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‘Daughters can’t succeed their fathers as chiefs’

by Lesotho Times
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Tsitsi Matope

The Director of Chieftainship, Chief Mikia Molapo, says those calling for the daughters of chiefs to succeed their late fathers should “realistically and practically” analyse how this would impact on Basotho as a nation.
Chief Molapo, whose office falls under the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftainship Affairs, insists customs pertaining to the kingship and chieftaincy cannot be changed overnight due to their importance and bearing on the nation.

He further said while suggestions that customs should not be static might be justified “in some instances”, there is also need to weigh the “preparedness” of people to change such practices and the repercussions of the adjustment.

“When we talk about customs, it’s about the very fabric of our nation. We can’t undo ourselves as a nation by failing to preserve our most important customs, particularly those that have something to do with the chieftainship.

“We all know that daughters cannot succeed their fathers as chiefs. They have never assumed the title before and if the custom is to be changed, it cannot not be an overnight shift,” Chief Molapo said.
He explained according to Lesotho’s customary law, only sons and the wives of chiefs and Kings, could succeed their late fathers or husbands. In cases where there is no male issue, the wife of the chief would be next in line and after her, a son with another wife or the chief’s brother.
“If the daughter of a chief wishes to be a chief, she has to marry the son of a chief or a chief.

“There are questions as to why then should our custom deny daughters with royal blood but allow the wives of some chiefs who are not from royal families. In our custom, we have a deep-rooted belief that once a chief or King marries, the wife also becomes royalty. She becomes an integral member of the family.”
Chief Molapo further said in the case of daughters, there are critical factors that make it difficult for them to be bestowed such a huge responsibility.
“The practicality of it all is that one day, she will get married and also become a member of the family that married her.
“In our culture, she even adopts the husband’s name. How then, can she become the chief of a people she has left?

“To further complicate the matter, culturally, it is a taboo for women to pay lobola for their husbands. As a result, the son-in-law cannot leave his family and live with his wife’s family in the same sense as that of a woman leaving her family to become a member of her husband’s family.”

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