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Lesotho Fu Man Chu

Lesotho Fu Man Chu

by Montle Moorosi, illustration Alastair Laird / 01.08.2011

To every birth its blood… or something like that, that’s what the first South African black art fag said. When people die others are born. It doesn’t get more simple, loving and awful as that.
“Hey, why doesn’t Lesotho just become a part of South Africa? Wouldnt it be easier for Sotho people then?” I ask my cousin.
“Uhm… because we’re a fucking country, that’s why! You cant just erase a country.”
And with that, the King of the Yellow Bones was back home.

The last time I visited Lesotho was in 2007 for my cousin’s wedding, now it’s my grandfather’s funeral and I’m pretty excited to be back home for a good old Sotho time. In 2007 the city was still the slightly changed version of the Lesotho I grew up in during the 90s. It was still quiet, slow, shitty and African. Rumours of malls being built did the rounds but nobody believed a word of it. Our ingrained African cynism assumed that the funds would be squandered by politicians on sports cars. Who gives a fuck, theres over 4 KFCs in the tiny capital of Maseru, who the fuck needs a mall?

The border as usual is a mess. Rows of delivery trucks, with their cargo of various vital food items and other wares, all urgently needed in Lesotho, line the road all the way back to Ladybrand waiting to be searched and harangued by the Lesotho customs officials. Cars with South African license plates are given preferentially quick service.

We are spared the administrative raping at customs and a South African policeman ushers us to a queue-less line where they scan our passports, and just like that we’re allowed entry to the Mountain Kingdom. A strange rush of euphoria fills my body as we drive out of the border, to my left a dilapidated Jehovah’s witness church, to my right is a large billboard with the face of the prime minister and his illustrious title Right Honourable Mosisili and right below is an endorsement from the Lin Kwo Kim University. The new college of technology built and funded by the Chinese government.

Near the golf course I see the construction of townhouses that are going to cost R4 million each. According to the old Lesotho rumour mill, all the units have already been sold.
“Who can afford those houses? I thought people here are broke.”
“Probably government officials.” Says the old man.

Not very far from the golf course is the South African embassy, it used to be a humble looking thing, like any other government building. Now it’s like something that came out of Sarah Connor’s vagina, a big cybertronic-themed modern bauhaus turd with finger print recognition security surrounded by stray cattle, chicken shit, potholes, laundry lines and a whole bunch of some other third world shit.
“Why dont you become a part of South Africa?” I ask again.

I was told it would be blisteringly cold but I was sweating inside the old man’s Honda Ballade. No eating in the car allowed, and by now the old man was in one of those moods where he rips you a new colostomy bag is he doesn’t eat something because he has to wait for my mother and sister who are getting custom dresses made at dirt cheap Zimbo prices from a Chinese lady named Tsu-Tsu.
“Have you been to this new mall?” He asks.
“No, I haven’t been here in 4 years. Let’s go.”

It takes about two minutes to get there, and like all malls in the world it is nothing but a big block of cement with a few people thrown inside somewhere amongst the boxes of shoes and public toilets. Pioneer Mall. We park the silver Honda ballade amongst the other BMW’s, Mercedes, VWs, Pajeros and a plethora of SUV and 4×4 vehicles. Johannesburg with dust and a lot more potholes. If Soweto was a country they would call it Lesotho.  The mall only has two floors which consist of a Pick ‘n Pay, some clothing shops with fake designer labels, King Pie, Steers, another KFC, Spur, Ocean Basket and a Cinema. Which is great because the last time I was here the latest thing in town was Nandos. Before Nandos opened in Lesotho chicken fiends such as myself had to drive all the way to Bloemfontein or Ladybrand to taste fast food nkhukhu that wasn’t KFC. Colonel Sanders has a seat in Lesotho’s parliament.
“Where do you want to eat?” I say to the old man.
“You choose buddy.” Can’t do Spur because he has gout, so that’s out.
“Ocean Basket?” I say.
“Yes! Sounds good.” Creatures of habit the Moorosi’s.

We’re seated at the sunny patio section that faces the car park. The sweat begins again and I begin to undress as the plus sized gold tooth bearing yellow boned waitress by the name of Mathabo asks us what we want to drink. The old man orders a glass of white wine, I have the native beer, Maluti, which tastes better than any beer in the world. I could see it selling very well at The Biscuit Mill. “Brewed with Lesotho’s finest spring water”.
Unlike other Ocean Baskets this one has fresh Lesotho trout and Angelfish on the menu. We order both and start talking loud and boisterous. Let them know that we’re semi-rich out of towners.

Around us are business looking patrons on work breaks, big burly men and women of light complexion, a smorgasboard of yellowbones. There is one old frail red skinned white man eating alone behind us, and two tables away a group of Asian men with Indonesian features. They’re having a seafood platter, but the one guy looks like he’s eating a plate of shit. His friends are force feeding him prawns. His eyes are watering. I go outside for a cigarette. I see two white children eating candy floss, giggling… I never knew any white children my age until I went to boarding school in South Africa.

On the opposite end of the mall, on a balcony where the smokers congrgate, is a new grand building nestled on the top of a mountain. The new Lesotho Parliament, paid for by the Chinese government and built by Chinese companies. The old library has also been refurbished and modernised, all on the same deal with China. It’s very peculiar when a Communist state starts investing in a multi patrty government.
“It’s all about the economy, it wouldn’t matter if Hitler was ruling Lesotho, they’d still be investing.” My cousin tells to me.
They also built the long stretching and much needed Pioneer Road which eventually ends at the new House of Parliament.

Throughout out my stay I hear various versions of the story about how Lesotho has “evolved”. You can buy cocaine at the car wash near the golf course. A 22 year old Chinese guy in Mokhotlong, who owns four shops also pimps Chinese prostitutes now. And of course there’s a new KFC opening every year. When I used to live in Lesotho there was a large number of Italian immigrants who were shop owners and businessmen with Italian sotho families who spoke both languages fluently. There were also plenty of Portugeuse cafés with their greasy chips and magazine stands full of porn. They were all Sotho people, with the same mannerisms and typical slow drawl when they talk.

But now there’s a new regime in town. A new library, a new house of parliament, exotic hookers, a college… all this regalia but no palatial. All tits and no nipple. The Chinese only hire labour brought in from China and leave the local workers with the menial jobs. The improvement of Lesotho’s facilities are indeed a necessity, but at what future cost? Tanzania, Angola, Zimbabwe and many other African states are fast becoming psuedo Chinese colonies. But one has to ponder, Lesotho was in economic ruins before the huge surge of Chinese interest and it has had a covertly tense political climate for sometime with a few attempted coups which don’t seem to make major headlines back in South Africa. Who else gives a fuck but Uncle Yuan?

After my grandfather’s funeral while tucking into some chicken tripe and feet I get into a conversation with one of my cousins about how hilarious it was when I tried to buy a gas cylinder from a Chinese vendor who spoke an awkarwd but fluent Sotho. I insisted on speaking English because I found the whole situation a litle too Fu-Man-Chu in Blackface.
“It looks good for now when you see these new roads and shops.” Says my cousin. “The Chinese aren’t poor like we are. I can’t afford to go to China and start a new life. I’m stuck here. Basotho people are dumb.” He spits.

*Illustration Alastair Laird.

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RESPONSES (32)
  1. Anonymous says:

    Limkokwing is a Malaysian University, you intentionally twisted information to ‘spice up your story’ #fail

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  2. tizzle says:

    @ aonymous^^^ youre fucking dumb. HAVE YOU EVEN BEEN TO LESOTHO?

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  3. kaizer says:

    A good article Montle but I don’t know anyone who grew up in Lesotho and never saw a white child. Maseru Prep and Machabeng have white children. There are white families with children in Lesotho. Tourists also visit with their children. I guess you grew up in a different part of Lesotho. All in all you got the gist of Lesotho. Its really becoming a sad place that has lost all semblance’s of respect. It kills me to visit home and some times it feels better to stay away but that is not the solution. Thanks Montle.

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  4. gm says:

    Montle, loved a couple of your observations, ‘If Soweto was a country …’ excellent, and I imagine I can see you and your old man cruising to the mall… but you should run through it again – lots of typos and messy sentences….. khotso pula nala, tjommie

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  5. lsk says:

    Thought your article was interesting and topical in some ways, but you appear very cynical and the swearing – really don’t see how that added to the story!

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  6. Maria McCloy says:

    if soweto was a country it’d be lesotho. There’s nothing even remotely similar about the two. What nonsense.

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  7. Somie says:

    you’re too jaded about your country

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  8. Melanie says:

    Let’s face it, Lesotho is a province of SA that feels the need to be considered a “kingdom” so that it can get donor funding

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  9. Ts'eliso says:

    @Melanie:

    That’s not true, there is a series of historical issues surrounding why Lesotho got located to where it is currently.
    And I’m not sure sure what Montle’s intent was with this article…

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  10. Mokhethi says:

    @Melanie you are retarded…. the are some truths in the views expressed by Montle, but the majority of what is said by Montle is merely an opinion.. and you know what they say about opinions, right?

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  11. Kontlap says:

    22” on thoroughbreds

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  12. Marake says:

    Montle, you’re an ignorant butt-hole who only sees the dull side of things in KOL. WTF is similar between Lesotho and Soweto?
    “The South African embassy… (is) surrounded by stray cattle and chicken shit”??? really now?! Go suck a cork bra, and unless you have anything positive to say, like solutions to our actual problems (not the over-exaggerated crap you wrote about here), shut your pork trap.

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  13. Lerato says:

    Wow. Some people are getting heated about the soweto thing. Born bread and buttered in Lesotho, growing up there it seemed beautiful and it was lush and green, when i go back home now, its just dry and brown.
    Even though I never like to admit, but Lesotho is a 3rd world country and thats the sad truth. And Montle, Ive been to soweto a lot and its still more developed than Lesotho. You cant compared the roads, the buildings and the lifestyle. When I moved to joburg my mother said stay away from Soweto and naturally thats what i waned to explore. And she said its because ke “lekweishini” and i cant even compare the so-called suburbs tsa Lesotho.
    Im not sure the purpose, of the piece but it tells the truth, count the inults to check how honest you were.

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  14. Bonzy Salesman says:

    I couldn’t even finish reading this article. Ke kopa hore ho uena, u ntso bua masepa. Le hona a nkhang.!

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  15. Thabo says:

    o bua masepa o dulang ntlong ya RDP..’MAO SEBONO….

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  16. Motebang says:

    ontso bua masepa ‘mao sebono towee

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  17. Lerato says:

    To all the people, who choose to speak of the issues and topics mentioned in the aricle piece, why? Is it because you dont have the intellect to dispell the mitruths(in your opinion) or what is it really? Oh and speaking of rdp’s, they have electricity and running water, and hot water from a geyser, majority of homes in lesotho dont have the basic amenities not even roads to even emplement them.
    What saddens me about the insulting comments is, the reflection of why Lesotho continues to dilapitate, and will soon become an extinct nation.

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  18. kaizer says:

    You have a point there Lerato. Those who have nothing to say always resort to insults but the insults say more about them than the people they purport to insult . Lerato terms like 3rd World countries are very outdated and neo-colonialist. For those terms to be used so loosely by a person they were designed to denigrate is saddening indeed. We also have to look at what it means to be developed. We throw these terms around but they are very western defined. Is having beautiful buildings, restaurants, malls and all other amenities considered developed? I know people who live in villages with nothing but they are the most caring, humane and appreciative of life than people from so-called developed countries. Its better to be developed as a person than as a country. Just my two-cents.

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  19. Mokhethi says:

    The situation on the ground isn’t rosy but we roll with it. The grime, the dirt, the filth, the shit you can’t stand, why glorify it?

    You are not helping the situation by just point fingers, you are on the outside looking in, thinking that you are looking out.

    Get involved and make a difference otherwise keep your opinions to yourself, because there won’t be enough paper to wipe off the bullshit of your mouth…

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  20. RP says:

    You have said nothing about the month end que of +100 people waiting to cash their entire salary from an atm. That’s a suprise.
    There is a lot wrong with this beautiful place (Lesotho) Its not the bliss of riding the Gautrain as it evades the reality of millions of our neighbours living in abject poverty while some few “Basotho” enjoy better economic circumstances in SA. The Chinese aren’t doing anything the British and other colonialists haven’t done here or even elsewhere before.
    But, this piece is not about thoughtful discourse, its sensationalism. It’s gotten you so many hits, even mine.

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  21. youknowwho says:

    I don’t think “truth” applies here. This is a personal piece about Montle’s reaction to “going home” and, as long as he is truthful about how he experienced it, then who can call him a liar? Beautifully written piece, more reflective than a lot of your writing, M, and very much the better for it. You still need a good sub, but I always read you and admire your work.

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  22. just some chick says:

    sometimes i wonder why i subscribe to this shit! lol

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  23. Piper says:

    Seeing as how we are all talking about opinions…in MY opinion, there is absolutely nothing Sesotho or Bosotho about Montle. He may have some connection to this country but as a person, he lacks what epitomises being a mosotho. The way he expressed his opinion in this article smells of the ignorance quite common in a lot of South Africans. One wonders why he wants Lesotho to become a part of South Africa if Basotho people are so dumb and this country is so useless, why want it to become a part of a country that clearly is well off and has RDP houses with geysers and electricity that were built by a polygamist government???

    I love Lesotho. It’s not the best country in the world and it sure as hell isn’t the richest.It doesn’t have the tallest buildings and it doesn’t have the biggest malls. That’s not why I love it. I love it because of all the places I have been to this is the only place were despite the absence of all these things, the people are happy, they live with it, they survive and they try to thrive. I love this country because instead of expecting some fat polygamist politicians to build them houses, they build their own. Instead of expecting the same politicians to build them TOILETS, they build their own. Instead of going on strike and expecting government to do every little thing for them they go out and do it themselves. SO WHAT if we like KFC and not your McDonalds??????Does that make us dumb????? SO now because we have Chinese in the coutry making more money than us we should start burning them alive and looting their stores like the so-called “developed” South Africans??????

    Don’t forget that South Africa WAS BUILT BY BASOTHO. South Africa would just be another African country struggling to make use of its resources if it wasn’t for the sweat of Basotho both pre-democracy and post-democracy.

    If you want Lesotho to become part of South Africa, so be it. Be warned, if it does, Basotho are going to take over. Then what will you say???

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  24. I az awesome :) says:

    Viva La Sotho’s!
    🙂

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  25. Kontlap says:

    Montle is KING

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  26. Kontlap says:

    Montle is into planes and boats now, not cars and cris’ thats for little punks!

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  27. Liepollo says:

    if third world as a term is so outdated then why teach it still at universities…most commentors should do some reading! e.g. stuart hall (1992); mamdani (2001) and wainana’s “how to write about africa” (2006)….

    montle your piece is a dish of nonsense (glamourised styling with a splash of aloofness/shallowness) and sweet (visual, honest and sincere). nonetheless, your fans/retractors could/should be asking themselves what they know of lesotho that is not nostalgic romaticism nor cynical regurgitation for its current state to be as it is…..

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  28. Liepollo says:

    p.s in conclusion: LOL

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  29. braai master says:

    I get much pleasure spending my Malutis(money) in the Malutis (mountains) on a delicious Maluti (beer).
    They even Have Maluti Draft Now its THE BEST BEER.

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  30. Anonymous says:

    Where did thid mataramputana start? fill me in, i’m empty of knowledge of what is going on here……

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  31. Me says:

    Montle hantle u tso reng keng!!!

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  32. Mosotho says:

    This Montle Moorosi character is a piece of shit. Please stop talking kak about Lesotho. Its assholes like you that make Lesotho look bad. You are a shitty person, if you have nothing to say about Lesotho please take a grate and sit the fuck down bitch!!

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