Movie on royals premiers on Friday

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Curator of Morija Museum Stephen Gill

Mohalenyane Phakela

A FILM on the history of the royal family in Lesotho, titled Ho Llela Borena is set to be premiered on Friday at Victoria Hotel in Maseru.

Directed by the versatile writer Rets’epile Makamane, the film, Ho llela borena (yearning to reign) is based on archival material and interviews conducted from 2015 to 2016 for the heritage mapping exercise of the greater Makhoarane area. The film was produced by Morija Museum & Archives (MMA).

According to an MMA statement, the project is meant to unearth, document, preserve, present and promote Makhoarane as an important national heritage cluster under the auspices of Morija Museum & Archives and the Royal Archives & Museum.

Elderly informants from the royal villages of Matsieng, Makeneng and Phahameng recall and narrate some of the important stories that tie together and give meaning to the evolution of the monarchy.

This 54-minute documentary in Sesotho with English sub-titles covers much of the standard outline of the history of the royals of Lesotho in a frank and personal manner.

Often told from the perspective of women, the narrators focus as much on the royal women as their more famous husbands.  One may not necessarily agree with the different perspectives or ‘facts’ as these are narrated, but the film is fresh and compelling, and unearths a good deal of tradition which has not been previously documented or presented to the broader public. It is peppered with humour, surprising tales, outrage, compassion and forgiveness, as well as hope for the future. 

The film typifies efforts by the younger generation of film-makers in Lesotho to tell contemporary and historical stories in a deeper and more candid manner.

The film won the Best Documentary Film at the Lesotho Film Festival in November 2016.

MMA Curator, Stephen Gill said the aim was to reveal the untold royal history especially of women who have been sidelined in most historical narratives.

“From the beginning of 2015 we started on historic mapping exercise in the villages of Matsieng, Makeng and Phahameng,” Gill told the Xpress People on Friday.

“It was during this exercise that we came across elderly people who possessed knowledge of various historical incidents. We became aware that those were untold stories which would soon fade away if not documented as those old people may soon die.

“The film provides a rather obscured history especially of women who are often downplayed in history narrations so the documentary moves beyond the typical narration of incidents that have been told before.”

He also described Rets’epile as an “experienced director who has worked for Lesotho National Broadcasting Services as well as the South African Broadcasting Corporation so she has managed to compile the documented interviews in an interesting way”.

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