Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Begin: the month of Pulungoane -

Abuti in the Mountain Kingdom

Mountaintop wild Gazanias

Hello Dear Readers,

As always, we hope you are reading this post in good health, with central heating and hot running water.

I've lately been reading a couple blog posts from other PCVs, and they strike me as so much more poetic than the tone that I've become accustomed to. I thought I'd take the opportunity to at least provide a link to a post written by another volunteer here in Lesotho that was recently published in our volunteer newsletter it is actually a blog kept up by a volunteer who used to be a journalist - so you know its got to be good! If you have the time to check out other posts, she actually does an excellent job at capturing a lot of the little things about PC that make it the way it is... and she likes to cook, so that is good by me. This story is one she did about circumcision, a big issue here.

Maybe you are wondering about the title... I recently had a Sesotho lesson with Sister Magdalena where I finally learned the names of the months in Sesotho. Usually when you learn a new language, you begin with days of the week and the months and numbers etc... but, probably for this same reason, most people here use the English names for things now. Up until now, I've not learned them, because I've been "saving my brain space" for words that I really need to use often in Sesotho - like the word for aphid (hoaba).

We did this Sesotho lesson mostly because once I started really hearing the names, why and the traditions behind the months, I couldn't stop listening to her ... they were very interesting and I'll take this opportunity to share with you because it says a lot about the traditional culture and values:

First of all the year begins with spring (selemo which also means year) -

Phato (August): for mophato which is the house used for the boys when they go to initiation school, because this is the time for circumcision at the initiation school

Loetse (September): Is when the boys go to look after the animals at the cattle camps (refer to June and July)

Mphalane (October): The boys smear their bodies with red clay, wear beads and they whistle at the initiation schools

Pulungoane (November): The Pulu is a wild animal (which is of course no longer here, because there are no wild animals left in Lesotho) that used to have their babies during this time (ngoana means baby in Sesotho)

Tsitoe (December): Is named for the insect that makes this sound during this month

Perekhong (January): She had forgotten what this month stands for (she is 70 something after all...)

Hlakola (February): Hlakola in Sesotho is the verb for "to wipe" and this is the time that the pollen from the sorghum comes off of the leaves and it looks like they have been wiped clean

Thlakubele (March): Is the month that the sorghum (mabele) begins to form grain

Mesa (April): The word is taken from the Sesotho word besa which means to roast or start a fire, because this is the month where people roast the field corn in the fire

Motshanong (May): This is the month where they say "the sorghum is laughing at the birds" (nonyana is the word for bird, hence the non at the end of the name) this is because the grain has finally gotten so hard that the birds can no longer eat it

Phutjoane and Phupu (June and July): Are the begining of winter when it is said that the men must go to the cattle posts in the mountains to take care of the animals because it is too harsh for the boys...

I wish I could say some of those names for you because they contain a lot of the unique (hard) sounds of Sesotho, but I was really fascinated by the association with the month, hopefully you all enjoy.

Otherwise, I'll limit our newsy tidbits, but I took a bunch of photos yesterday when I went with some other NGO and government partners to a community event. The objective was to talk to women about nutrition for their under 5 year old children, the rights of women and children and HIV/AIDS. We also took the measurements of the children and gave them deworming and vitamin A tablets.

The regional cheif (standing and wearing the traditional Seshoeshoe ) and welcoming the presenters (sitting in chairs) and the community, the really nice building is the Community Council building and it was built with German development funds

I really like this woman with her traditional blanket on her head to protect from the sun, the other traditional blanket for women around her waist, the bottle of traditional sour sorghum porridge (motoho) next to her and her child playing.
This was the woman talking about women's and children's rights


A father with his daughter (who just took a deworming tablet)
As you can see from the photos- it was actually sunny yesterday! So, it seems that summer has officially arrived. We are enjoying the longer days, the fresh peas and greens, and not having to go to bed at 7pm because it is so cold in our house we can't stand it any more! People are already starting to talk about peaches and the frogs have been croaking loudly throughout the nights. We've both been really busy lately, so, by the time we get home from working and walking around so much, we are exhausted and we guiltily confess that we've been watching TV (on our computer) rather than reading. We've just finished both Band of Brothers and The Pacific miniseries! This weekend we made hamburgers with fries, cinnamon rolls, empanadas with refried bean paste from U.S. and cheese slices (don't judge us! There is no free-range, organic Havarti... here!), chocolate-peanut butter cake, rhubarb scones and fennel-herb bread. So, at least we are continuing to eat relatively well, but we are really wishing our garden would grow a little faster so we can enjoy some fresh veggies:-)

I'll wrap it up with that and wish you all a happy election day, at the very least from what we hear, it will be a relief for the campaigning to stop!

All our best from Lesotho,

Carol and Shane

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