COMMEMORATIONS of Lesotho’s 51st anniversary of independence are continuing in various parts of the country and we feel that the celebrations should also be an opportunity for introspection into our sad and unfortunate culture of attaching little if any regard to the sanctity of human life.
Ours seems to be a never-ending tale of violence and senseless killings and hardly a week ever passes without media reports of lives lost.
This week is no exception and as we report elsewhere in this edition, two primary school learners have tragically been robbed of their lives by reckless juvenile herd boys who needlessly threw stones at the bus carrying learners from Masoeling Primary.
Police spokesperson, Inspector Mpiti Mopeli, has since confirmed the incident and said that three suspects who are all minors aged from 13 to 14 years will be charged with murder.
It could have been worse as five other learners were injured in the incident.
Now 51 years into independence, we ask what has become of the nation that was founded by King Moshoeshoe I on the principles of peaceful co-existence, hospitality and generosity even to strangers.
What has got into us that we exhibit such signs of mental depravity?
And for all our professions of love and respect for our King Letsie III, we continue to turn a deaf ear to His Majesty’s pleas to retrace our steps and rediscover our humanity.
It seems like yesterday when His Majesty decried the senseless and callous killing of businessman, Thabiso Tšosane, who was gunned down by unknown assailants on the night of 9 May 2015 in Ha Tsolo in Maseru.
“What happened to this man, this killing, is a clear sign that as a people, as a country, we are really sick,” His Majesty said at Tšosane’s funeral in 2015.
“We are sick in the mind and our hearts. Such terrible acts are only done by sick people. As Christians, as Basotho, you know this kind of sickness can only be healed by prayer.
“I invite you, as Christians, to come and pray together, not only on Sundays but all the time and even at our places of work and ask God to heal us because we are truly a sick people.”
Sadly, those words appear to have had no effect on the national psyche as lives continue to be cut short week in and week out.
We seem to have developed a DNA of violence and consequent murderous streak.
And the child killers at village level are just a microcosm of our society which has unsurprisingly bred callous individuals who are ever ready to sacrifice precious lives at the altar of political expediency.
We may establish commissions of inquiry into politically-motivated killings, seek external help from SADC and impose punitive prison sentences and even if we impose the death penalty, it would still not end the culture of impunity which has clearly invaded and modified our genetic make-up.
Such is the impunity that army commanders can be shot in cold blood in broad daylight.
We have people in positions of responsibility who have no respect for the sanctity of life to the extent that they can just act on their whims to kill ordinary citizens and dump the bodies in dams.
All of this is happening because at the level of the households where values of respect and the sanctity of human life are supposed to be inculcated, the responsibility has been abandoned.
This is the issue that we have to grapple with as we commemorate our independence. What kind of nation have we become? We need to return to the values that were at the heart of the founding of our nation.