QUEEN ‘Masenate Mohato Seeiso participated for the first time in the 116km kilometre Moshoeshoe Walk which ended on Saturday.
Her Majesty was among hundreds who made the trek from Menkhoaneng in Leribe to Thaba Bosiu in the three-day annual event held in commemoration of the long walk taken by Lesotho’s founding monarch Moshoeshoe I. The walk traces the route King Moshoeshoe I and his people took as they fled from his birthplace of Menkhoaneng to Thaba Bosiu during the Lifacane period.
Queen ‘Masenate Mohato Seeiso’s debut participation coincided with the Moshoeshoe Walk’s 10-year anniversary. The walk was founded in 2007 with the intention of rekindling the spirit of unity amongst Basotho as embodied in King Moshoeshoe I’s legacy and to promote team-building skills as well as domestic tourism. This year, the event also attracted participants from various African countries and a few from overseas.
Despite being a first timer, Her Majesty managed to complete the strenuous trek, which entailed traversing lots of hills and crossing four rivers. She became a source of motivation to some participants who were faltering, while also drawing hordes of onlookers who were amazed at the royal’s endurance.
The trekkers started off last Thursday in Menkhoaneng and walked 31km to Outward Bound in Pitseng where they slept. On the second day, participants walked for 54km from Pitseng to Malimong. Saturday saw them covering the remaining 32km to Thaba-Bosiu.
Upon arriving at the destination, the weary travellers were met with a carnival atmosphere that included ululating villagers, hooting cars and stunt bike riders.
In her remarks at Thaba Bosiu Cultural Village, Queen ‘Masenate Mohato Seeiso said the trek was an exciting challenge although it was far from easy.
“The journey was quite challenging but exciting at the same time. I feel joyful as a first timer to have been able to finish the whole distance, but all I need now is a bed,” Her Majesty said.
“I felt inspired by participants who were older than me who motivated us to keep going even when we felt like quitting.
“I was also happy to see lot of people from other countries who came to help us celebrate the life of our founder, Morena Moshoeshoe and I thank everybody who made it. Let us meet again next year.”
One of the foreign participants, Shakes Mohutsioa from South Africa’s North West province, said the walk had the potential of drawing bigger crowds if properly marketed.
“This was my first time participating in this walk after I learnt about it on the internet. I came here to learn more about this beautiful country while also improving my health since I managed to lose more than five kilos,” he said.
“Apart from the beautiful sights we came across, the walk was a lot of fun while the camping experience was an unforgettable adventure.
“However, I think more can be done to market Lesotho as a tourist destination. This event is being taken lightly yet it is about the founder of this beautiful country.”
Mohutsioa added: “More facilities need to be constructed along the way to ensure there is more water for bathing and sleeping facilities just to name a few.
“Apart from that, I was elated to experience what King Moshoeshoe I went through and I am going to boast about it to my family and friends when I get back home.”
Felipe Acero Garay from Australia chipped in saying said there was a need for traditional exhibitions along the route of the walk.
“As people who made a lot of sacrifices to get here, we need to see a lot of Basotho crafts and various traditional foods,” he said.
“The organisers should also educate the surrounding community on the items they can sell to tourists which are unique and not readily available elsewhere.
“How can they sell dried fruits which we can get them at retail outlets? As tourists, we want to buy their produce because it is attractive and not because we feel sorry for the seller.”