Someone once told me that once you’ve heard someone’s story then you become part of it. Once you’re part of someone’s story, you cannot go to war with him or her. This past week brought with it the emersion of a few people’s stories. The stories of people, the stories of African land.
My story starts with a Lesotho trip, with Kenya to follow…
A few friends and I decided to take a road trip to Lesotho last weekend. Less than 1 hour out of Jozi and we knew that we were in for something special. Being the only South African (1 out of 4: German, Jamaican/American and Hollander)), I am accustomed to the landscape, but still; getting out of the city smog is always refreshing. I sat in the back seat adamant that I would complete and send off a proposal before submitting to bliss. As we hit the Drakensburg Mountains, we kept circling a cloud that put on a dance show of thunderstorms contained in it. None of us had ever seen this before and were overwhelmed at just how spectacular it is.
Our weekend going across country was made up of stargazing below the clear Milky Way, for the first time I saw fireflies and excited that some stories introduced to me in fairytales come from the ‘real world’. We took an early morning dip in a river braving a cold waterfall; went hiking and horse-riding. On our horse-riding expedition in St. James, Elias, our guide took us to a local village where we were greeted with the local bitter beer, homemade traditional instruments, and song and dance. Making our way back to South Africa on the Sani Pass route definitely kept Alexander my co-driver and I on our wits end. It was quite scary driving through clouds, not being able to see our steep descend ahead while attempting to avoid potholes and rocks.
With this being my second trip to Lesotho, I am once again taken back by the sense of nothingness in the place. To elaborate on this; the place is breathtaking in terms of natural beauty and tradition is not historical but a way of life; quite rare in my Jozi existence, but there is not much to support the local economy. To put facts in perspective: Lesotho has a population of 2.1mil people and an urban population of 26%. Their main export product is textiles. With cheap Chinese alternatives there is however a reduction in demand that sees this industry being wiped out in both South Africa and Lesotho. At R450 (approx. $60) I was disappointed to see how expensive traditional blankets are, with several carrying a ‘made in South Africa’ tag.