True reconciliation the only way for Lesotho

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WHEN I was still a young pupil at Iketsetseng Primary School, there used to be a slot in the school timetable after the “morning prayer” that was allocated for pupils to say or read to the class any interesting things they thought should be of interest to all.
Some would read important international or national news headlines. Others read announcements on important scientific discoveries. The most memorable of these pieces of information to me was the one that involved a jigsaw puzzle.
After the “morning prayer” we were shown this completed board that had a picture of the world map on one side and a human head on the flip side.
The pupil who succeeded in piecing together this ostensibly difficult puzzle shared with us that after struggling unsuccessfully to piece together the side that had the world map, she had been advised to turn over the
puzzle and to start putting together the picture of the human head, which she found a lot easier.
To her surprise when she turned the board over, she found that the map of the world was also perfectly in place.
From this, she told us, the lesson she had learned was that for the world to be in order, the human head must first be in good order. This indeed is a simple but profound truth.
I observe that the economic and social problems we have in Lesotho emanate from a disjointed political head.
That until the political leadership of Lesotho learns the importance of being together in mind when approaching matters of national interest, Basotho shall forever wallow in poverty, material and spiritual.
The contemporary political history of Lesotho is both violent and tragic for all Basotho.
BNP members have killed BCP members and BCP members have killed BNP supporters. And it does not end there.
BNP and BCP members have also murdered their own people. This is the level of cannibalism our politics has sunk to, a vicious circle that has affected each and every family in Lesotho.
What makes this situation more tragic is that virtually all families in Lesotho were split over these two political entities, mine included.
At the time when I was an operative of the Lesotho Liberation Army, my own brother, whom I loved a lot, was with the air squadron of the Lesotho Defence Force.
Worse still, later in life I came to learn that an uncle of mine was actually murdered by BCP supporters at Thaba Phechela, very cruelly too.
My blood still boils when I hear how he was dealt with! That aside a family was denied a bread winner, his children subjected to a larger part of their life without a father, just because he had a different political opinion.
The story repeats itself a hundred fold on the BCP side. There are even situations where people were buried alive by the BNP government.
At a very tender age I personally experienced this violence. I still hear the screams of fathers I knew, being beaten up by BNP’s PMU in the middle of the night at Lower Thamae. It was in 1974 and we were terrified.
It was to these experiences that those of my generation who became guerillas responded to. We saw ourselves as the defenders of the vulnerable BCP followers and sought to bring down the BNP government with the intention of replacing it with a democratic and peaceable political dispensation.
On the other side I believe those who joined the Lesotho Defence Force and BNP Youth Brigade also genuinely believed they were defending a good political system.
Unfortunately this vicious circle continues, albeit less violently, but with the same socioeconomic devastation.
Come elections time this sad political background is replayed . . . those on the congress divide are reminded of the tragedies they experienced under the BNP rule and vice versa.
In power the ruling parties tend to dedicate most of their political airtime to the defence of their own government and the opposition concentrates all its energies on discrediting the ruling party.
This type of politics perpetuates the situation of national disharmony and this fragmentation breeds poverty.
A team that does not play together cannot score goals.
All political leaders of Lesotho must make deliberate efforts to cultivate genuine national reconciliation and that starts with all recognising their own contribution to the unfortunate violence this nation has been subjected to.
Our political leaders should also comprehend that there is enough wealth in Lesotho for all of us, that we can only be able to tap into this wealth when our head is one, united in purpose.
Only when national interest supersedes personal aggrandisement can we return Lesotho to its former glory.

Ramakhula is a former member of the Lesotho Liberation Army

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