Tag Archives: lesotho

On the speed of life

It must be said that however much I craved a faster pace of daily life whilst in Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Lesotho, and even South Africa, London has far surpassed my expectations in the sheer speed of time. Despite a slow, frustrating beginning – as the housing search dragged on and on without success – each hour has shortened and my diary is suddenly filled with events, classes, meetings, and the incessant readings required by my course.

So although few were likely curious about my absence from the Menace these past several weeks, and even fewer truly concerned, I can announce that I am indeed alive and well. And I look forward to a return to relative normalcy on Sunday as I finally move to my own flat (no more couchsurfing!), re-start training for an upcoming 10K, and settle into life in London.

Time flies when you’re having fun, or so they say, but here it seems to fly by whether you’re paying attention or not. No fun-having required.

Advertisements

The Visa Saga (in many parts)

Who knew going to get my Master’s at a London university immediately after living and working in southern Africa would be so horrendously difficult?

Stay tuned as I recount my (ongoing) fun adventures while subjecting my passport to a rigorous month of border crossings.

At least I’m having fun, right?

Part 1: Leaving Lesotho
Part 2: Border-Jumping to Bechuanaland
Part 3: Finding a Plan en Route
Part 4: The Application
Part 5: A Second Border-Jump

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.

King Letsie has a birthday

When the King has a birthday, the whole kingdom gets a day off to celebrate. One lucky district (the honour rotates annually) hosts the royal family for two days of official birthday festivities. Mokhotlong turned out for this year’s royal birthday bash.

Day 1: A Day at the Races

IMG_9445

Day 2: A Formal Affair

IMG_9540

The King’s in Town

King Letsie III is in Mokhotlong to celebrate his birthday tomorrow (a national holiday in Lesotho). And while this photo is not a true likeness of His Majesty, it certainly adds to the celebratory atmosphere, eh?

Gargi Wable at TTL

IMG_8230Touching Tiny Lives tends to host a pretty international crowd, from a range of cross-border donors and visitors (Germany, Sweden, Gabon, etc.) to the rotating temporary staff, myself included. At present, the campus can boast of one restless American, one  chipper Canadian, and a pint-sized, industrious Indian. From India.

IMG_8720

Gargi Wable (pronounced wvah-blay, with that curious blend of V and W) is a Maharashtri by birth, a nutritionist by trade, and a perpetual student by choice. We’ve discovered a shared love of good cooking and of the same breed of reading material and hold likeminded opinions about those development operations we’ve discussed at length. Lofty and probing academic conversations had been absent from my life until the final minutes of May when Julie and Gargi arrived.

IMG_8638Her role at TTL for the two months of her stay involves tying up the many loose ends of the floundering UNICEF grant that Jenn began last year. With a strict timeline to follow, and no external duties of distraction, Gargi has made rapid progress. Her nutrition expertise has proven invaluable to grant implementation and to growing staff knowledge, and her unassuming presence has kept life on campus homelier than usual.

Rest assured, Julie and I have already made plans to visit Gargi in two years’ time when she has returned to Mumbai following her PhD studies in New York.
IMG_8725

Taster Trip 2014 | Final itinerary

In under 3 weeks, we put over 3,000km on Winston’s tires. In each place we visited, we spent no more than 2 nights (with the exception of Durban) giving us a wee ‘taste’ of each place and plenty of incentive to return in time.

With a few adjustments from our original route, I give you our final trip itinerary, complete with links to my photos and reflections.

[Accompanying photos are primarily a compilation of my own, Marijn’s, and Cathy’s. How fortunate, else I’d never feature in a single one.]