the poorest countries in the world; had a lot of challenges and hardships," he said. "The reality was one of communities that were ravaged by poverty and a health system decimated by HIV/AIDS. This reality manifested itself in the small village of Sekamaneng, where I grew up. School gangs, drugs and alcohol were the ills that we contended with." Such is his passion he runs the projects from his own pocket. "I have burned through my little savings that I had, and I have even sold my laptop and other belongings just to keep everything running." He credits his mother and life at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein for nurturing his advocacy. "My mother is perhaps the person who shaped me the most," Maloi said. "She reigned over our household with an iron fist and cracked the whip every time I threatened to go down the wrong path, which I did many times. She also taught me how to hustle!" His mother supplemented her and her husband's meagre government salaries by selling leather handbags and jackets.
The holder of a BCom Investment Management degree, also remains indebted to his former university and then-Rector, Prof. Jonathan Jansen. Maloi has received some global recognition for fostering social cohesion and transformation. Recently, he was selected for the Hansen Summer Institute, a leadership and social entrepreneurship camp held at the University of San Diego, California, USA. It featured 25 young leaders from 21 strife-torn countries. He is preparing for the One Young World Summit, the premier global youth forum set for Colombia next week. Maloi has been selected on a EU One Young World Peace Ambassador Scholarship programme. "I don't win many awards, but when I do it's always appreciated," he said. - CAJ News