A cry for peace in the Kingdom of Lesotho
King Solomon gained renown for being exceedingly wise by rendering insightful decisions (1Kings 3:16-28), a reputation that attracted all the kings of the earth to his courts (1 King 4:34). In addition, he composed songs of proverbs, an activity befitting only the ablest of sages. The moral odyssey is to chronicle King Solomon’s life, not necessarily to learn from his experiences, but from the principles he drew as a result. The very principles that I believe any prudent person who subscribes to the biblical teachings would subject themselves to, more so when you have been charged with the responsibility of been in the position of influence to the general public.
To many of us who were born in the Kingdom of Lesotho, the events of Saturday 30th August 2014 where the Lesotho Defence Force took control of the main police stations in capital city Maseru leaves us with a lot of pain. It pains us no end that our leaders, both in politics and in the security agencies do not learn. Lesotho will soon be celebrating 48 years of independence (4th October) but our leaders are still trapped into partisan politics and taking very little regard to the interests of the nation, it pains us to no end that over these 48 years, our leaders are still in conflict with one another and more often than not, their efforts to survive (especially the security agencies) involve the killing of so many of them (riots of 1998 have reference).
I would like it to be clear that this article is not an attempt to blame anyone. Blame serves only to keep hostilities going. Each side is doing what it deems necessary for its own survival. Neither realises how its actions may be counterproductive. I am addressing my fellow political leaders and leaders of the security agencies, not because I say everything rests on any others fault but because it would be presumptuous for me to suggest to the other side what it should do. I also believe that when one side of an equation changes, the other side must change as well. I can only ask of each side to be the ones who initiate change. This is not about blaming our leaders but about getting us to take responsibility for achieving peace.
Our history as the nation, dating back from the times of our founder, “the prince of peace” (King Moshoeshoe I), informs us that we are a nation of peace and consequently our purpose in the world is to serve as a “light unto the nations.” This means that we are to teach the rest of the SADC, the African continent and world the right way to live. The only way to teach this effectively is through example. Since the eyes of the whole world are so intensely focused on Lesotho, what we do is critical. We can be showing the world the right way or the wrong way to live.
Basotho nation is widely known as a “nation of peace.” The great irony is that if the entire nation were to reflect what is going on between the “coalition partners” in our government (ABC, LCD and the BNP), the former ruling party (DC) and the security agencies (LDF and LMPS), there would be a perpetual War. We can hardly say that we have succeeded in our ultimate mission to be a nation of peace in recent years, and as a result, are causing tremendous emotional hurt and suffering, especially to ordinary citizens. While some people may be able to morally justify military actions over the weekend of the 30th August 2014, it does not undo the fact that killings and attempted killings were made, emotional harm was caused to ordinary citizens, many more than the harm caused to our leaders, and that is what people see. Thus, we have become a light that much of the world would like to see extinguished.
It was not supposed to be this way. It was not the vision of our founders, many who sweat even their blood to safeguard the interest of this nation. We were supposed to be an example of morality for the rest of the world. The Kingdom of Lesotho as it is has over 90% of its overall population as Basotho, the rightful owners of that land. That in a practical sense, says we are one family and as thus, politics should not divide our union, battles in the agencies of security should not impact on the lives of innocent people. What we ask our leaders to do is to live by our moral principles and respect the rule of law, to actualise our vision as a nation of peace.
Furthermore, as a whole, since as a nation we subscribe to the Western culture of politics, an LCD, BNP, DC, ABC leader remains Mosotho, a commander of the LDF, a commissioner of the LMPS or any other leader of the Defence commission remains Mosotho. We have no business treating them like enemies and as second- and third-class citizens. We are very different today from when we were colonised 48 years ago. We are on the driving seat of our own destiny as a nation; we have no reason to act like oppressed people.
Sadly, we have become the authors of our own misfortunes; we have changed genetically and culturally. Conflict or a difference in opinions is common in every part of the world, leaders ought to treat each other with mutual respect, they need to approach each other with humility and gratitude, and with a principle to create a society that lives in peace, the peace that will benefit not only Basotho but countries of our region as well. Our leaders cannot and should not be embroiled in violent warfare against one another, it is enough.
If we wish to prevent perpetual and escalating warfare, it is absolutely essential that we rethink our current ways and figure out how to live in peace with each other. Many knowledgeable political analysts think it is possible that the army (Lesotho Defence Force) is doomed to live in a constant state of war based on the changes in command. Considering history, as well as the difficulty we know the LDF has in dealing with fellow citizens, this is not an unreasonable conclusion. Nevertheless, I believe peace is possible.
It is often said, “There are no easy solutions.” This is not true. It is not solutions that are difficult. It is problems that are difficult. When we have an ongoing problem, we are working very hard to solve it and whatever we are doing is not working. Usually when we come up with a solution that works, it tends to be something very simple. Everyone longs for peace (so I believe), but neither side realises that the things they are doing in the attempt to create peace are making the state of war continue and escalate.
For the past weeks, political parties involved in the impasse and the security agencies have been sending intelligent and eloquent spokespeople defending their side and blaming the other in the hope that the truth will emerge and bring peace. Neither side realises that the very acts of defending and blaming are acts of hostility. They are an integral part of the problem, not of the solution. The more passionately people defend themselves and blame the other, the more passionately others defend themselves and blame the next. And in the process they all convince themselves that they are right and the others are wrong. As a result animosity flourishes.
There is only one way to live in peace in Lesotho, for our leaders to deal with their egos and put the Basotho’s interest first and of necessity, to respect the rule of law. And that involves treating people like friends even when they treat us like enemies. But this is contrary to our nature. We are biologically programmed for reciprocity, to treat others the way they treat us. That is why when people are nice to us, we feel like being nice back, and when people are mean to us, we feel like being mean back. While most people can recite a version of the by this principle, they don't generally live by it. They do what comes naturally to them, which is reciprocity. And that is what happens in every ongoing conflict. One side is mean to the other, and the other side responds by being mean. They expect that by responding with meanness, they will end the conflict. They enter into a perpetual cycle of meanness, each certain that the other one started.
It is easy to treat people like friends when they treat us like friends. The challenge is to treat people like friends when they treat us like enemies. However, few people understand what it means to treat people like friends because no one teaches us what it really involves. There are many ways by which we treat people like enemies and we are not aware of it. Therefore even if we would want to treat our enemies like friends, we are not likely to know how to do it.
Scientists solve problems by understanding and applying the laws of nature. They do not invent those laws. They only reveal them through means such as observation, introspection, logical thinking and testing. Peace, too, can only be created by revealing and applying the relevant scientific laws, laws that are derived from understanding human psychology.
Other people throughout history, as well as modern-day figures like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Nelson Mandela, intuitively knew how to create peace. They all followed the same basic rules. I am not sure these people could consciously tell us the specific scientific/psychological rules they followed, just as all of us function by the rules of nature without necessarily being aware of them. But it would serve us well to carefully examine the thoughts, actions and teachings of these moral experts. Our leaders need to deduce their rules for peace so that we can all apply them.
Reverend Rick Warren, one of the best-selling non-fiction books in history, Snippets of rules for peace can be found throughout wisdom writings. “Granted, wars are more complex than individual relations, but the same general rules for treating people like friends must also apply. To establish peace it is not enough to organize demonstrations condemning violence and to sing Kumbaya at campfires. We need to use our brains to figure out the set of rules for creating peace on an international level”.
It is too easy to give in to our passions and engage in war against those who treat us like enemies. War is the most expensive, tragic and counterproductive approach to creating friendships. Peace is simpler and cheaper, and creates wellbeing rather than heartrending pain.
The focus of the world is now glued to us, a very tiny landlocked mountain kingdom. Our actions have the power to change the world. When we prove that we can leave in peace with one another, we will fulfil our moral principles imbedded on us as a nation. KAOFELA RE SECHABANA SA KHOMO, MOLIMO A BOLOKE LESOTHO LE BASOTHO!!!
By Rethabile P Matlatsa
(Emeritus president of the ASF)
An'soc UKZN Howard campus receives a chaplain
ANSOC UKZN HOWARD COLLEGE CAMPUS,the BEC welcomed the new chaplain Reverend Isaias Chachine from St John the divine,we bless and thank the Lord for giving us Reverend Isaias to minister to An'soc UKZN,the man who believes that the future of the church is in the youth
STRIKE ENDS AT MEDUNSA
Pretoria, 12 August 2014. Our prayers and compassion go out to students at the University of Limpopo, Medunsa campus, as lectures are expected to resume this week, ending a two-week strike at the medical campus.
The university administration informed students via text messages on Monday that lectures will re-start on Wednesday 14 August, following an agreement reached between management and the student representatives. Included in the agreement was an official announcement by the President of the SRC, indicating that students would cease all protests and vandalism. This is yet to be released.
Since the beginning of the protest action, many innocent students have been forced to vacate the university residences; as a result their academics have been adversely affected. “We live in a society where education is the most valuable resource, augmenting our understanding of the world around us. It also serves as a building block of the Anglican Students Federation. Therefore, we encourage members to pray for tolerance, liberality and understanding among all parties involved in the strike", says Gauteng-Mpumalanga chairperson Ngata Holele.
The region also appeals to members in the province to continue to pray for peace at Medunsa. As students in the Anglican Church, we are advocated to be at the forefront of transformation in our communities through Christian values, ethics and lifestyles.
Throughout the week, all Ansocs in Gauteng-Mpumalanga will have special prayer segments for Medunsa during their Bible study sessions and more activity will continue collectively on social media.
54TH PROVINCIAL CONFERENCE 2014
We thank God for the ASF 54TH Provincial Conference which took place in Gauteng-Mpumalanga Region!!!