Notes on Basotho culture for hikers and travellers

18 Mar 2015 15:35 #63086 by ghaznavid
Poa kichizi kama ndizi!

Woops, wrong languange...

Getting to the top is nothing, the way you do it is everything – Royal Robins

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31 Jan 2016 15:16 #66761 by Jan
Hi,
-Last year, doin a part of the DGT, we came across quite a few basotho. We found them friendly, and smiling, even though communication was quite hard. We really liked the encounters with these tough guys. However, surfing the forum I have the impression that not everyone is so impressed, or that hikers prefer to avoid them. Isthat for any specific reason ? During a DGT i'm more concerned by their dogs at nigth. Would it be a good/bad/safe/stupid Idea to camp at their kraals ?
-Does one of you have some more info on them ? especially language wise ? Sofar I found this southernsecretshiking.wordpress.com/notes-on-basotho-culture/ most usefull.
-feel free to remove this topic somewhere else.
Regards,Jan
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31 Jan 2016 18:24 - 29 Apr 2016 09:26 #66762 by mayake
Thks for this topic (from my part) Do you know a little of the basic civil words as hello, good bye, thank you, please, ?..
For exemple I have read in one of the thread here the words "Sawubona" (?) and "Dumela" or "Dumelang" (Hello ?)
Last edit: 29 Apr 2016 09:26 by mayake.

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31 Jan 2016 18:55 #66764 by Smurfatefrog
Sawubona is Zulu for hello

There is a lot of useful info in this thread.

Some of the words/phrases I've found important

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28 Apr 2016 13:53 #68068 by supertramp
Just bumping up this thread again. A lot of these rules I firmly believe still stands.
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29 Apr 2016 08:33 #68100 by AdrianT
Excellent thread, thank you. Understanding is always better than our typical judgemental ways. I certainly learnt many things reading this.
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11 May 2016 20:15 #68406 by Philip
I have recently been posting some of my ideas on 'Solutions for the Amphitheatre' and at the same time have come up with the following. These Do's and Don'ts should be read in conjunction with my 'Notes on Basotho Culture' I hope they will be useful. If anyone has any more contributions I would be grateful to hear them. I may add to and edit them myself going forward.

Do’s and Don’ts when meeting shepherds (herders) while hiking in the high Maluti Mountains – (including along the top of the Drakensberg).

Do
• Remember you are in their space – they are not in yours.
• Remember no one has forced you to hike in Lesotho or enter Lesotho – it is a choice YOU have made.
• Look as though you are pleased to see them and make their acquaintance in much the same way as you would when meeting another hiking group!
• Shake hands with them in the traditional African way (3 way) supporting your right elbow with your left hand. “Khotso, Pula, Nala”.
• Greet them in Sesotho (if possible) – Lumela (pronounced Dumela) – Abuti (brother) or Ntate (Father) or Ausi (sister) or Me (mother). If you know no Sesotho a friendly ‘HELLO’ ‘HI’ or ‘KHOTSO’ (peace) is OK. (English is an official language in Lesotho so most shepherds will speak some, depending on their education level.)
• SMILE at them!
• Ask their names – give them your names.
• Ask where their Motibo (shepherd’s house) is.
• Ask for the name of their home village and in what part of Lesotho it is situated
• Ask about their families – show a genuine interest in them (they are mostly homesick young boys!)
• Take photos of them and with them – and show them the pictures of themselves on your camera’s screen. This normally results in great interactions!
• Ask them to remove their balaclavas for the photos – this tells them that you are interested in them as INDIVIDUAL PEOPLE – not just as faceless figures in your pictures.
• Give them ‘something’ in exchange for photographs – but only if the interaction is friendly – otherwise put your camera away.
• If you give them ‘something’ always hand it to them with your RIGHT hand supporting your right elbow with your left hand.
• Remember they ask (or get pushy) for handouts (sweets etc) because other thoughtless people before you have given them handouts.
• Bear in mind that today’s cute child that you hand something to for no reason becomes tomorrows demanding adult.
• Allow time for these types of interactions – we live in Africa – in traditional African culture people have time for each other.

Don’t
• Ignore them.
• Walk away turning your back towards them.
• Try to outwalk them if they are trying to catch up to you to speak and interact with you.
• Give handouts. Anything you give to them should be part of a FRIENDLY TWO WAY INTERACTION.
• Never give anything to them with your LEFT hand.
• Never throw food or anything else at them. (I have personally witnessed this cringe worthy behaviour from South Africans).
• Give handouts. If you feel you must give something, pretend to take photos of them – delete later if you must.

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11 May 2016 20:35 #68408 by ghaznavid
@Philip: your notes posted earlier on this thread have been a massive help to me. I will add items like asking them to take off their balaclavas to the list.

Getting to the top is nothing, the way you do it is everything – Royal Robins
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12 May 2016 05:32 #68409 by Philip
Oh - And don't toss food to the shepherds' dogs in front of shepherds. (I have seen this too).

Some ideas for what to do if you feel uncomfortably hassled...

Make a joke with them if possible.
Distract their attention with a photo shoot.
Say goodbye respectfully - Sala (or Saleng pl) hantle bo abuti (brothers) and move on.
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12 May 2016 10:59 #68413 by Jan
Question to Phillip:

During our DGT last februar, we quite enjoyed their presence and had some good laughs with them.
We also adopted, what we called, the basotho conversation mode. Meaning making verbal contact as we were approching. Exchanging greetings etc already as we were quite a long way apart. Making our presence clear from a considerable distance, in the open en closer to the kraals. Waiting for them to catch up. (I'm actually quite sure these guys can beat Andrew P's record on a DGT)

Any thoughts on our behaviour from your side ?
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