Tag Archives: competition

Lesotho in the Commonwealth Games

[Note: This is a cross-post. The original can be found on the TTL blog]

(photo cred:AFP)

The 2014 Commonwealth Games are happening right now in Glasgow, Scotland!

This is a pretty exciting time for everyone with a vested interest in Commonwealth nations as they watch the different countries compete for prestigious medals and prizes.

But you might find yourself wondering about a thing or two. For instance: ‘What exactly are the Commonwealth Games?’ or ‘What do these games have to do with Lesotho?’ Valid questions, to be sure. So to help ease your mind, I’ve compiled a short Q&A below!

1) What is the Commonwealth?

According to its founding Charter, the Commonwealth of Nations is a voluntary association of 53 independent and equal sovereign member states that collaborate through economic support and political strengthening to champion several key values, including: democracy, human rights, international peace and security, and more. Read the full charter here.

Moreover, all the participating Commonwealth nations share a certain degree of common colonial past with the United Kingdom, whose reigning monarch is currently their official head of state or perhaps was at one time. Today Queen Elizabeth II is recognised as the head of the Commonwealth.

2) What are the Commonwealth Games?

In 1891, an Englishman named Sir John Astley Cooper proposed a “Pan-Britannic-Pan-Anglican Contest and Festival…as a means of increasing goodwill and good understanding of the British Empire” – which it was at that time. The idea took a few years to organise, but since their initial round in 1930, the international athletic competitions now called the ‘Commonwealth Games’ have been held every four years (think British Olympics).

The events have expanded and changed over time, but the Games currently boast 21 able-body sports and 7 para-sports, which the host country sets with official approval from the Commonwealth Games Federation. The 2014 Glasgow Games include: Athletics, Badminton, Boxing, Cycling (Mountain Bike, Road, and Track), Diving, Gymnastics (Artistic and Rhythmic), Hockey, Judo, Lawn Bowls, Netball, Powerlifting, Rugby Sevens, Shooting, Squash, Swimming, Table Tennis, Triathlon, Weightlifting, and Wrestling.

3) How is Lesotho involved?

Wouldn’t you know it – Lesotho is a member of the Commonwealth, having joined in 1966.

Since 1974, Lesotho has attended the Commonwealth Games and sends most of its competitors to the running events (where their successes are no doubt a result of high-altitude training). For the 2014 Games, 27 athletes traveled to Wales where they trained and prepared to represent the Mountain Kingdom. Most of their events are scheduled for this week, so tune in to cheer them on with Basotho pride!

4) What else do I need to know?

Like many friendly competitions, the Commonwealth Games are an opportunity for the host city to put forth its best face and exhibit its unique history and amusing quirks. Certainly, Glasgow is not short of quirks, nor shy about celebrating them.

Dancing Tunnock’s Tea Cakes (a half-biscuit, half-marshmallow, non-dancing Scottish treat)

The fabled Loch Ness Monster herself in tartan (plaid)

But Lesotho has its own claims to fame, some of which the Basotho athletes flaunted when parading in the opening ceremony.

(Photo cred: AFP)For instance, the conical shape of the mokorotlo, or Basotho hat, is inspired by Mount Qiloane, one of the peaks in the Maluti Mountain range that give Lesotho its harsh climate – thereby justifying those beautiful Basotho blankets – and unique status as the country with the highest low point in the world: 1400m!

And because Lesotho is not lined up to host the Commonwealth games in the near future, I thought I’d highlight some other Basotho trivia worthy of your attention:

  1. Lesotho is a landlocked nation and the only one in the world that is completely surrounded by one other country – South Africa
  2. The most common mode of transportation is horseback
  3. The country motto is ‘Khotso, Pula, Nala’ meaning ‘Peace, Rain, Prosperity’ and respectively represented by the white, blue, and green of the Basotho flag (which also features the indigenous Basotho hat.
  4. Lesotho is home to one of the only two ski resorts in Sub-Saharan Africa. #AfriSkiFTW
  5.  Lesotho has its own dinosaur – the Lesothosaurus discovered in 1978 by Peter Galton

And now you know.

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Daisy Jo + Lady Gaga

My holiday gift to myself was a darling ink sketch of a girl clutching a bouquet of flowers in front of her face. The artist, local Ladybrand Afrikaner – of Living Life parentage – is a lovely young lady named Daisy Jo Grobler.

#kneepadsBut Daisy Jo is no idle hobby sketcher. She wan the Elizabeth Galloway Academy of Fashion Design YOU magazine design competition in which she designed Lady Gaga’s performance getup for the pop icon’s 2012 South Africa tour. With the only instruction being ‘white tshirt, 3 ways,’ she brought in delicious SA flair.

In 2013 she began studying at the Fashion Academy – yet another honor for winning the competition. This girl is going places.

And in real life? Daisy Jo is beautiful and quiet and elegantly dressed. Some day I’d love to catch her scribbling on a sketchpad, but normally I see her spending quality time with her parents in the Living Life Station Cafe.

I enjoy knowing good and humble people doing cool things. Can’t wait to see where Daisy Jo ends up next!

Miss America is Brown

The new Miss America is breathtakingly beautiful and brown.

Nina Davuluri of New York claimed her title in a flood of joyful tears…and a flood of xenophobic tweets. Perhaps not all of America is ready to allow their beauty standards to be met by someone in a minority, but the first runner-up was Miss California Crystal Lee (yet another Asian American).

Get with the times, people.

And let’s just take a moment to address the other monumental candidates in this year’s pageant. Miss Kansas Theresa Vail showed off two very visible tattoos and is only the second contestant ever to compete while on active duty for the US Army. Miss Florida Myrrhanda Jones tore two ligaments in her leg last Thursday and still showed up onstage – in a swimsuit and knee brace.

The competition was supposedly fierce, and Miss Missouri Shelby Ringdahl of good ole Columbia was one of the final twelve contestants. Not bad for a girl homegrown in the Midwest.

I knew very little of the odd tradition of beauty pageants in America (apart from what Miss Congeniality taught me, of course). I awoke this morning to a Twitter stream of outrage over the outrage on Twitter expressed against Miss Davuluri and figured I would read up a bit.

The pageant began in 1921 in Atlantic City, NJ as a way to boost summer tourism. In many ways, it still adheres to some hyperlocal traditions that make it an endearing pastime for the community. Take, for instance, the boardwalk parade.

Contestants cruise along the boardwalk in convertibles but the full lineup includes a long list of high school bands, local military, and dozens of New Jersey performance troupes. Shouts of “Show us your shoes!” hurled at the cars stem from the old tradition of sexually-deprived young men attempting to sneak a glimpse of the ankles of beautiful young women.

Today these shoes far out-dazzle the ankles bearing them.

Miss Ohio Heather Wells

Miss Wisconsin Paula Mae Kuiper

Add to the list of things I didn’t know: the District of Columbia is represented, this year by Bindhu Pamarthi, coincidentally another stunning Indian American. So are Puerto Rice and the US Virgin Islands.

And Ghana too takes part in the pageant world, apparently. I suppose that’s appropriate considering a Miss World pageant exists.

These beauty pageants are such strange events, but one must agree they are curiously fascinating. And now we return to our regular programming.