I JOIN the nation in wishing His Majesty King Letsie 111 a very happy and prosperous 56th birthday, albeit slightly belatedly. Most of you stampeded in buying newspaper space to convey your good wishes to His Majesty last week. I prefer to do it my own way after you have all had your say. Being the last to wish His Majesty all the happy innings makes me stand out.
The King’s birthday is the most auspicious event on the Basotho calender. The actual celebrations convened in different provinces every 17 July are mostly exhilarating. I have never missed an occasion. Even when I am not invited, I find a way of gatecrashing the important event.
This year, we were in Quthing. It is always exhilarating to see Basotho come out in their thousands to join the King in marking this important day. King Letsie is the ultimate symbol of the Basotho nation. He brings the best in all of us. I cannot think of any event that unites Basotho than the King’s birthday.
They were all there. Ntate Motsoahae was present to lead the event. His adversary, the main opposition leader Ntate Mokhothu, was there. Other opposition leaders were there. I did not see Ntate Metsing though. I am sure he was there in spirit. Wealthy businessmen like bontate Matekane and Ntane were there. Most government ministers were there. So were principal secretaries. But above all, yours truly was there. I never miss the King’s big day.
The commemorative activities were fabulous. The Lesotho Defence Force is always fantastic on the King’s birthday. I cannot think of anything else it does better. King Letsie is our ultimate symbol. I am proud of him.
Which is why I dedicate this column this week to wishing him a happy birthday. I truly give reverence to our King.
However, I also take this opportunity to express my utter disgust and disappointment with whoever was awarded the contract to organize the main luncheon in Quthing last Wednesday. Can the DCEO immediately start probing that caterer and please ensure he is bundled into the same cell with Tlali Kamoli.
Most of those who attended last year and this year’s celebrations will agree with me that the 2018 catering arrangements in Buthe-Buthe were much better than what we saw in Quthing. Our King does not deserve what was done in Quthing. The food was particularly bad. Even Oliver Twist would have rejected it, particularly the beef goulash. The red wine tested like brake fluid. It was probably bought at a wine sale (buy one and get five bottles for free). The salads were made from veggies that appeared to have been harvested in 2013. I am not going to keep quite while an event to honour our King is degraded like this. The sitting arrangements were particularly appalling. The tables were arranged in rows which made guests sit like cows being led into the dip. The carpet laid to cover the dust was more dusty than the dusty floor it was meant to have covered. There were no ablution facilities put in the vicinity of the main tent. So bad were the sitting arrangements that His Majesty could not have space to visit tables and mingle with guests as he normally does.
Can someone from the Ministry of Home Affairs stand up to explain why. Why mistreat our King like this? Where did all the money budgeted for this event go? Who is this caterer who convened such a creepy event? Can you please name and shame him or her? Can he be castrated if he is a man? Can she be subjected to involuntary FGM is she is a woman? And can Yahya Jammeh be imported to perform that task? Can the Ministry of Home Affairs promise that this should never happen again? Our King’s birthday is important. It needs to be well organized and catered for. It should not be an opportunity for people to steal money. Lets please have a better luncheon next year.
Be that as it may, I congratulate his Majesty on reaching 56. I thank God for keeping our majesty strong and fit and increasingly handsome. Anyone out there, who is not jealousy of our Majesty, will agree with me that he looks way younger than his age. He looks 28. His Majesty has good genes. The month of his Majesty’s should be a month of joy for all Basotho. But alas, this is not the case this year; thanks to our ever bickering political class.
As we were celebrating His Majesty’s birthday, it emerged that 700 000 Basotho will be going hungry by the time of the next harvest in 2020.
But what is most distressing about this issue is the warning from the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Lesotho, Salvator Niyonzima, that our government is essentially doing nothing to deal with this problem.
Consider these words from Ntate Niyonzima; “We (the UN) are busy mobilising funding to address the situation in the coming months,” Mr Niyonzima says, adding, “However, what we haven’t seen yet is what the government is bringing to the table from its own budget”.
“It is important for the government to think about that (budgeting funds) and send out a message because that also opens the doors for more resources (from international development partners). In resource mobilisation, most of the donors will want to know what the government is doing (before they contribute).”
This surely is scary. Week in week out, we have politicians addressing rallies. None has mentioned this problem. None is saying anything about how to arrest the country’s unacceptably high levels of unemployment. None is telling us about how they intend to empower Basotho to manufacture drones, cars, aeroplanes and any other items for export so that we earn money to feed ourselves. None is telling us how they intend to diversify our economy from the car wash industry into viable sectors. None is telling us what and how we should push our nation away from the brink. All we here is political banter and hotchpotch. Elections, elections and more elections. Surely, we Basotho deserve better. Why should we even be hungry in the first place. Israeli, an arid strip of land, with little to no rainfall, is a net exporter of agricultural produce. We in Lesotho harness and export water. Yet we can’t irrigate our fields to ensure our food own security? Why? How long shall we continue being eaten by our politicians, with our eyes wide open, like Zimbabwe’s kapenta fish? When are we going to stand up and say enough is enough?
When are we going to hold politicians accountable? When are we going to demand that some executive power be handed over to King Letsie so he can lead us to the promised land? When are we going to demand that the ABC halt their never ending circus and allow us some space to deal with real issues? Basotho, we are on our own in the wilderness. Our politicians don’t care about us. But in King Letsie, we must continuously trust. Once again, Happy Birthday Your Majesty. Americans love saying, in God they trust. I adapt that phrase and declare – In you, Your Majesty, we trust. Long live Your Majesty.