THE Mountain Kingdom’s main independence golden jubilee celebrations are almost upon us. Only five days stand between us and the momentous occasion set for next Tuesday.
There is no mistaking the palpable sense of achievement and excitement as the day draws ever closer. All around the country and especially on the streets of Maseru male and female, young and old can be seen with all kinds of regalia especially tee shirts with the legend “50 years” emblazoned on the chest and back.
Certainly it is no small achievement and the country has earned the right to eat and make merry.
And while we celebrate, it is our wish that the nation makes use of the opportunity to turn the searchlight inwards and reflect on the long road travelled over the course of the half century from being a British protectorate to the proud sovereign nation that we have become among the global community of nations.
We appreciate the positive developments. And in equal measure we must reflect on the missed opportunities, the mistakes and what remains to be done as we continue along the path to even greater achievements.
For it is also when we take stock of those issues that stab at our conscience, that we can truly become the well-developed nation that we have set our sights on becoming.
There is still a lot that needs to be done, especially in the realm of infrastructure development and provision of basic services to improve the lives of Basotho.
Perhaps it is just as well that, in this, our last issue before the festivities, we carry a story on the plight of the Koro-Koro community that has appealed to government for the construction of more clinics.
Presently, the community is heavily dependent on just one clinic – St. Joseph clinic – which caters for 24 villages. And this is a clinic whose range of services is so limited that it does not even provide midwifery services due to lack of space and electricity.
Councilor Maeketsang Molotsi told this paper her community had been forced to rely on a monthly outreach programme where nurses came to the village once a month to provide health services.
“People only access an outreach health programme once a month where they are told that if two or three members of the family are sick only one of them will get services while the others go unattended,” Ms Molotsi said.
It is these kind of tear-jerking stories that should inform our collective efforts. As some of our readers have indicated elsewhere in our independence supplement, national resources should be channeled into addressing such imbalances in service provision.
Last December, the-then newly elected Tanzanian President stunned his people and the rest of the world by ordering the cancellation of the country’s 54th independence commemorations and directing that the money be used on a clean-up campaign.
“It is very shameful that we are spending huge amounts of money to celebrate 54 years of independence when our people are dying of cholera and other treatable diseases,” President John Magufuli said at the time. He even took to the streets to participate in the clean-up exercise.
We are not calling for such drastic action. However, it is the spirit; the idea that certain national afflictions could move authorities and the citizens to take collective remedial measures that is to be admired.
Surely we have every reason to feast and make merry on Tuesday. The blankets must be worn, the national colours must also dazzle in the bright sun and the dances should be performed with so much gusto.
However, in all this we must not lose sight of what we still need to do to give all or at least the majority of Basotho access to health, education, food and other basic requirements for comfortable existence.
This is the mission our generation should seriously grapple with otherwise independence could well turn out to be the proverbial harvest of thorns for the majority of our hard-working citizens.