By: Lineo Segoete
Morena Moshoeshoe said; ha fela u amohela Sesotho u Mosotho (so long as you adopt Sesotho-ways and customs- you are Mosotho).
In this country no one is really a foreigner; everyone is welcomed with the same courtesy as a visiting cousin. Here, majority of white men and women of various national backgrounds make it a point to learn and speak Sesotho, if not by their own will, the locals always instigate the exercise. From a superficial perspective it’s only natural that they would have an interest in Sesotho merely for the sake of learning a new language however, this is not the case.
One cannot really know a people lest one speak to those people in their language, also one cannot feel truly a part of a place lest one know how the place operates. The difference between Lesotho and many other parts of the world is that racism is a categorically alien concept here. Even if one arrives here predisposed to racist tendencies one must either shield them very well or discard them because not only will the attitude offend natives, it will also reveal just how petty and narrow-minded such an individual is. Most importantly, there is no room for such here.
The saying goes that we teach people how we want them to treat us: this is not always the case because no one deliberately sets out to be discriminated against based on their race. Fair enough a new place can be intimidating, especially when one is not familiar with the language let alone the people; this in turn may make one reserved and reclusive, which is evident in some of the Chinese folk living among us. Nevertheless, we cannot familiarise ourselves with each other unless we engage and exchange stories and thoughts. One of the outstanding characteristics of Basotho is that they are always keen not only to hear about visitors’ worlds but to share about theirs.
My wish is that other nations would be as laid back as Basotho and expats in Lesotho in terms of integration and empathy toward one another. I have been around different races- particularly Caucasians- pretty much all my life, and did not know that differences in the colour of our skins mattered until I left the country for the first time. Imagine my shock! It pains me that in some parts of the world (as close as South Africa), people still die by virtue of their skin and yet we all feel the same things, bare the same features, breath the same oxygen, bleed, cry and all struggle to live. There is only one race in the world; the HUMAN race.