We all know the many complaints that different interest groups have had about the current coalition government led by ABC’s Tom Thabane from the Teachers, Wool and Mohair Farmers, the youth and not forgetting Textile Factory Workers, Nurses, the Police, NSS and the marches by the Military for peace. The messages were very clear about what each group wanted and the protests, much like in any other nation, were an attempt to call onto the Executive to hear the grievances of the nation from many different sectors. In as much as these protests were happening while the National Dialogue on Reforms in Lesotho was in session across the country, it was as equally important to take note of what Basotho want in their respective occupations and communities. The focus of this article however is not on the above protests and the tenacity of those groups to challenge the government however empowering. WHO remembers the students during the Teacher’s strike? The ones most affected by the closure of schools while teacher’s demanded their overdue salaries from the government? The children of the Police officers, NSS< Military, Wool and Mohair Farmers, Textile factory workers and Nurses? While trying to find the best analogy to describe the situation of the students, it’s pretty much like when two parents fight but forget that ultimately how they decide to resolve their difference has the biggest impact on their kids, their collective responsibility.
What do students do when schools shut down unexpectedly?
While walking along Kingsway Road Maseru, one could not help but notice high school students in their Blue or Green Tunics and others in their white shirts, neatly dressed ties, grey skirts or trousers, the people often referred to as the future still carrying their backpacks loaded with book son algebra, global warming, business and maybe economics. I wondered, what would I do if I were them? If I had 3 weeks of nothing to do because school’s were abruptly closed, what would I do in those 3 weeks? It then occurred to me that dressing up each and every day in uniform to go somewhere, anywhere, a library, a park to go and read with your peers was in its own right the biggest protest. In essence what the students were saying is that, “We will not be deterred from acquiring knowledge that will better our lives on the basis of adult’s disagreements.” This was low key the biggest flex that not many of us cared to acknowledge.
Lesotho, according to publications by UNESCO, “has an adult literacy rate of 76.64%. Only in a few countries female literacy rates are above male literacy rates. In Lesotho, 84.93% of all women aged 15 years and older are literate, compared to 67.75% of men.” When Miss Universe 2019 from South Africa, Zozibini said, “Take up space” with reference to Black woman, I felt it. I remembered how loud some of the students would be either at the State Library or at Moshoeshoe Park, literally the only few spaces that students can occupy in the small city of Maseru. They did not have to tell anyone about their hunger for education and success, we saw it as everyday during the closure, they joyfully carried on with their lives with the load of books in their backpacks, reading and discussing equations so they could be ready for their exams. The actions of the government affect regular citizens even if they do not care to acknowledge it. It is an unfortunate truth but it is truth nonetheless.
Young people are hopeful about the opportunities they are enabled to tap into if they put in the work. They have demonstrated time and again that they have no issue putting in the work and doing their part because each day they showed up in numbers and from different schools and villages. Will the elderly hear this time, that the future is knocking and asking that our leaders be accountable with the great responsibilities they have undertaken when they took oaths to be in office or will the silence to the many pleas of Basotho lead to more and more harsh approaches in the cry for the protection of basic human and economic rights? In the next 10 years, what will history say about the conduct of those who hold the keys to the nation?