In my earlier post, LeKuo had given our group an informative tour of his village. We returned later in the day to visit the village’s preschool and the Bathoso Cultural Museum. LeKue had explained during our earlier visit that all children attended preschool, beginning at age 2, and then moved on to elementary school at age 6. The government provided seven years of schooling, after which parents were expected to pay for any additional schooling their children might receive. Our group leader, Emma, added that this was very common throughout Africa – costs associated with education beyond elementary school were the responsibility of a child’s parents and only those who could afford it received a high school education.
The children here were as interested and amused by us as we them. They smiled and sang songs to us in both English and their native language, Sotho.
As we left the preschool to continue to our next destination, we noticed the older children walking down the road, singing loudly and carrying large heavy bags. We learned through our guide that the children were busy planting a garden at the elementary school and the bags were filled with the manure that would help fertilize their crops.
We continued through the village, finally arriving at the Basotho Cultural Museum. We waited as our guide went off to fetch the Museum’s curator. We waited several minutes until she arrived and gave us a brief tour of the buildings and small displays scattered about the grounds. She talked about native plant used for food and medicine, including aloe used in water to settle an upset stomach and a similar plant, called pig’s ears, that could be applied to itchy skin.
This was a talisman used by early tribes people to protect the village from lightning or other severe weather that could damage buildings, destroy crops, or kill livestock or people. While the tribes people practiced a form of Christianity now, many still believed in the power of these traditional religious objects to protect them and similar talismen could still be found near homes throughout the village.
Here she modeled animal skins that were traditionally worn by men to protect them from the cold while they tended their herds high in the mountains. She explained that animal skins are now only worn by young boys who were participating in the rites of passage to adulthood.
As we walked back to the Lodge, we encountered a young man dressed in traditional Basotho fashion. He is wearing a blanket, peaked cap (woven to resemble a mountain peak), and gum boots. Several of the men throughout the village, including those who worked at our Lodge, dressed in this fashion.
We arrived back at the Lodge and stopped at the local coffee shop for a relaxing cup of coffee and to discuss everything we had just learned and experienced. A group of young men (members of a local church choir) sang for Lodge’s guests as the sun sank toward the western horizon.
Later that evening, we planned to return to the village one last time for dinner – and for an experience that I will remember forever.