MASERU — Leaders of warring famo music groups, Terene and Seakhi, on Sunday pledged to bury the hatchet following extensive talks in Mafeteng led by the government.
The ceasefire deal could bring closure to a three-year “war” that left at least a hundred artistes and producers dead.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s office, Molobeli Soulo, said reconciling the two groups was not easy adding it was therefore important to tread cautiously in handling the conflict.
He said the government will not to tolerate anyone taking the process backwards because “all we want is peace and we are going to work hard to attain it”.
He added the groups initially did not trust the government believing there was a trap to arrest them.
Soulo said there is no plan to arrest the famo members.
Speaking at a press conference at ’Masentle Commercial High School, Rethabile Mokete, popularly known as “Mosotho Chakela” who leads Terene and Bereng Majoro aka “Lekase” who is at the helm of Seakhi, said “from this moment onwards all we want is peace”.
The two leaders said they were willing to lay down their weapons and try to work together to usher in a new era of peace in an industry that has been rocked by violence since 2009.
The Terene group is aligned to the All Basotho Convention (ABC) while the Seakhi group is linked to the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD).
The two parties are the biggest partners in a coalition government that also includes the smaller Basotho National Party.
Mokete and Lekase told the media they will not let their involvement in politics divide them any further.
In an exclusive interview with the Lesotho Times, Mokete said he was genuine in his call for a ceasefire adding he believed “that Ntate Majoro is as genuine as I am”.
“What would be the point of being hypocrites after government’s efforts to find us and bring us together in this manner?” Mokete quipped.
“I’m grateful to the prime minister (Thomas Thabane) and government ministers for bringing us together.”
Asked how he felt about his name being linked to famo murders over time, Mokete said it was unfortunate because the allegations had “left a dark spot on my image”.
“The accusations have been eating me deep down inside despite my putting on a brave front. My name has been unnecessarily dragged through the mud.
“I started out as an artiste but became more famous for famo wars than my music and that has affected me emotionally.”
Mokete said he has not been arrested or appeared before courts of law because it was apparent to law enforcers that “I’ve been innocent all along”.
“The sad part about all this is that in every organisation, the blame is placed squarely on the shoulders of the leader,” Mokete added.
On the business front, Mokete said sales of his music had also been badly affected as there were people who preferred Seakhi music to that of Terene.
“It has been affected negatively because the sales have dropped incredibly due to the divisions. There are people who now prefer Seakhi music to Terene and vice-versa,” Mokete said.
“When supporters of Terene pass by, they are seen as enemies while there are regions where Seakhi supporters are not tolerated. It’s really bad because the divisions run deep.”
Asked to comment on government’s handling of the reconciliation talks between the two camps, Mokete said he was happy “especially because of the involvement of the military, the police and the church in the talks”.
“I hope that they will continue to play a vital role in building the peace that we yearn for. Looking back I can safely say I’m happy with the manner in which the talks have been going on since Friday,” Mokete said.
“I totally support this initiative to bring peace into the music industry. Who doesn’t want peace?”
He admitted though there were still tensions between him and Majoro.
“It’s not easy for us to be at ease with one another as yet. A lot of work still needs to be done for us to get used to one another,” Mokete said.
Mokete said that would be achieved through leaders and members of the two groups “appearing together in public”.
“We will attend funerals of our fallen members together and organise concerts where we’ll all entertain our supporters, to enable our groups to get used to each other,” Mokete said.
“People should expect to see a new Terene starting today, a new Terene that does not entertain senseless killings.”
Mokete said the most valuable lesson he had learnt from the conflict is that “it’s never too late to mend”.
“I’ve learnt that we’ve both made several mistakes along the way but that one is never too old to learn and reform in earnest,” Mokete said.
To people who had been directly affected by the famo murders, Mokete said he wished to knock “on your hearts to seek your acceptance”.
“Please open your hearts and accept me because that’s all I’ll ever ask of you, your acceptance. But, I’m also sensitive to the fact that I’m not money that is loved by everybody,” Mokete said.