In the prehistoric times before the colonial rule and the arrival of the missionaries in Lesotho, the Basotho people had their unique culture, believes and way of life. Basotho people have had their own calendar through which they celebrate the beginning of the New Year, and it’s usually celebrated at the beginning of August (Phato); thus many factors come into play, such as wilting of certain plants, blossoming of trees and odd, if not rare, behaviour of monkeys of playing with phragmites adams sticks (lehlaka la noka). When the Moon has a waxing crescent shape it is a manifestation that a new year has finally dawned.
The LTDC together with Selemo Association joined forces to drive a campaign dubbed Moea oa Selemo sa Basotho and also to commemorate the beginning of the New Year or new season as established and agreed upon by our predecessors. It is against this backdrop that the LTDC considered to take part in the revival and celebration of the New Year and the new season, spring or Selemo, as this is in synch with the functions delegated to the corporation.
One of the responsibilities entrusted to LTDC is the promotion, revival and development of traditional handicrafts, festivals and culture. Speaking at the event where ways of celebrating selemo sa Basotho were discussed, the Chief Executive a.i. LTDC, Tebello Thoola expressed the sole intention is that Basotho hold hands and work together. “Our aim for this is to celebrate our heritage such that it goes as far as schools where our children will get taught who they really are as Basotho and know the true essence of working together because that is who we are as Basotho. We appreciate the support that has been portrayed by different companies through their sponsorship and assisting in making this possible.
BACUFE representative, Thato Chobokoane deliberated that Selemo sa Basotho cultural festival this year is planned to commence from the 31st of July to the 5th of August, where there will be a series of events which will be showcased on different media platforms. “The highlight of those will also be the webinar which we intend to involve professors and academics from NUL who will help in unveiling the theme of the festival that is to celebrate and embrace our heritage in a form of modernization and globalization”, she said. It is on the 4th that physical activities will take place at ‘Melesi Lodge and there will be a horse track from Matsieng to Thaba Bosiu which will be led by His Majesty King Letsie lll. Those who were on the track will then head back to ‘Melesi Lodge where local cuisines will be prepared with a touch of modernization so that they will be more palatable, musical performances from local artists are also anticipated to make the festival eventful.
Selemo Association was formed to revive the culture and heritage of Basotho and among others to educate Basotho about the times Basotho celebrate the New Year, thus, a season is earmarked as the festive period as interpreted by our ancestors. LTDC’s mandate is to promote tourism as one of the key economic sectors through private partnerships and community development; and its key role is to ensure that Lesotho becomes a first choice for domestic and international tourism destination.
Therefore, authentic culture and heritage can be used as a drawcard to lure domestic and international visitors to visit Lesotho to learn and explore our traditions as the Basotho Nation.
In Lesotho the New Year (Selemo sa Basotho) will be commemorated on the 20th July, 2023 and it will be the second year in succession celebrating the New Year jointly with Selemo Association. After receiving a proposal for collaboration from Selemo Association, the corporation consented to the request, thus the corporation saw it befitting to support initiatives that promote culture and tradition practiced by our forefathers, holding the view that this promotes patriotism hence will lure travelers to Lesotho to learn the uniqueness of Basotho ethos. The concept has received acknowledgement from the government, community at large, tertiary institutions and more especially private sector and government agencies who are willing to support this endeavor financially.
The theme of the Selemo campaign is SOLIDARITY. It is believed that celebrating the new Basotho year kindles rapport and dialogue around issues of Basotho culture and cements a strong base for IDENTITY as the Basotho Nation. This results in formation of a culture based economy in which Basotho support Basotho initiatives, encourages PATRIOTISM and leads to conservation and celebration of the country, as well as preservation of our culture and heritage.
After successful dialogue and persuasion with the public and relevant stakeholders and buy in from the powers that be, we would like in future to propose for a holiday to commemorate Selemo. In accordance with the Basotho Calendar the months of Phato, Loetse and Mphalane are regarded as festive season. (It is also important to note that these months are not the same as August, September and October in the Gregorian calendar).
The Selemo Association is based on the following objectives:
To build the country’s identity and improve our devotion to our own values, as well as to differentiate Basotho from other nationalities. To improve and implement proactive, coordinated marketing and communications reputation management strategies for Lesotho through various platforms and mediums, particularly the arts and other creative industries. To promote Lesotho to both domestic, regional and international audiences; positioning Lesotho as a competitive tourism and investment destination, inspiring and instilling the spirit of patriotism amongst Basotho (Sekoele Basotho!).
Mapamela Khanyela from the ministry of Tourism, speaking on behalf department of Culture conveyed his happiness that Basotho are now seeing the importance of celebrating culture and further encourage that Basotho should embrace their heritage and culture.
A series of activities will take place as part of campaign before the culmination of the main event and also in celebration of Selemo festivity celebration. (Festive Season)