Thaba Bosiu and the Festival at Morija


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Africa » Lesotho » Morija
October 1st 2006
Published: November 3rd 2006
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The drive to Thaba Bosiu was beautiful.
One our first trips into the country was to visit Thaba Bosiu, the hilltop fortress that was used by King Moshoeshoe to resist the Zulu invaders in the 1820’s. Moshoeshoe was a great ruler and diplomat who welcomed and offered assistance to all of the varied peoples who sought refuge from the invading Zulu. Within a short period of time, his small band had expanded to a considerable number, which he united under the Basotho banner to form Basutoland, later called Lesotho. The site at Thaba Bosiu repelled many assaults, at first from the Zulu and later from the Boers. Moshoeshoe’s grave is atop Thaba Bosiu, which is regarded as one of the most important historical sites in Lesotho. We wanted to walk to the top, but we ended up not having time.

Today was the third day of the annual National Arts and Culture Festival in Morija. We spent all three days at the festival where we worked in the Bahá’í information booth (tent). Morija was the first site that Moshoeshoe permitted missionaries to occupy in Lesotho, and the French set up a Catholic mission there. The festival was full of great music, including traditional, gospel and rock, and traditional dancing.

In order to create more activity at the Baha'i booth, Sherri and I offered to paint children’s faces. It took us some time to find brushes and a non-toxic paint we could use but we finally managed. On Thursday we went to set the booth up, which also happened to be a special day at the festival for school children, all of whom stared at us, as we happened to be the only two white faces at the festival grounds. The following day we began painting faces but had very few customers until we painted the face of Kal’s stepdaughter, Happe, and other children saw an example of our work. We informed them that we would paint their faces for the cost of zero cents. The first children were very shy and would only talk to us in a whisper. It became apparent to us that many of them had never been touched by a white person before,and many of the younger ones didn't speak English. Many of the children we painted the first day, however, returned the following day and brought their friends with them. Before long we had more kids in the booth than we could begin to paint, and we had recruited a local Bahá’í to help us. What wonderful faces they were to paint! It was so much fun for us and for them. In three days we had painted hundreds of faces, and there had been a distinct change in the attitude of the children. Many of them now smiled and waved when they saw us, and they began to speak to us more freely. They became much more comfortable with us, and some asked us when we would return to Morija. If the event is held next year, we will certainly try to return.

The landscape of Lesotho is a great deal like the American southwest. The country is also a lot like what the American west was like in the 1880’s with many shepherds and cattlemen who ride horses. It is common to see people wrapped in the traditional Lesotho blanket and wearing the straw hat that is very much a symbol of the country. During the festival, groups wore the brightly colored wool blankets to denote what part of the country the wearer was from.

An unfortunate side effect of being around all those wonderful children is
erosion landscapeerosion landscapeerosion landscape

In quite a few places we saw significant erosion, as the land is very over-grazed.
that this morning I woke up with the beginnings of an icky cold.



Additional photos below
Photos: 16, Displayed: 16


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Donkey riderDonkey rider
Donkey rider

We saw several donkey riders, mostly boys, carrying things; this one has a large bag of rice or meal.
Lodge near Thaba BosiuLodge near Thaba Bosiu
Lodge near Thaba Bosiu

This place was 2 km from Thaba Bosiu, and we were the only customers for lunch at that time. Everyone was very courteous and friendly, and I learned 2 new ways to fold cloth napkins!
Festival groundsFestival grounds
Festival grounds

The Festival was held on a large football field just under these cliffs in Morija.
Baha'i booth and neighborBaha'i booth and neighbor
Baha'i booth and neighbor

The Baha'is shared a tent with a small shop at the festival.
Happe in our boothHappe in our booth
Happe in our booth

Bob painted Happe's face with flowers and other lovely things each day.
Painting facesPainting faces
Painting faces

At first, we had a few customers. The boy in the green hat was named Theku, and he wanted to be painted something FIERCE. By day 3, he was a good buddy of ours.
Stage singersStage singers
Stage singers

There was constant activity on the stage, with many kinds of music, and religious speeches on Sunday morning.
Bob, Happe and Kal in the kitchenBob, Happe and Kal in the kitchen
Bob, Happe and Kal in the kitchen

At the end of the day, we usually gathered in the kitchen for dinner and sharing the day's events.


19th April 2010

macufe
I'll first like to pose a question: is the annual arts and cultural festival used to be held in morija going to be held in thaba-bosiu? this came to my recognition that festival will be fully culltural if it were held in thaba-bosiu, and i often hear many people assuming that this is going to be the case, is that true?

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