Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thaba Bosiu with CHED 10

Given that it is the birthplace of Lesotho, I suppose it is not surprising that we returned to Thaba Bosiu. This time, Kathy and I joined the newest batch of volunteers - CHED 10 (Community Health and Economic Development volunteers beginning their service in 2010) - as they toured this historic site.

This time, we had a guide, Ntate Edgar (pronounced "nh-Dah-tay", it literally means father but is used more like "sir" in English - though more frequently than we now use "sir"in America). Not only is he a font of knowledge on Basotho history, but he also runs a program to help out with the education of local orphans, of whom there are many (often AIDS orphans). He and I chatted all the way up the mountainside, and he was just an incredibly nice guy.

The view from the top of Thaba Bosiu was quite grand, and well worth the hike.

The volunteers gathered around Ntate Edgar as he shared with them some of the history of this place, including that the fallen tree next to them was where King Moshoeshoe I used to meet with the equivalent of his "parliament".

From the top of Thaba Bosiu, we could see Qiloane (pronounced "kill-WAH-nay", though the first syllable properly begins with a click rather than a "k" sound). Qiloane is source of the shape of the traditional Basotho hat that is featured prominently on Lesotho's flag.

I was not the only one who thought this view worth a picture:

No, I mean really not the only one:

One of the reasons Moshoeshoe chose this location is that the top is flat and expansive enough for herds to graze and crops to be grown, so even during a siege, he and his people would not starve.

The CHED 10 volunteers are the first group I have gotten to know as they arrive, and I must say, they are a great group!

I particularly enjoyed chatting with a couple of them who had grown up in Michigan, just as I did. I had not thought about many of my memories of that place in years. I quite liked being able to joke about how everyone from the lower peninsula grew up "just outside of Detroit"...

Proof that I am, indeed, a lucky guy:

One of the most significant elements of Thaba Bosiu is that it serves as the royal graveyard.

On the way down, we passed by a a curious child who apparently lives at the foot of Thaba Bosiu.

After we parted ways with the CHED 10 volunteers, we went on a bit of a drive through the countryside, where we saw some Springbok - the first stereotypically African wildlife I had seen up to that point.

Actually, apart from the ostriches in Bloemfontein, these are still the only animals I have seen in Africa that are not birds or lizards. This, I suppose, is one of those lessons I am learning about the real Africa where I live as compared to the stylized Africa I had seen in movies and on television before we moved here. I am not saying there are no giraffes or lions in Africa, rather that Hollywood has only seen fit to find the giraffes and lions worth special attention. The continent is incredibly diverse: tropics and snow-capped mountains; deserts and beaches; cities and wilderness; diamond mines and maize; waterfalls and motorcycle races; deep spirituality and petty crime; and, of course, both ferocious lions and precocious lizards (how that one lizard found its way into our sun room I will never know).

Just think about how much we have seen and shared on this site after visiting so very little of all that there is here in only two countries, Lesotho and South Africa...

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