Notes on Basotho culture for hikers and travellers

13 May 2016 05:51 #68427 by Philip

Ha Ha - the Lesotho 'mountain cellphone'!

What you describe sounds excellent in my opinion. Announcing your presence openly indicates to them that you have nothing to hide, have no criminal intent (after all why are you there?!) and gives them time to keep their dogs under control.

The opposite scenario would involve coming around a 'corner' and stumbling on a Motibo (shepherds house) compete with guard dogs...!

Thank you for your input

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13 May 2016 17:33 #68434 by Philip
There are two words in Sesotho that I can almost guarantee just about everyone knows;

hakuna matata - no problem! (the k of hakuna is pronounced a little more gutteraly than in Swahili - or in the 'Lion King' movie - but there is no need to worry about the finer points of pronunciation at first - you will be understood!).

It will normally raise a laugh if you come out with this at some point while in Lesotho :-)
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15 May 2016 08:43 #68440 by newton
Very helpfull topic/discussion. Thanks. I think mutual respect is a concept that is becoming rare in our modern society.
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16 May 2016 14:22 - 16 May 2016 14:41 #68470 by Christeen Grant
As a female Tour Guide and Mountain hiking guide, often on my own with a single female client, I have had no problems interacting with Basotho shepherds. With my clients safety foremost in my mind I'm aware that people are people and it is possible to meet up with an unfriendly person.

However what has been said before in this thread, respect the people you meet, in Lesotho we are in their country. Greet the shepherds in an open and friendly way, preferably in Sesotho, and if hiking, I always greet someone approaching when they are some distance away, so they know I have seen and acknowledged them. Followed by a triple handshake when we have come close.

Many times I've been warned of 'bad' dogs in a motibo, shepherds house, on our path, and advised to keep clear of it.

Usually the shepherds are curious; "where are we going", "we have we come from" and often ask us to take photographs. I'm sure this interaction relieves the monotony of days out on the mountain looking after animals.

Some of these interactions have been a highlight for clients during their hikes. Everyone comes away happy and smiling, with great memories and photos.

On some hikes, where a Mosotho guide has also been present, and we've camped in the vicinity of a motibo, we have been made very welcome and sometimes been treated to spontaneous entertainment, song and dance.

For me the Basotho people are some of the most friendly, outgoing and genuinely welcoming of tourists, that I have met. Yes, there have been a few instances where after a cursory greeting, the shepherds carry on their way without further conversation; and yes, there have been a few that I have greeted and felt better to keep the interaction friendly, but brief before moving on. That happens wherever one goes and not only in Lesotho.

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Last edit: 16 May 2016 14:41 by Christeen Grant.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Serious tribe, Sabine, Philip, AdrianT, Richard Hunt, supertramp, saros, Redshift3, Biomech, myriam, mafu

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16 May 2016 16:12 #68472 by mafu
Thank you Christeen

I am glad to see a woman writing on here, and wanted to suggest that some women share their point of view on this subject, and solutions for the amphitheater! :) so if there are any other female hikers who can share some feedback on their experiences, feelings in the mountains, it would be great to see your views! :)

The basotho telephone, greeting from distance is a very good way to show presence, acceptance, and see each other, and happens both from locals and hikers starting these conversations! In remote mountains, small villages, etc etc, all over the world, it is seen as impolite and suspicious, to pass without greeting, or noticing the other party! :)

Enjoy this thread and look forward to more points of view! :)
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