Lecture triggers debate on Basotho tradition

MASERU — The fourth annual Mohlomi Memorial Lecture last Wednesday triggered fierce debate on Basotho’s tradition of praying for rain.

Associate professor Francis Rakotsoane delivered a provocative Memorial Lecture at a packed Lesotho Sun.

His theme was: New perspectives in indigenous knowledge — the water snake and its place in Basotho traditional religion.

The presentation, Rakotsoane said, was meant to show that snake worship was also found in southern Africa.

“I gave a typical analysis of Molutsoane, Lesokoana and Mokete oa Mohula as three well-known cultural ways of praying for rain and they showed that the ancient Basotho did address some of their prayers to the water snake as the object of their worship,” he said.

Rakotsoane also sought to shed light on the concept of Molimo (God) and Balimo (ancestors) saying Basotho referred to one ancestor as Molimo which is now used to refer to God.

“A singular form of Balimo is Molimo that is what is meant in the Basotho prayer, molimo o mocha rapela oa khale (New ancestor pray to the old one).”

He added: “The identification of Molimo with the Christian celestial God by the Christian missionaries is a mistake that needs to be corrected.”

Rakotsoane is an associate professor in the department of theology and religious studies at the National University of Lesotho (NUL).

He has recently served as dean of the Faculty of Humanities at  NUL.

He is widely published and his research interests cover areas such as Basotho religious thoughts, African rites of passage and philosophy of culture.

 “The annual memorial tries to get people together and discuss the historical traditions and cultural rituals of Basotho,” Limakatso Motjope, the chairperson of the Friends of Morija Museum and Archives said.

She said the Memorial is meant to honour Mohlomi mor’a Monyane because he advised Moshoeshoe I to be a nation-builder and eminent statesman.

“The memorial lecture is organised by The Friends of Morija Museum and Archives to honour Mohlomi and his wisdom.

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