By Mpho Shelile

MASERU – Econet Telecom Lesotho in partnership with Bienvenue and other stakeholders held the royal cup theme revelation event at Avani Lesotho as a continued effort to celebrate His Majesty’s 60th birthday. The centerpiece of the cup aims to showcase the country’s gorgeous and rich cultural heritage of horse-racing and fashion creativity.

At the event, the esteemed Thabo Makhetha, who is an exceptional fashion designer stated that the royal theme this year is “eternal thread”. She exclaimed that the designers should claim their part in the competition, with bold patterns woven and sacred art. It is a representation of Basotho heritage and a grand in textile, the future and past hand in hand. “It is an ancestral knowledge woven with care, and each piece tells a different story, a legacy to share my roots which run deep when it comes to my designs”, stated Makhetha.

Established in 2009, the brand is applauded for shifting fashion trends through its use of the traditional Basotho blankets, inspired by the cultural heritage of its founder. Econet Telecom Lesotho (ETL) in partnership with BNV will this year host a horse racing and designer event dubbed the “2023 Royal Cup”.

ETL being the platinum sponsor has invested M500 000 for the event to be held in Mohale’s Hoek on September 23 this year, due to its history with horse-racing. In celebration of the rich heritage and cultural tapestry of the Kingdom of Lesotho, Econet proudly unveils The Royal Cup, a horse racing event and designer show in partnership with Bienvenue. This venture aims to enchant and involve audiences while showcasing the country’s deep-rooted traditions and creativity.

The fashion competition component is aimed at enhancing the country’s youth fashion designing skills through the mentorship of Lesotho’s renowned fashion designer, Thabo Makhetha.

Born in Lesotho, a landlocked country completely surrounded by South Africa, fashion designer Thabo Makhetha graduated from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. Makhetha first established her company in 2009 as a made-to-order boutique in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. She is best known for her ready-to-wear collection of capes and coats constructed out of Basotho blankets. The Basotho Blanket is named after the Basotho people, an ethnic group of the highlands of Lesotho, and the traditional dress of men worn as a cape and for women as a wrap. This is the subject of her on-going collection under the title “Kobo ea Bohali”, or “blanket of prestige.”

 Although it is not a textile native of the Lesotho people, it has a symbol of pride and rich with meaning worn for over one hundred years. Makhetha takes a culturally significant textile and applies it to fashion in a way that is modern and available for local and international markets. Her consistent design aesthetic is captured by her customer, the strong and sophisticated modern business woman.

 The main event of The Royal Cup, is scheduled to take place on the 23rd of September 2023 in Mohale’s Hoek. It is said to be Lesotho’s outstanding occasion which beyond the race will offer a flourishing marketplace with a delightful array of hospitality services, live music and entertainment, captivating fashion shows, and vibrant stalls showcasing a wide variety of products.

Mrs. ‘Mapusetso Nts’ekhe, ETL’s GM: Marketing and Customer Experience, emphasized the significance of The Royal Cup within a series of initiatives that Econet is spearheading and that they will be setting up voting lines after Thabo Makhetha announces the top ten until only top 5 participants is left. “Econet aims to promote heritage and culture by supporting these events and we also want to show the world that there is so much more to Basotho than meets the eye”, stated Nts’ekhe.

On behalf of Bienvenue, Mr. Russel stated that Moshoeshoe II high school which is located in Mohale’s Hoek was shutdown in 2021 and promised with the proceeds success of the upcoming royal cup their school will be reopened.  He also took interest for the impending designer showcase, which will be offered by the talented Thabo Makhetha, an honoured Creative Director and fashion designer who gained recognition through her collection of luxury jackets, capes, and coats titled ‘Kobo ea Bohali’. Russel stated that five designers will be carefully selected by Thabo Makhetha from a nationwide callout during The Royal Cup and will participate in a comprehensive program that encompasses immersive workshops, visits to clothing manufacturers, social media challenges, and a panel session with judges. The program will end in a fashion show, where a deserving winner will be crowned on the day.