Historic walk inspires ground-breaking novel

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By Mohalenyane Phakela

MASERU –– South African author Tidimalo Manyaapelo on Tuesday launched her debut novel at the T-Connexion Marketing and Tours press conference held at Pioneer Mall in Maseru.
The conference sought to brief the media about this year’s edition of the Menkhoaneng to Thaba-Bosiu walk scheduled for March7-9.

T-Connexion founded the walk in 2007 to commemorate King Moshoeshoe I’s historic journey in 1824, while also instilling a sense of unity among Basotho and promoting team-building skills and domestic tourism.

According to Manyaapelo, her novel, A Bus Ride Home — a journey of women, of friends, of relationships, was inspired by the historic walk in question.

“I learnt about this historic Basotho walk two years ago by e-mail from a friend.
In the bus from Maseru to ‘Mate, where the walk starts, I was seated near a Mosotho who was not a first-time participant in the walk like I was, and was telling me all about the journey.

“With the information I got and the behaviour of the people in the bus, the idea to write a novel was ignited,” said Manyaapelo.

In the novel, Manyaapelo compares hiking, which she experienced during the 2012 Moshoeshoe walk and other previous activities she took part in, to real life encounters.

“Just like climbing mountains, specifically hiking, one will find it to be such an
impossible gesture when looking at the hill ahead until she or he gets to the top.
“I felt that life, just like hiking, also has its ups and downs.
“I tried to portray my life experiences as a character in the novel,” she said.

The story begins when Tlotlego, the lead character, catches a bus to a starting point of a 124-km three-day walk.

Her tale is told through a series of flashbacks, including other hikes she took part in with her friends, family and lovers.

“The book, in general, touches on issues of relationships, love and marriage.
“It is a story of four women but addresses topics that affect every woman regardless of her habitat.
“It is not a motivational book, but it is a must-read for everyone regardless of age or gender.”
Manyaapelo was born in Mafikeng, in the North West Province of South Africa, and has worked as a reporter for a North West newspaper.

She has also written drama for some South African radio stations, including SABC radio.
“I grew up reading love-novels but I did not like the way the authors narrated their stories.

They always portrayed relationships as if they always run smoothly, with a fairy-tale happy ending.”
Thabo Maretlane of T-Connexion said he had read the book, which he described as “very interesting and a must-read”.

“I am deeply in love with the way the story is narrated in A Bus Ride Home.
If someone from South Africa was able to draw her inspiration from Lesotho’s historic annual walk, then it means we have managed to reach out to the world.

“We believe it will also serve as our marketing tool because whoever reads it will get to know about the Menkhoaneng to Thaba-Bosiu walk and will be inquisitive of what really happens there,” Maretlane said.

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