By T’soloane Mohlomi

MASERU – According to the Basotho traditional calendar, as of Thursday the 20th of July the Basotho Nation will officially welcome the beginning of the New Year.

Dubbed “Moea oa Selemo” by the Selemo Association, who in collaboration with the Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC)  have  taken it upon themselves to sensitize the nation about this special period; the day will mark all things renewed for Basotho and signal a new beginning for all.

With the determination of the day made from an ancient Basotho practice of taking observation of the character of the moon in different periodical phases, which as explained, after a period of having being wholly obscured by the circumference of the earth (Having occured from 17th July 2023, also King’s Birthday, this year), a fraction of the moon will emerge, and as legend has it according to Basotho folklore, it is seen by the monkeys first, who catch the first glimpses  before we get to see it.

Speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Arts & Culture, Mrs Mahlapane Boliba, present at the Selemo Association’s conference held this week, (which was also intended to  advocate for a Public Holiday in celebration of the New Year) said they as a Ministry took the proposal of observing  the very first day in the Basotho calendar a public holiday very seriously, as they greatly valued the traditions and culture of Basotho.

She said the preservation of culture was very important for future generations to know their origins and as a result knowing where they were going as a nation. Making reference to the country’s modern community who seem to have lost their ways, she said it was important to use the day to introspect and revisit the values and sacred ways in which our forefathers lived by, which made this nation what it was today.

“As we are convened here to mark and clearly establish the beginning of The Basotho New Year, we indeed agree with you in making the day a holiday for all Basotho,” She said.

“Ladies and gentleman, it is important to note that it is  not only the department’s responsibility to preserve the culture of Basotho, but rather the responsibility of all Basotho young and old, and businesses even in the private sector.

“With a united front we can indeed, overcome the problems which we face of unemployment in our community.

According to the Basotho calendar, as opposed to the Gregorian one, which is globally used, the beginning of the  Sesotho Calendar, contrary to popular belief doesn’t begin on the 1st of August.

 Rather the Basotho New Year is marked by the observation of the moon in a three phase period. The phases can change on year to year, like Easter is observed on different dates in different years,

 The first phase is Hae kena fifing (when it enters into darkness), the second being Hae thoasa, e entse lenala la pele, (when the year begins, also literally translated to when it shows the first nail in Sesotho, Crescent like), and the third being Hae entse Lehare (when it displays a razor blade).

This is said to be a very special time in the Basotho calendar, as it is said to be a time of great introspection, whereby the connection with God is deemed to be of great profoundness. It is said to be a time to renewal where Basotho in the past would ask for forgiveness to God for all their transgressions, and pray to be renewed and blessed by the All Mighty in days to come.

Speaking on behalf of the LTDC, Mr Nkoebe Lerotholi said that a nation without culture surely meets its demise. He said the LTDC with its mandate of promoting tourism in Lesotho and marketing the country as a favourable destination, is looking forward to commemorating the event next year at the Setsoto Stadium. He said the lack of Sesotho in local schools was a cause for concern.

“We surely look forward to celebrating this glorious occasion next year at the stadium with a bigger crowd. It is disappointing that there isn’t a lot of subjects in our schools which teach the customs and traditions of Basotho. We will never stop promoting Lesotho as far as tourism is concerned,” he said.