The video (below) provided perhaps unique insights into daily life in the Kingdom of Lesotho, a small mountain independent nation that is home to some 2.142m people and an enclave within South Africa where more than half of the population (around 51%) live below the national poverty line. The country is in 165th place out of 189 countries and territories in 2019 when ranked in terms of life expectancy, literacy, access to knowledge and the living standards. The situation is actually worse than that as Lesotho is a country in crisis at risk of being wiped out, not by invasion or warfare but by a virus ~ HIV ~ a virus that has swept across the country affecting 25% of the population and half of all women. As one village elder from Nazareth Haphloane commented "At this rate of dying, this village will soon be wiped out ... We are burying a child or adult victim of Aids almost every day." Lesotho has more children who have lost parents to AIDS than any other country on the planet and many of these children are later abandoned on the streets by adults who cannot care for them or simply aren't prepared to share their limited resources with other people's HIV positive children "who are going to die anyway."
Life expectancy in Lesotho is 54.33 years (2019) and, for those few families not affected by the HIV crisis, life remains cruel. About 70-80% of the country's population lives in rural with, overall, more than three quarters engaged in agriculture however only 10% of its land being cultivable and ongoing drought conditions have led the United Nations to report that climate change could shrink this even further to just 3% within twenty five years. Droughts have occurred in Lesotho for decades, however recent droughts have been the worst for over a quarter of a century leaving upwards of a quarter of the population in need of humanitarian aid just to survive.
Such droughts have decimated farm crops and many have abandoned the land, not just because of uncertainty as to whether crops will actually end up growing but also due to a shortage of manpower as AIDS sweeps across the kingdom. This increasing dearth of home grown crops is forcing prices to rise as the population not have to rely on expensive imports with Lesotho currently importing 65% percent of its annual maize needs and 80% of its annual wheat needs. The World Food Program estimates that 30% of the total population is now vulnerable to food insecurity. As such, many go hungry with such prices forcing the provision of food out of their reach; children attend school under nourished and unable to concentrate and are further exhausted on returning from the local walk home from school by replenishing water supplies as part of their household chores. It is estimated that about 40% of children in Lesotho under the age of five are stunted.
Life in Lesotho is about building and maintaining the rural homestead and the perpetuation of traditional Lesotho institutions. Its culture is also heavily influenced by its history of resistance including the 'successful' Gun War, Zulu attacks and Boer transgressions, and the role of the Sotho people in developing South Africa not just as a nation but in educational and religious terms as well. Authors and composers such as Thomas Mofolo (who wrote the popular novel 'Chaka') and Joshua Pulumo Mohapeloa are also celebrated in Lesotho culture. The two most significant dates in Lesotho culture are independence day (4th October) and Moshoeshoe's Day (12th March.) The latter a time for traditional dances, speeches and ceremonies, whilst the former focuses on celebrating children's achievements through sport and singing competitions. Handmade musical instruments such as drums, stringed instruments, whistles and rattles accompany story tellers and dancers who embrace their audience as literature, dance and music fuse during the retelling of ancient folktales.
Life in Lesotho: Volunteer Work in Lesotho
Life in Lesotho: Life for Children in Lesotho
Life in Lesotho: Sponsor a Child in Lesotho
Life in Lesotho: Lesotho Country Profile
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