HER Majesty Queen ‘Masenate Mohato Seeiso says it is time to review cultural norms and discard those that are no longer relevant to today’s needs.
Her Majesty said this at the 19th annual Queen’s Garden Tea Party at the Royal Village in Matsieng last weekend. The event was held to raise funds for the Queen’s National Trust Fund whose proceeds are used to educate and empower disadvantaged children.
This year’s event which was graced by the Deputy Minister of Health, ‘Manthabiseng Phohleli, the Central Bank of Lesotho governor, Retšelisitsoe Matlanayane and the US Ambassador Rebecca Gonzales, was celebrated under the theme, Pearls of Wisdom.
Her Majesty said while culture was important for the sustainability of a nation, it was equally important to do away with outdated cultural norms that were frustrating the nation’s progress.
“It is true that a nation that does not have a culture can easily perish but we do need look into some of those cultural practices and determine if they still apply in this day and age,” Her Majesty said.
“We have not done enough to tap into the knowledge and wisdom of our elders and we must find ways to improve on those efforts.”
She said if left unchecked, some cultural practices would deter young women and men from achieving their goals.
“I speak to you on behalf of every child, both male and female. Sadly, our young men are often burdened at a tender age with great responsibility and expectations in preparation for them to become strong, responsible family men, often times unwittingly making them skip a vital step on their ladder of life that is being children and enjoying their youth. In some cases, we also contribute to them abandoning their studies.
“On the other hand, our young women, especially those in the rural areas, are also burdened with heavy responsibilities and are brought up to believe that they are there to play a subservient role to their male counterparts, including being their caregivers even at that early age. They are also told that it is responsibility to take care of their brothers’ and family’s daily needs such as cooking, cleaning, gathering wood and performing other domestic chaos in preparation for them to become perfect wives”
Her Majesty said there was nothing wrong with teaching and preparing the younger generation to become responsible adults later in life but that had to be done in the right manner that encouraged their growth. She said she was particularly touched by the plight of girls.
“Young women possess great potential to become leaders but are most regrettably faced with inescapable challenges in life dictated by social norms and cultural, traditional and moral values which have outlived their purpose, usefulness and their value to their young lives.
“It cannot be acceptable that 17 percent of girls in our country are married before the age of 18 and that one percent girls are married before they reach their 15th birthday.
“However, we can be encouraged that our country is committed to eliminating early child marriages by 2030. This is very positive but we must remain vigilante. This unfortunate phenomenon (of early child marriages) further impacts negatively on their possible future success and achievements. Statistics show that 95 percent of girls who marry before the age of 18 are likely to remain trapped in poverty,” Her Majesty said.
The trust fund was established by the late Queen ‘Mamohato Bereng Seeiso in 1985, with the aim of alleviating the challenges faced by the underprivileged.