Majestic Queen steals the show at King’s birthday celebrations

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Pascalinah Kabi

QUTHING – HIS Majesty King Letsie III celebrated his 56th birthday with several local and foreign dignitaries in Upper Moyeni, Quthing, yesterday. Thousands of ordinary Basotho thronged the venue to celebrate with His Majesty. The event was punctuated with colourful displays and entertainment by members of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) and musicians from different genres including the popular Famo singers.

Her Majesty Queen ‘Mamohato Bereng Seeiso undoubtedly stole the show at her husband’s celebrations when she stepped out of her vehicle elegantly dressed in traditional Xhosa regalia known as sek’hak’he.

Sek’hak’he is a popular Xhosa traditional dress among the Xhosa women of Quthing and parts of South Africa. Although many women from the district yesterday donned the traditional attire, Her Majesty proved to be the showstopper with her designer black and yellow beaded sek’hak’he outfit.

She complemented the designer costume with a black traditional Xhosa doek (head dress), black heels and a matching clutch bag. The doek complemented Her Majesty’s attire so well that she could have been mistaken for the beautiful mystical Nandi character from Thomas Mofolo’s Chaka novel.

“Wow, she is very beautiful,” a girl shouted above the din of the vibrant celebrations as she gazed admiringly at Her Majesty who had just joined her husband on the red carpet.

Another onlooker also spoke of how Her Majesty had done full justice to the traditional Xhosa attire.

“She looks beautiful in a different way and anyone who ever doubted that sek’hak’he was beautiful will think again after today,” said one ‘Malineo Molapo adding, “she has taken the traditional attire to a whole new level and I don’t think anyone will ever match her on this one”.

Another woman who only identified herself as Lisebo said, “Quthing is a neglected district and the politicians don’t really care about us but today Her Majesty has shown us that she is the mother of all. We have seen her wearing beautiful lishoeshoe (traditional Basotho dresses) before and she looked beautiful but nothing will ever match today’s Xhosa attire.

“She looks like a queen from the fairytales. Our queen is naturally beautiful but today she was out of this world. For me, her attire is the highlight of the day.”

Yesterday’s celebrations began with the King receiving a royal salute from the LDF immediately after their Majesties’ arrival shortly after 10 am.

As per the tradition, immediately after receiving the royal salute, the King inspected the Lieutenant Colonel Mamatsasa Mofelehetsi-led parade which had assembled ahead of his arrival. As the King inspected the parade, he was given a 21-gun salute.

The royal salute was immediately followed by entertainment from the army that included demonstrations of their beautifully orchestrated walks and band. A Special Force unit of five parachutists also entertained the crowd, landing with their colourful parachutes.

The LDF’s Colonel Kolisang Nala said the size of the parade had been reduced due to the decreasing numbers of army officers in the barracks. Col Nala pleaded with His Majesty’s government to consider allocating additional funding to the LDF to enable it to recruit more officers.

“Your Majesty, this parade is usually not this thin but today it is this because the numbers in the barracks have drastically go down. It is my plea Your Majesty that the commander (Lieutenant General Mojalefa Letsoela)’s staff be increased when the situation allows it,” Col Nala said.

Hip-hop musician Stlofa and his Famo counterpart Morusu also thrilled the crowds with their performances.

But all the entertainment paled in comparison to the reception their Majesties got from the crowd when they walked around the ground greeting ordinary citizens who had come in their thousands to celebrate the King’s birthday.

Government Secretary Moahloli Mphaka said their Majesty’s traditional greeting was meant to ensure that the nation, especially young children, got an opportunity to know their King.

“When the government decided to hold rotational King’s birthday celebrations, the reason was to ensure that the nation saw and celebrated with His Majesty. It was also done to give children an opportunity to know His Majesty and appreciate that this is our only King that we are so proud of,” Mr Mphaka said.

Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and his coalition partners, Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki, Communications Minister Thesele Maseribane and Labour Minister Keketso Rantšo all attended the celebrations along with cabinet ministers, senior government officials, diplomats, local and foreign dignitaries and business people.

Former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, former deputy prime minister Lesao Lehohla, former ministers Timothy Thahane (Finance) and Mohlabi Tseko (Foreign Affairs), official leader of the opposition Mathibeli Mokhothu as well as ruling party and opposition legislators also graced the event.

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