19 January 2018

Lesotho: Free Your Minds, Basotho Urged

THE public have been urged to embrace their African culture and identity in order to liberate themselves from the mental bondage that was brought on western colonisation.

This was said by Mpho Letima, one of the keynote speakers at the Ba re e ne re Literature Festival which was held over the weekend at Machabeng International School in Maseru.

Ba re e ne re is a registered educational organisation whose mission is to enrich the lives of Basotho by promoting initiatives that support improved literacy and creative platforms for expression.

The Ba re e ne re Literature Festival was first held in 2011.

It is a multi-day event that brings together hundreds of people including writers, editors, publishers, poets, students, artistes, educators and expatriates to engage and share literary content.

The weekend activities included a keynote address, performances, panel discussions, and a practice-oriented workshop.

The festival enables Basotho writers to share their unique stories with local and international audiences.

Speaking at the weekend event, Letima said Africans were caged in a "box" of mental slavery and would not be able to break free unless they fully understand their condition.

She said that schools had helped reinforce colonial values making it difficult for people to rid themselves of what they had been systematically taught over a period of 11 years.

She further said that decolonisation would not be possible unless Basotho told their own stories instead of waiting for others to legitimise them through their stories.

"We need to be ourselves and unapologetically transmit our culture.

"We cannot advocate for decolonisation if we are not willing to disregard the colonial systems.

"We need to start asking uncomfortable questions and if we do not know what we are freeing ourselves from, we will just be going around in circles."

She also called on more Basotho to embrace writing in order to preserve their messages for the future generations.

The cultural festival consisted of sessions A, B, C and D.

Session A explored the importance of literacy and highlighted that there were various literacies to consider for communication and storytelling.

It was agreed that there is the literacy of reading and writing but also visual literacy of images and that of social codes.

Session B was a community discussion to consider the significance of museums and galleries and the kind of art and history they should display.

It was agreed that Lesotho history should not be limited to political events, but also those events about ordinary people and their daily lives.

Section C which explored the intersections between fine art and the written word.

Session D served as a platform where aspiring young writers were educated on the requirements of publishers.

The event opened with some poetry performances and closed with songs by artiste, Morena Leraba.

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