|WHAT BASOTHO NEED|
Great discoveries are often accidents. Roentgen was investigating something else when he realised that x-rays could project the skeleton onto a screen. An apple fell of Newton’s head and knocked him into understanding gravity. While what I’m about to say is no scientific discovery, and is no accident, the question remains: why didn’t someone think of it before?
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has completed a historic purchase by buying maize directly from a group of small-scale farmers in Lesotho. (1)
Simple, as most good ideas are. Less red-tape, fewer Maloti wasted on transport and storage, more benefits for the local population, more jobs for them, too. Why didn’t we do it before? I’ll venture a guess. It is probably due to the incompetence of the people in power, who usually just go with the motions without rocking any boats. As long as they are comfortable, that is. Their keyword is maintenance, not improvement. How do I know this?
I know because there is virtually nothing that has changed markedly in Lesotho since the country became independent from Jonathan’s regime. In fact, things seem to have doubled back and taken a step in the reverse direction. Nothing daring has been done. Oh sure, we’re having periodic elections. But the streets are dirtier. People are poorer. There are more dust-legged boys begging in the streets than there ever were: you can’t park your car without at least two of them fighting over helping you park, all for the prospect of getting a coin or two in return. These kids should be in school or apprenticeship situations. What are we building, here?
Since Leabua’s regime, Maseru is more confused, it seems, and the taxis (what I call buxis, and what Kenyans would call matatus) are amok all over town. And right there in town, people sell food or clothing from car boots. I know that the drought and the HIV virus have done much to deteriorate the situation, but they haven’t deteriorated it for everyone, see? Just for the vast majority of Basotho.
What is worse in my eyes is that in a little more than two years the world cup of football is coming to South Africa. South Africa is Lesotho and Lesotho is South Africa, but do you think we will “make a killing” from the fans that’ll be all over the region? Think again. One of our potential sources of money is tourism, but tourists don’t just visit places. They want to be assured that they’ll receive quality rooms, transport, food, that they’ll be safe and well looked after, that they’ll have things to see. We must clean up our act, otherwise we are going to lose out big time.
“This is a win-win situation,” said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran, speaking from the agency’s Rome Headquarters. “It helps provide income for small-scale farmers while saving money for WFP.” (2)