By Advocate Mothepa Ndumo
The brilliant Mosotho Historian, Dr. Sean Maliehe, writes in his book chapter, Money and markets for and against the people: The rise and fall of Basotho’s economic independence, 1830s – 1930s* that King Moshoeshoe I founded this Nation in the year 1824. If our esteemed Founder and globally recognised diplomat, Statesman, pragmatist and spiritual giant founded this Nation in 1824, it stands to mathematical reason that we shall be celebrating two centuries (two hundred years) of our founding in the year of our Lord 2024.
Truth be told Basotho we have generally been derelict of our civic duties,** our civic virtues*** and our civic responsibilities.**** If we weren’t, we wouldn’t have a country teetering on the brink of failed statism. We have made it a national hobby to complain about politicians whereas, governance, as I wrote elsewhere, is a dance between the governors and the governed. Each party must perform its steps and guide the other along the dancefloor. Our dancefloor, in this case, being, inter alia, the economy, the political landscape, communities, families, the Nation and so on. If our political leaders had not failed so dismally we would not have 60 plus political parties in the Kingdom of Lesotho. Those are their missteps on the dancefloor; now, this begs the question…what steps and missteps have we as citizens made to lead us to the brink of this abyss we find ourselves facing?
I would like to take this opportunity to encourage Basotho, as opposed to berating us and our obvious missteps of the civic duty, civic virtue and civic responsibility kind, to view the next two years in the lead up to our two hundred years of existence as an opportunity to make our ancestors and our Creator proud. I propose something quite simple: that we each make personal pledges whereby we take public, individual, responsibility for our collective outcomes and resolve to make Lesotho even greater than it has ever been as we approach the two hundred years mark.
We are quite hesitant to take personal responsibility for our collective outcomes as a Nation, and yet, each and every one of us is civically bound to do so because we all live and breathe here. We cannot have a society of citizens who bask in the dim glow of apathy and yet are quick to point fingers and lay the blame ELSEWHERE. We must resolve to hold each other accountable and pledge to no longer entertain conversations that specialise in problem-identification but are not as robust when it comes to (a) the formulation of solutions and (b) the crafting of implementation mechanisms and (c) the taking of personal responsibility for the implementation of said solutions. You should see us go under the table when it is time for (a), (b) and (c) to come into effect. Well, time’s up on that!
I personally and publicly pledge to do the following from the 4th of October 2022 to the 4th of October 2023 (I shall renew, and add to, my pledge on a yearly basis henceforth until I depart this dimension):
- I pledge, to my ancestors and to my Creator, to adopt two more under-resourced schools thus bringing my personal Adopt-A-School project to three schools.
- I pledge, to my ancestors and to my Creator, to spend at least 40% of my spare time involved in community projects in my Constituency. These projects shall specifically include (a) pro bono coaching and mentorship for the children and youths therein who cannot normally access such services (b) community gardening and cleaning the environs in concert with the same youths who benefit from my coaching and mentorship outreaches and (c) outreaches for the elderly, disabled and other vulnerable groups in my Constituency.
- I pledge, to my ancestors and to my Creator, to be a better person and citizen in my speech, personal habits and the company I keep. Each person I come into contact with for any reasonable length of time must understand that negativity, excessive problem identification sans productive solutions and gossiping about others are all futile ways of being and will result in very little to show come 2024.
- I pledge, to my ancestors and to my Creator, to consistently pursue holistic being and living. Body. Spirit.
I have made a plea on social media for each Mosotho to make a pledge this year and renew it in 2023 after publicly accounting for what transpired in the period October 2022 to October 2023. I have also asked each Mosotho to interpret this concept whichever way they see fit because no one owns this idea as it belongs to all of us. I am just a mere vessel for the transmission of a message which belongs in the Creative Commons. Basotho can pledge on video and post to YouTube channels, they can buy print ads in the paper and write out their pledges, they can post them up on office walls and even create vision boards. Let your imaginations run wild Basotho but, most importantly, take personal responsibility for Lesotho NOW so that in 2024 we all have something worthwhile to celebrate. Morena Molimo O boloke Basotho le Lesotho. Khotso! Pula! Nala!
*In Hart, K. (Ed.) Money in a Human Economy. 5, 229 – 249. Berghahn Publishers, New York.
**Civic duty is defined as “duties ensuring that democratic values written into the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are upheld.” [source: Cyber Civics, Kansas Secretary of State]
***Civic virtue is defined as “virtue is about going beyond the necessary minimum—it involves an inner state of character that regularly expresses itself in praiseworthy action. So, thinking of citizenship in terms of virtues involves asking: What kind of attitudes, practices, and activities among citizens should we esteem, welcome, and respect? What states of character make citizens function well in their civic role? How can we encourage the development of these virtues? [these virtues include] the consistent and unequivocal pursuit of justice, wisdom, courage, temperance, tolerance, self-discipline, dedication to the common good and support for the government of the day. Democratic citizens in particular fulfill their civic role well when they are engaged, well-informed, and open to ideas and perspectives different from their own.” [source: Callaway, C. Civic Duties, Civic Virtues, and the Barriers to Effective Citizenship. Human Rights Magazine, Vol. 43. No. 2]
****Civic responsibility is defined as “including both responsibilities that are voluntary as well as those required by law.” [source: Cyber Civics, Kansas Secretary of State]