By ‘Muso Nkhasi MASERU –
When serving as a waitress at Semonkong lodge, she realised the significance of a blanket other than its mere purpose of warmth, and established her own tourist resort ‘The Blanket Presentation Home’.
‘Masetho Letsie founded a tourist resort back in 2008, with the help of Aranda Textile. She noticed how informational and influential Basotho blankets are in attracting tourists in the Semonkong village. “Everything has a history and so do Basotho blankets, every design tells a Basotho story,” indicated Letsie.
The Blanket Presentation Home is a cultural residence which aims to showcase and sell the Basotho culture to tourists. The interaction of Basotho blankets to how Basotho live their lives on a daily from a social aspect to, economic, political and a religious way of living is resembled in those designs.
Mrs Masetho would serve visitors at the lodge and do presentation to her visitors at home which was a big challenge for her, trying to juggle both work and business. This was until her son decided to step up and get involved in the business and giving the much needed relieve. This showed the strength of family unity in business and everything ran smoothly from there on. When she was at work the son would run the business from home.
Like many others who suffered the negative impact of covid19, she got retrenched at the lodge. Even though the retrenchment wasn’t welcomed she saw an opportunity in that and went full force in her presentation business. Mrs Masetho runs her business in Semonkong to date.
When one visits the facility, they also get a chance to admire the beautiful terrains of the mountain kingdom. Her home is located just 10km from the popular Maletsunyane waterfalls and offers various activities. Apart from the education they provide, they also sell some local products. The facility is in possession of vintage heritage Basotho products which were used a long time ago and most importantly the welcoming blanket which is 130 years old.
The home does not have a design of their own thus far but hopes to one day have an approved design from the producing company, Aranda.
In the presentations they host, they talk about all blanket designs which symbolize the Basotho cultural dynamics. They sometimes reach out to meet with designers of these blankets and get real stories, inspiration or motives behind the designs and their importance in the Basotho culture and its people.
The facility sometimes honours designers by inviting them for the presentations, like Basotho designed blanket ‘Manothi’ which is designed by Thabe Letsie, popularly known as Ntate Stunna. The design on his blanket expresses appreciation of using “koriana” in his music. Manothi blanket design has on it koriana and microphones to honour Sesotho music.
People can visit the Blanket Presentation Home to hear more of these beautiful stories about Basotho blankets. The facility uplifts other local businesses by mediating between the locals and tourists by providing a taste of local by means of; traditional food and activities like horse riding, of which these activities are provided by locals.
Visiting the facility helps one know the proper way of wearing a blanket, when to put a flap outside and when to put it inside. One gains the knowledge of choosing quality blankets through their texture.
A young model Lisemelo Grace Mphutlane did a professional photoshoot wearing a “sekopa blanket design”. When people look at her pictures they can instantly identify with her as a Mosotho girl.
She indicated that photoshoots expose one to different platforms and opportunities as people see what she has been up to, they may develop interest and offer her other opportunities. She may be approached by photographers, brand names or facilities out of interest to model their ideas, products or concepts.