Heritage and Tourism Network awards certificates to 13 Youth Apprentices

By Maneo Ralebitso and Litšitso Mokhothu

MASERU – On Wednesday, 29th June, 2022, the Seriti sa Makhoarane Heritage and Tourism Network (SSM) awarded certificates of completion to 13 young professionals, 11 of whom completed the two-year Youth Apprenticeship Programme under the Ministry of Finance with SSM. The farewell was held at Morija Museum and Archives (MMA). The recipients were awarded certificates based upon the specific work they did, namely: Heritage Conservation & Restoration Planning; or Heritage Mapping & Tourism Routes.

The Heritage Conservation and Restoration Planning certificates were awarded to Lehlohonolo Tšephe, Mokoteli Loko, Mpho Mphofe, Retṧelisitsoe Nthaha and Lehlohonolo Ramoreboli.

The Heritage Mapping and Tourism Routes certificates recipients were Itumeleng Linoko, ‘Malentsoe Letlaka, ‘Maneo Sekata, Kalane Khoete, Ramahlape Motsoafi, and Neo Makhalanyane, as well as two MMA staff members who participated in the work, Liako Mahao and Matšeliso Phethoka. 

SSM was legally registered in February 2020 as a non-profit association, whose core values are to: preserve the area’s heritage and environment and pass this legacy onto the next generation in a better condition than it was found; implement quality heritage management with community ownership while presenting this heritage dynamically to visitors and tourists; build the creative economy, the arts and innovation as each generation must re-invent itself; nurture the principles of responsible and sustainable tourism; and serve as a catalyst for inclusive growth and investment in the wider Makhoarane area.

The Makhoarane area is composed of the core area and the outlying areas. The core area includes four villages of great heritage value, namely: Morija, Matsieng, Makeneng and Phahameng, being sites that have deep and varied history, heritage and traditions associated with the nation-building efforts of Moshoeshoe I and his successors. The outlying area is divided into four clusters, namely: Ha Moruthane, Ha Toloane, Mantsaneng and Makhoarane Plateau.  

SSM has been anchored by the two local heritage institutions: Morija Museum & Archives (1956) and Royal Archives & Museum (2012) in collaboration with the Makhoarane communities.

The placing of the apprentices emerged from a partnership with the Ministry of Finance through its Youth Apprenticeship Programme (YAP) locally known as Lihalahala which commenced in July 2020. The apprentices were supervised by Mr Stephen Gill, Mr Pusetso Nyabela and Mrs ‘Maneo Ralebitso, who are members of the SSM Administration Unit. The Relationships Inspiring Social Enterprise (RISE) as strategic partner organised technical supervision which was provided by the Technical University of Milan (Italy) and Cape Town Architects and Heritage & Conservation experts. Additional financial assistance was received from the Italian Embassy in Pretoria.

Speaking at the occasion, Mr. Tṧele Lemeke, the Chairperson of the SSM Management Committee, said: “We, at SSM, are greatly thankful for the huge work that you have done. We are sad that your time with us has come to an end. You have worked very hard and for that we want to thank you. We wish you all the best in your future endeavours. You are fortunate that the Ministry of Finance came up with this programme designed to give young people much-needed work experience and we are glad that it was with SSM.”

Mr Pusetso Nyabela, one of three supervisors of the Apprentices, had this to say, “My fellow brothers and sisters, you have worked hard and ventured even into the remote and challenging areas of Makhoarane, mapping heritage sites and tourism routes from Ha Toloane in the south to Mantsaneng in the north. You have generated invaluable research material on the history of these villages, and the mapping of heritage sites and routes within the larger Makhoarane area. There is still a lot of work to do. Your work was disrupted by COVID-19 but you soldiered on. You have interacted with the people of Makhoarane and we hope that you have gained a lot from the two years that you were on SSM.”

Another speaker, Mr Stephen Gill, mentioned that as one of the supervisors of the apprentices he worked closely with the Restoration team and had the pleasure of seeing their work progress greatly during the two years. They have worked on the technical drawings of historic and heritage buildings in Makeneng and Morija and emergency interventions on a few badly damaged historic buildings at Makeneng. It is only a pity that the Apprentices are leaving before the Master Plan for Lerotholi’s Royal Village at Makeneng is complete. “It is my hope that the technical guidance you have received from Matteo and Francesca ( from Technical University of Milan), Janine and Graham (from Cape Town Architects) and the local firm of KTM Architects has not only sharpened your skills as professionals but also broadened your outlook in terms of what you could do next.”

Speaking on behalf of the apprentices, Mr Neo Makhalanyane remarked, “It has been a pleasure working on SSM. Some of us had either not been employed before, or had worked in sectors not related to our studies. We are grateful to Seriti sa Makhoarane and the Ministry of Finance for this opportunity. We have gained a lot of experience and knowledge. Our approach is different from how it used to be before we were placed here.”

The recipients of the Heritage Conservation & Restoration Planning certificates, known as the ‘Restoration team’, are graduates of the School of Built Environment from Lerotholi Polytechnic (LP) with backgrounds in Architectural Technology, Civil Engineering and Construction Management. The recipients of Heritage Mapping & Tourism Routes certificates are graduates of the Heritage & Cultural Studies from the National University of Lesotho (NUL) and International Tourism Management from the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology (LUCT).