‘Indian focus on culture worth emulating’

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Mohalenyane Phakela

TOURISM and Culture Minister, ‘Mamotsie Motsie, says Basotho should emulate their Indian friends in order to grow the economy through cultural and heritage products.

The Minister said this while addressing the India-Lesotho cultural celebrations at ‘Manthabiseng Convention Centre this week.

Organised by the Indian Association of Lesotho (IAL), the event featured performances from Indian and Basotho acts.

The main attraction was the Jhaankar School of Dance- an Indian dance troupe from South Africa which showcased Indian traditional dances mostly drawn from the Indian heritage Bollywood movies.

They performed five times during the four-hour event, taking breaks and returning with different outfits to complement their dance routines.

The locals did not disappoint either and they were showered with money by the audiences for their performances. Minister Motsie felt compelled to join the veteran Nkesi on stage, imitating his dance moves while an appreciative crowd ululated and cheered on.

There were also deafening cheers for Leribe-hailing unicyclist, Mohau Mosaase, who juggled and performed different stunts on his unicycle and on a plank that was balanced on a cylindrical object.

Another Leribe act, the Roars Dance Club consisting of three couples treated the audience to an excellent display of ballrooms dances including jive and the famous Brazilian samba.

Even the young ones were not left out as Tiny Tots Primary School learners brought the local cultural flavour onto the stage with boys performing the Liphotha and the girls, Mokopu.

Minister Motsie hailed the India-Lesotho relations, adding Lesotho needed to learn from its Asian counterpart and tap into the economic benefits of its rich heritage.

“The developing world perceives culture as a luxury that does not have economic returns although the UNESCO Convention underlines cultural activities to have economic benefit to different countries,” Minister Motsie said.

“India is an exemption with its culture playing a pivotal role in economic development in the creative industry such as visual arts, films, design and architecture. Lesotho can learn from this by utilising her rich untapped cultural heritage resources to improve lives of people.

“The cultural industry can effectively drive the economy especially in the rural areas where there are vast cultural resources that need exploitation for economic benefits. However, there is need to educate people to equip them with skills of using the cultural resources to earn a living.

“We have already embarked on empowerment of rural communities around heritage sites. We undertake periodic training sessions to equip artisans to produce sellable crafts to sustain their livelihood.”

IAL was established in 1988 with the primary purpose of providing a cultural and educational platform for the Indian diaspora in Lesotho. It also engages in several community projects aimed at helping Basotho including medical, housing, clothes and donation of groceries.

IAL President, Biju Abrahm Korah, said they were obliged to invest in India-Lesotho relations as most of their members had been granted citizenship in Lesotho.

“An important objective of IAL is to foster and facilitate Indo-Lesotho partnerships in the areas of socio-economic, cultural and charitable activities for mutual benefit.

“As we celebrate India Day, we are expressing our oneness and unity as Indians. However, we can say Lesotho is our home as much as India is because most of us are Lesotho citizens who invest heavily in Lesotho and uplift the Basotho nation. We are proud of Lesotho,” he said.

For his part, Man Mohan Bakaya, the Honorary Consul of India to Lesotho, said India was committed to helping Basotho in various ways.

“India appreciates the regular support and cooperation extended by the government of Lesotho at various multi-lateral fora.

“Lesotho experienced a major food crisis as a result of drought it recently suffered and to stand in solidarity with them, the government of India has donated 500 metric tonnes of rice to Lesotho which have already landed in South African entry port of Port Elizabeth and are set to arrive in Lesotho very soon to be donated to affected people.

“I would also like to take the opportunity to commend the IAL which, for several years, has worked hand-in-hand with various Basotho communities striving for positive development in the country through medical camps, educational support, disaster relief, monetary and food contributions,” he said.

The Jhaankar dance group received gifts from IAL. Beauty Pageant Association of Lesotho President, Tlali Tlali, was also presented with a gift for his long outstanding support to IAL.

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