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Till we meet, adios!

I NEVER thought I would be writing this so soon.

So soon because it seems like yesterday when I arrived in Lesotho for a project that would quickly become the biggest media institute in the kingdom.

It’s only now that I realise so much has happened that I hardly noticed two years and nine months spiriting away since this great journey started.

At first it was frightening.

Images of rioting masses and burning buildings during the 1998 post-election violence replayed on my mind as an unsmiling middle-aged woman stamped my passport to grant me entry into the country for the first time.

Besides, I also knew well before crossing the border that Lesotho was one of the countries in the world worst afflicted by the HIV and Aids pandemic.

But I didn’t know I would meet people who would want me to apologise for being a foreigner.

One newspaper columnist even went on radio and threatened a bloody jihad against makoerekoere at this institution.

Fortunately, as I was to discover, this country does not have many such xenophobic nincompoops.

Yet I found it quite disturbing that many still think locally, not globally.

That’s Lesotho’s biggest challenge.

One of the weirdest arguments I heard during my time here was: “The Chinese must leave the small businesses to us and run big export companies!”

Who said the small businesses are for Basotho?

Who said Basotho can’t run big companies that can export products to international markets?

Yet that’s exactly what Lesotho needs — not tenderpreneurs and carwash operators all over the show.

Lesotho depends on imports, which amount to about 90 percent of gross domestic product.

Every Mosotho must find it embarrassing that the country has to import even eggs and cabbages.

Don’t we have chickens and gardens here?

Can’t we grow enough food for a population of 1.8 million?

Understandably, the country has limited arable land and few natural resources.

But again, it’s not just water and diamonds that Lesotho can export.

And exporting cheap labour to South African mines is not all that Lesotho can do.

Then there is tourism.

I didn’t know this country was so beautiful.

The scenery is breathtaking.

But who can blame me when even locals don’t know as well.

This country has so much virgin potential.

But it can only be realised when we all realise that we have been content with poverty, mediocrity and sub-standards for too long.

The next time I return home — to Lesotho of course — I hope some MPs will no longer be sleeping in parliament but working hard to map the way out of poverty for Lesotho.

I hope too men, women, boys and girls would have realised their cavalier attitude is to blame for the spread of HIV and Aids which continues to wreak havoc in this kingdom.

Then, I pray many would have realised the media is not a sanctuary for failed lawyers, mechanics and other dunderheads.

Yet I leave this beautiful country with very fond memories.

Thanks to everyone who made my stay here quite an experience, especially the readers and my colleagues at this paper.



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