Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A quick lesson in Sesotho

The people that live in Lesotho are called Basotho in the same way that people from North Carolina are called North Carolinians. One Basotho is called a Mosotho. Lesotho and the Basotho nation were founded by King Moshoeshoe I. The language spoken by the Basotho here in Lesotho and around much of Southern Africa is called Sesotho. So, the Basotho in Lesotho speak Sesotho. (Say that 5 times fast)

Sesotho is a wonderful language! It is extremely fast and requires a quick tongue, which I have not yet acquired! Several people here have told me that it is an easy language, which at this point I have to disagree with! It has really been a struggle to get the pronunciation of words down, but I think that I am starting to get the hang of it thanks to Me Matsepo. She has been giving me daily Sesotho lessons.

To give you a little taste of Sesotho, try to say this word: Utloa. Go ahead, I’ll wait….. Although I didn’t hear what you said to be sure, chances are you didn’t say that right! Utloa is the word for “hear.” I cannot attempt to spell this word phonically for you because the “tl” sound does not appear anywhere in English. There are 3 sounds that are particularly difficult to say; tl, hl, and q. Hl and tl are similar sounds. Try pronouncing the two letters together, even though that seems impossible. Now try this word: Labohlano. You still probably didn’t say it right! Labohlano means Friday. Now the q sound is completely different. The q sound is like a cluck with the tongue. It requires you to stop mid word, make the sound, and then continue with the rest of the word. Try this one: Moqebelo. Moqebelo means Saturday.

There are also a whole slew of sounds that are not difficult to pronounce, but require you to trick your brain into saying the right thing. Sounds like: lu, li, kh, ts, oa, and oe. I’ll just give one of these as an example. Lu and li look like they would sound like “loo” and “lee,” but in fact make the sounds “doo” and “dee” This is why the word for hello is spelled lumela but pronounced “doo-mel-ah.” The word for Tuesday is spelled Labobeli and pronounced “la-bow-bay-dee.” As I said, they are not hard to pronounce, but tricky for my brain to process!

As you can see, it is a difficult language. But it is so incredibly beautiful as well. With each day I get better and better. It will be an ongoing battle, but one that I look forward to. Here in Maseru, it is pretty easy to get by with English. Mantsonyane will be a different story. The people in the rural areas of Lesotho speak Sesotho almost exclusively. Sala Hantle!

Friday, September 14, 2012

I made it!

Lumela! Greetings from Lesotho! I have finally arrived in Maseru. Delene and I arrived last friday and met with Bishop Adam Taaso. I could not be happier to have finally arrived. Lesotho is a beautiful place and the people are warm and inviting. I feel right at home here in this mountain community. Lesotho is known as the Kingdom of the sky, which is a fitting title! Asheville, NC has a nick name of "The land of the sky," so I think it is fate that I have been placed here for the year.

Maseru, Lesotho

My time here in Lesotho will be spent doing many different things. For the first three months, I will be living here in Maseru, which is the Capital. I will be living and working here at the Diocesan office. They have a nice boarding house that they have graciously let me stay in. My work will include helping to create a communications strategy, which will include a new website for the diocese. Its going to be a lot of work, but I think the end result will be very helpful to the diocese. After my 3 months here in Maseru, I will move up to Mantsonyane to work with the St. James Mission Hospital. The work there will be similar to the work with the diocese. A new website for the hospital will allow them to stay connected with donors and let the world know what's going on! Im excited to be doing this kind of work for the diocese and the hospital because it will allow me do find all sorts of interesting stories to share. I think it will allow me to get closer to the communities that I will be working with.

The Diocesan Office and Boarding House

Living here in Maseru has been great so far. The boarding house is great because people come from all over Lesotho and Southern Africa to stay here. I've been able to meet so many interesting people! It is also nice living where I work because I dont have to walk far in the morning to get to work! Each morning here at the Diocesan office starts with an 8 o'clock mass in Sesotho. The structure of the service is very similar to what I am used to at home, which is good because I would be completely lost without that knowledge. I have started taking some Sesotho lessons with the Bishops wife, Matsepo. It is a very fast language but I think I will be able to pick it up with some practice.

Bishop Adam in the Cathedral

Although I am very excited to be here, I do miss all of my new friends that I made in Cape Town. Everyone at the HOPE Africa office was so welcoming to me for my short stay. I cannot thank Mpho and her family enough for hosting me at their house for my stay in Cape Town. I felt like an old family friend. On my last night in Cape Town, the whole HOPE Africa staff took me out for a dinner on the beach! We went to a restaurant called Snookies and ate some delicious fish and chips. We ate our dinner on the beach with one of the prettiest sights of Table Mountain you can see in Cape Town. I cant thank the HOPE Africa staff enough for their hospitality. Sala hantle! 

HOPE Africa dinner on the beach

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Redeeming The Past

Last night I had the pleasure of going to the book launch for Fr. Michael Lapsley's new book "Redeeming The Past." Fr Michael is originally from New Zealand, but moved to South Africa in the 1970s during the height of the apartheid government. He worked for years to end the suffering and oppression of the apartheid regime. Due to his active dissent towards the government he was forced to move to Lesotho, where he continued his work. In 1990, while working in Zimbabwe, Fr Michael received a package from the South African government that contained a bomb. Upon opening the package, the bomb exploded and severely injured Fr. Michael. He lost both of his hands and one of his eyes, but he survived. He has gone on to work with the victims of apartheid, the Rwandan genocide, homeless veterans in the United States and many more. His story is truly inspirational. Fr. Michael still does some work in Lesotho, so hopefully I will be able to work with him his year. 

The book launch was attended by many members of the local government and had many speakers, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu! It was quite an honor to hear Bishop Tutu speak. Fr. Michael and Bishop Tutu had worked together over the years to help end the apartheid government. Bishop Tutu spoke about how far South Africa had come, and how far it needs to go. His words were filled with love, humor, and passion. He made strong warnings about not letting the sacrifices that the South African people had made for freedom be in vain. "But I ask myself, why were we in the struggle? The highest price was paid for freedom, but are we treating it as something precious?" 

He also spoke out against such a large gap in the wealth in South Africa and throughout the world. He said that it was a shame that some people can live so well, while others are left with next to nothing. He asks, "Yes it is legal, but is it moral?" It was a true honor to have heard Bishop Tutu speak. As Delene and I rode back from the launch she said, "It is nearly impossible to hear Tutu speak and not act upon his words." And it is so true. It is easy to see how this man has inspired so many to fight against oppression. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Cape Town

Greetings from Cape Town! I arrived in South Africa safely on tuesday night and was met by the lovely HOPE Africa team. The greeting was warm and inviting! Although the flight was long, the time passed quickly. Luckily, the flight was not full so I had plenty of space to stretch out.
During my time here in Cape Town, I have been living with the family of one of the HOPE Africa team, Mpho. She and her family have graciously accepted me into their house for the week. I've spent my time divided between the HOPE Africa office and Mpho's home. My time at the office has been spent learning more about what HOPE Africa does and what I will be doing in my placement in Lesotho. I will be headed out to Lesotho on friday with Delene, the CEO of HOPE Africa.
Cape Town is absolutely gorgeous! We have been driving around and looking at all of the breathtaking bays and getting acquainted with the city. Its been a little chilly, but spring has just begun. They say it will be full summer weather by October. My time in Cape Town has been wonderful and I am looking forward to getting to my permanent placement in Lesotho!

Camps Bay

Mpho and Tskani

A Cape Town sunset

A photo from my Aunt Claire at the airport

My workstation

The HOPE Africa office

HOPE Africa 

The South African Flag