By T’soloane Mohlomi

MASERU – As of the 20th July Basotho properly ushered in Selemo se Secha, which is the New Year according to the Basotho traditional calendar.

The occasion was marked by a celebration hosted at the New Tourist Development Centre in Maseru.

With the theme dubbed “Moea oa Selemo” by the Selemo Association, who in collaboration with the Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC) took it upon themselves to sensitize the nation about this special period, the day  marked all things renewed for Basotho and signalled a new beginning for all.

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

The event was marked with traditional Basotho music and dance, traditional food, and an art exhibition which was followed by a visual screening and fireworks.

Speaking at the event, the Minister of Gender, Youth, Sports, Arts, Culture and Social Development, Mr Pitso Lesaoana said revellers were gathered there to commemorate the beginning of the Basotho New Year. He said the occasion had been forgotten because Basotho had turned their backs on their culture, and that was mainly due to the impacts of colonialism.

“Ladies and gentlemen we are gathered here today to mark this special day in the Basotho traditional calendar, a day which had sadly been forgotten due to the utter disregard of our traditions as Africans. However we are thankful to The Selemo Association and the LTDC for this great initiative, and reminding us of who we are and where we come from.

“This is indeed a time to introspect, and reflect on the core values which birthed this nation into existence, the values of peace and humility. This day marks the awakening of nature, and as such we should also awaken as a nation. Our cultures as Basotho are diverse and it is only through unity that we can overcome our challenges,” he said.

He urged the youth to use the internet productively to promote cultural diversity and advised Basotho in general to engage in farming activities.

Also speaking, Minister of Trade, Industry, Business Development and tourism, Mr Mokhethi Shelile, expressed his dissatisfaction with the current school curriculum which he said lacked a lot of Sesotho subjects..

He said for Lesotho to develop and reach the enviable positions that other countries retained, the country needed to embrace its own language and use it.

“If you take a look at all the developed countries especially those known as the G7, they use their own languages. In my past job at the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC), I had a very hard responsibility of attracting foreign investment to Lesotho, and attracting potential investment, I’m telling you it gets easier when doing it for a country that values and loves itself ” he said.

 “There is indeed a problem in the curriculum that needs to be urgently addressed.”

The evening was graced with the presence of a great number of youth who had also availed themselves to learn about their traditions and culture.

Mr LetunyaneThobei who spoke on behalf of the Selemo Association said in essence, three months marked the beginning of the traditional Sesotho Year Calendar, which is taken through the observation of the sky and moon.

He reiterated the fact that a nation that loves itself preserves its own customs and culture, adding that Lesotho is a nation bestowed with respect. He said the Central Bank of Lesotho (CBL) should also consider renaming some of the currency values into meaningful cultural names.

In closing remarks Mr Nkoebe Letsie from the LTDC said a nation without culture surely meets its demise. He urged Basotho to proudly wear their traditional regalia, saying they should be proud as Lesotho is a unique country rich in diamonds and water. Mr Letsie also lambasted the lack of Sesotho in the local school curriculum.