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Play depicts Basotho morals

Billy Ntaote


MASERU — Molutsoane, a play written by Sekhohola Motebang, has been characterised as a dramatic representation of the morals of Basotho which continue to be  part of the Basotho culture today.

The play was recently launched by Motebang, together with the Transformation Resource Centre (TRC) at TRC premises.

Motebang says the drama is a consciousness raising and work of art that took him years to put together while working as a teacher at Mazenod High School teaching literature in English.

He began writing the play in 1995 but was only able to publish the book this year.

“The play explores literary representation and dramatic interpretation of life happenings and values of my people (Basotho).

“It is an attempt to explore poetry through dramatisation. I’m actually transmitting our rich heritage of humanity to international readers,” he said.

Speaking about the protagonist in the play, Motebang said “Katjepe” commits a taboo by killing a monkey and following the incident Katjepe is arrested and tried for committing an abomination.

Motebang says the chief, who in Basotho culture holds the authority to pass sentencing in a trial, ends up acquitting the accused on the grounds that despite the monkey being perceived as a reflection of a human being it would be inhuman to take someone’s life as punishment.

He said despite Katjepe having offended society, the justice system spares his life.

Motebang said Molutsoane is actually a prayer and worship for peace, rain and prosperity that Basotho men used to conduct whenever they needed rain or when they pray for abundance.

“The act, by Katjepe during the worship is taboo and the people felt he needed to be punished heavily for his actions but the chief in the play sets a new precedence and spares Katjepe’s life and shows humanity of the Basotho people,” said Motebang.

Quoting French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau, Motebang said although Katjepe in the Molutsoane play had offended the very people who raised him, no man is born a criminal.

“The killing of a monkey to our people has always been seen as a taboo due to beliefs held by our people about monkeys but when he followed Katjepe’s sacrilegious actions the chief decided it was better to sacrifice an animal than take a man’s life,” he said.

He said the first part of the book depicts Basotho people suffering a drought and part two shows the scenes where Katjepe kills a monkey during a time of the Molutsoane prayer while the third part shows the chief presiding over the taboo case and in the end justice prevails.

He said the play illustrates one of the deeper meanings of Basotho’s traditional prayer for rain, peace and prosperity and the humanism. It also demonstrates that western cultures failed to appreciate Basotho prayers.

Meanwhile the play’s reviewer Patrick Bereng said the play was  great from a prolific story teller.

“The book has a poetic touch and the words are unforced and they flow like water that springs from a powerful and resourceful fountain. I see a rivulet going smoothly and it flows into a larger river that goes into the largest river that goes into the sea. Here the sea is an assembly of all that we have as the Basotho people.” he said.

“When writing this, the author explains the goodness of man. And the goodness of man is the reason for writing this play,” he said.

Bereng said the play shows the relevance of King Letsie III’s plea for Basotho to pray for rain whenever there is no rain.

The play was written in English as a way of sharing the Basotho culture and rich history of humanity with people beyond Lesotho’s borders, he noted.

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