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Lesotho: Maluti mountains

Lesotho is the only country in the world with all its territory above 1000 metres. The narrators were based in several villages, and have since been relocated.

The Lesotho testimonies were gathered in 1998 amongst several highland communities who have since been relocated, to make way for the dams and reservoirs of the Lesotho Highland Water Project. The testimonies describe a way of life that in some ways has changed little for generations, although the regular migration of men to the South African mines (now discontinued) has had social and economic impacts.

Narrators knew relocation was imminent and many speak of the loss of self-reliance which they fear must accompany resettlement. Life in the highlands may have been frugal, but their livestock and land ensured they had a vital element of independence. In early 2001 follow-up interviews were carried out as part of our project on resettlement.

“We live well together [with other villages in this area], we still help one another, they always come to help us with hoeing. A person would leave her home area and come and help me hoe like that. Well, when I harvest I would also see as to what I can give her. I am still expecting [such help] can happen, but now I no longer have trust that they shall happen. … I am going to people whom I do not know, whom I am not used to, now I do not know how we shall [behave] to one another [when we are resettled].”
‘Malibuseng, female, 32 years, farmer

“[Wild animals] are of great benefit to us and we protect them a lot, so that they should not be killed – the ones like bucks, steenboks, because they are the ones that are here. Springboks I no longer see. Now these steenboks and these bucks- they are the ones that we protect a lot so that they should not be shot at. Just like a lot of people have bought guns from the government. They should leave them alone so that we can show the children, so that they should know them and the hares. Now sometimes they try and set dogs on them but we are still trying to show the mistake of doing so.”
Sebili, male, 46 years, farmer

“Banks ? …. a person here, when you work “you catch a grasshopper straight to the mouth” (you lead a hand-to-mouth existence). We do not have the means that you are able to have money … to put in a bank on account. When you find [some money] you are going to buy food, you clothe yourself from it, you clothe the children from it.”
Mohlominyane, male, 61 years, farmer/village headman