IT IS said a picture is worth a thousand words.
And there she was, mixing cow dung and some soil somewhere in Ha-Teko on the outskirts of Maseru.
‘Makatiso Tsehlana said she wanted to give a fresh look to her house by coating the floors of her two huts in preparation for Christmas.
The picture graphically captured the great chasm dividing our communities here in Lesotho. But it is these stories from the villages that you find the people’s sheer determination to get things done even under very trying circumstances.
Without any semblance of rancour Tsehlana continues to quietly carry out her duties as a mother.
There are hundreds of thousands of other women heroes who are in similar circumstances.
I want to salute these women.
They continue to demonstrate a steely determination to get things done even when the odds are heavily tipped against them.
It is evidently clear from the picture that Tsehlana is a woman of humble means.
She said she has 10 children to look after.
Sadly, Tsehlana admitted that times were hard.
She said she was only expecting a miserable Christmas this Saturday.
But the tough economic times that have hit these shores have not stopped some amongst us from spending as if there is no tomorrow.
Look at the craziness going on at the malls in neighbouring South Africa.
Even our only world-class mall is also doing brisk business.
On the whole I believe big businesses drive the Christmas agenda.
They seem to enjoy riding on the back of Christ during this holiday.
The shopping mall has replaced the church as the new temple.
It would seem the universal message of peace on earth as declared to those shepherds has been slowly emasculated by greedy commercial interests.
Of course this candid assessment will find very few takers.
It is considered heresy.
It also spoils the festive mood. Who doesn’t want to have a jolly, good time!
Christmas has always and still holds a special place in the lives of Basotho.
When we were growing up in the early 80s my peers would deliberately not wipe away their oily lips to show the rest of us that they had just had that special meal during Christmas Day.
It was a time for the people, both the affluent and working class, to make merry and drown their sorrows.
Christmas also brought a semblance of egalitarianism among the haves and the have-nots.
In spite of its positive social good I will not hesitate to label Christmas a thoroughly pagan holiday that has been dressed up in Christian garb.
Such an assessment will likely provoke howls of disapproval from individuals professing the Christian faith.
But I had a nasty surprise last week when I went through a Catholic encyclopedia on the origins of Christmas and other related celebrations.
“Concerning the date of Christ’s birth the Gospels give no help; upon their data contradictory arguments are based,” says the respected encyclopedia.
The encyclopedia candidly admits that Christmas is a holiday steeped in pagan roots.
“Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church. Irenaeus and Tertullian (early Church fathers) omit it from their lists of feasts; Origen . . . asserts that in the Scriptures sinners alone, not saints, celebrate their birthday,” it says.
In 1644 Oliver Cromwell, an English statesman, banned Christmas and other related celebrations. He was apparently on a mission to clean the country of decadence.
Christmas was then considered a wasteful festival that threatened the core Christian beliefs, according to one book.
Food for thought this Christmas, isn’t it?