MASERU — The Morija Arts and Cultural Festival burst into life on Thursday with scores of primary school children taking part in traditional games.
The children also exhibited arts and crafts and engaged in youth games such as pony trekking and hiking.
On Friday, Her Majesty Queen ’Masenate Mohato Seeiso officially opened the festival which was also attended by several government ministers and other dignitaries.
They were treated to more traditional dances by high school students.
The Morija festival is being celebrated under the theme: Kaofela re chabana sa khomo: Unity in Diversity.
Her Majesty Queen ’Masenate Mohato Seeiso welcomed guests and thanked the public and the organisers for making the festival successful over the past 13 years.
“The biggest explanation behind the festival’s success is the dedication and determination of the organising team which rolls out life-changing activities to the public as an encouragement for their participation,” she said.
She said the festival has been a key mechanism to preserving Basotho history and heritage.
“Among other activities within the festival are the famous story-telling and theatre activities which have been over taken by technology but thanks to Morija Arts and Cultural Festival our children still get to enjoy the joys we also enjoyed but in a different offering.”
Telecommunications giant Econet Telecom Lesotho sponsored this year’s event to the tune of M1 million.
The queen thanked Econet Telecom Lesotho for its support towards sponsoring the festival since 2008.
“The global financial meltdown has hit Lesotho and we are well aware of it but through all that Econet has been very kind to stand by the festival and for that we are thankful,” she said.
An official from Econet Telecom Lesotho, Mpine Tente, said organisers should work to improve facilities in Morija to enable the festival to attract more sponsors.
“Of all the years we have supported the festival, this year was the loneliest journey because our partners pulled out,” Tente said.
“The sponsorship shrink started last year but this year it worsened. The organising team should work towards improving the festival to a self-sustainable brand which will not only attract support from Lesotho but from Africa.”
Tente thanked all the other companies that had been supporting the festival since 2008.
She said the festival is not just about promoting culture.
“This is Lesotho’s premier cultural event which serves as a showcase for arts, culture and talent. It is also a platform to expose other African cultural groups,” she said.
“The festival is also a platform for small businesses which get a chance to sell themselves and their services to the public.”
Among the important guests at the official opening was South African jazz icon Hugh Masekela who was also billed to perform at the jazz concert.
The songster advised the organising team and Basotho at large to work together in strengthening the festival for its long-term sustainability.
Later on Friday night, South African house group Liquideep teamed up with local artistes, Mthibo, Stlofa, Dunamis, DJ Tseko, Mekonko, Max Mora, Dallas T and Damario at the amphitheatre for the music mix.
Among the activities that were scheduled for yesterday were the film festival, the moraba-raba competition, wire-car competition and the variety show which included poetry, drama, story-telling, and other traditional activities.
The festival ends today.