Wednesday, January 30, 2013

High In The Malutis

The following is a poem written by Father Chris Ahrends. It was written after his latest visit to the hospital. I think it gives a great perspective on life here in Mantsonyane.

High In The Malutis
By Chris Ahrends

High in the Malutis
I see clinging crops on
craggy mountain contours
surrounding thatched huts
and wonder,
whose homes they are?

I see the young boy not yet ten
plastic bottles
and gumboots singing
at dusk
dispatched to
fetch well-water
for the night and family
as have his brothers fetched
for years before.

I see a blanket-wrapped man
his dark brow still
darkened at dawn
driving six oxen already
carting rocks
that will one day become
his wall, his home, his kraal
his all. 

I see the bustling women walking, bright
patterned dresses swinging
umbrellas holding back
the sun and later, the
coming storm
on their way home
and ask myself,
where are they going and
will they get there in time
and for what?

I see the distant shepherd
herding scattered flocks on
well-worn paths
whip cracking
dust spraying
and wonder how
he keeps his eye
on so many
and against what
does he have to watch
that they may safely graze?

I see two shy toddlers
teetering near their hut
naked but
for unbuttoned jerseys
holed and old and
as dusty as
the gnarled tree
under which their wire-carts
lie waiting for them
to ride away one day. 

I see the tough teenage boys
sticks in hand
drifting to the village
keen dark eyes watching
through grey balaclavas
pulled down
as hard as they
believe they are when
prowling shabby shabeens
where one night
they'll fight
to show they're
becoming men.

I see the weary grandmother
sitting outside her door, her
thread-bare blanket a
garment of service of
years of toil
etched in each clear line of
her face, the story of
how, with her own hands, her
husband gone she
raised each child and brick to
build their lives and house
all three rooms proud,
and I'm overwhelmed by
her power.

I see an elder approaching,
white-bearded and bent,
the retired catechist, I'm told,
his wide-rimmed hat
pulled low, his
well-trod gate
now slow
after years of blessings
and walking and talking and teaching
a faith he still holds dear,
and, as we pass,
the palms of his hands held upwards,
reverent and open,
he says warmly
"Dumela N'tate",
and I too, am blessed.

This, and so much more,
everyone everything so real
in the Malutis I feel it all;
And wonder as I see
another life another deal,
who would I be?

Father Chris is a consultant with HOPE Africa and has been to Lesotho several times to work with the Hospital on their vision for the next 10 years. He was the chaplain to Archbishop Desmond Tutu for 5 years and has also been the director of Archbishop Tutu's foundation. You can read more of his poetry here.

Just a few house keeping things: First, a lot of you have contacted me about not being able to comment on my blog posts. I think I have fixed now, so comment away! Second, I now have a Picasa web album with all of the photos that appear on this blog. It will make it easier for you to look through them all. You can find it here.

Sala hantle!

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