By Lineo Segoete
Morija Arts and Cultural Festival 2013 held among it’s programs, a mini film festival called “Thru a Lens”. It was hosted in collaboration with Sesotho Media and Development and highlighted films by Basotho filmmakers; Tumelo Matobako, Kaizer Matsumunyane, Thabiso Mohapeloa and Philip Leteka. The project was a phenomenal success with screenings paid audience by a full house armed with intrigue and heartwarming laughter. The event exposed potential avenues towards educating the masses about storytelling using film as a medium and utilizing Morija Museum as an ideal venue to host video arts. True evidence of this became vivid this past weekend as The Forgotten Kingdom (TFK) was screened to over a 1000 people.
TFK is a film directed by Andrew Mudge from the United States, in it he narrates a young Mosotho’s voyage from the murky and dusty streets of Soweto to his Homeland (see details here). It is a lovely picture that has captivated audiences throughout the country and internationally. The audience in Morija was no exception. Students, locals, tourists and even young children swarmed into the Museum Amphitheatre, clad in their blankets and refreshments to enjoy cinema under a warm, moonlit and yet cloudy sky.
The local football team “Lijabatho” was also celebrating victory over a rival team, consequently an euphoric aura dominated the modest forested town towered by the breathtaking Makhoarane mountain and made the Amphitheatre abuzz with life and revelry. It was a humbling sight to behold. The crowd was engrossed with amazement as the movie played; random comments made on observations in the story sparked roaring laughter and slight conversation, and made the whole occasion very relaxed.
The screening in Morija was the last in a series held across the country, a grand finale that wrapped up a job very well done in spite of unpredictable weather and pouring rains. Many of the attendees do not so much as own television sets let alone indulge in cinema as a past time. The exercise reflected how “moving-pictures” is still a very alien concept in our country and how it can be strengthened and integrated as a means of communication and teaching that will stay ingrained in the hearts and minds of the public. Quality productions such as The Forgotten Kingdom and those by the former-mentioned filmmakers, as well as the reactions they bore, give a sound reflection that Morija Museum and Archives is emerging out of its cocoon and catching up to catering a wider range of interactive activities that entertain and conscientise the public. Morija is one of the primary cultural hubs of the country and is gradually adapting to hosting more than the Morija Arts and Cultural Festival as had become the norm in previous years, a stunning and welcomed change.