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Thato Chobokoane (Lesotho)

From Ireland to Lesotho During a Pandemic

As my flight did a descent into the Mountain Kingdom, I was quickly disillusioned by how missing home had caused me to romanticize the place. I dreamt of the dreamy lush, green valleys I would be coming home to. I dreamt of the waterfalls and lakes and saw so vividly the herd boys chasing fattened cows and their calves across open fields. My people are known for being people of peace and I had imagined our women with bright eyes and wide smiles, walking from village to village with babies strapped to their backs and firewood on their heads, despite that being the stark mark of underdevelopment which did not match my romantic notions of my homeland. In reality, red dust blew atop newly erected corrugated iron make-shift supermarkets and take-away restaurants, carrying with it discarded plastic and paper. Empty glass bottles littered the sides of the roads like sad little children waiting for neglectful parents that would never come.

Ireland had furnished my mind with an education and my body found comfort in their lands at the start of a global pandemic. I appreciated fully the comforts of the first world which social media made me starkly aware that my fellow Africans in Africa were not enjoying. Public transport in Ireland allowed for social distancing, shops were controlled, personal protective equipment was easily accessible and most importantly, information on the Coronavirus and testing was widely available so the public acted accordingly to protect themselves and their communities.  

As the world grew into a bigger crisis and the ripples of trauma from Wuhan to Ireland, to the world, to Africa as well as my homeland surged seemingly unabated, my soul grew restless. This was not made any easier by reports of police and military brutality against the public who congregated despite the national lockdown imposed by country’s government. Hardship is so easily forgotten and while in my first world cocoon, I could not reconcile how any government would let the battering of its people come to pass; an understanding lost to me for it conflicted with my romantic notions of my homeland – the nation of peace. If I had been true to myself, I would have remembered that my government, led by mediocrity, would not disseminate enough information on Coronavirus to make available to the public. On the throat of our nation, the firm grip of alcoholism reared its ugly head to be greeted by a nationwide alcohol ban. 

Now I am back home, post disillusionment, post reverse culture shock, unemployed and in an economic crisis and on the face of it, the story of the world fails to be hinged on hope. The story of this Kingdom has shattered my rose tinted glasses. It is a friend from high school, the parent of friend, a neighbour, a relative or someone I never knew, all gone under the new administration of Coronavirus; the dictator which punishes disobedience with death. Graveyards are still not at capacity and graves still have not lined up the roadsides as promised by Lesotho’s government in April of 2020. Perhaps that is our hope although reports state that mortuaries are currently overflowing. As I click through social media pages and note the crowds that come together to celebrate life in confined spaces; friends sharing drinks, hugs and kisses, I see all hope fade. Their music, joy and laughter is drowned by the current news headlines of a second wave of the Coronavirus and the spreading of a new virus with a mutation. The only certainty is that this too shall pass and that is what gives me hope.

7 replies on “Thato Chobokoane (Lesotho)”

Your introduction reminds me of the beauty of our homeland. I too indeed hope it will come to pass. The corona virus has changed life as we know it. A new dawn is upon us. I pray and hope we survive to tell the tales of this pandemic.

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You relate the tale so beautifully. I know what you mean when you talk of missing home when you are far then you start romanticizing it as if things are perfect😂. My interest lies on how you are adjusting to being back home and the reverse culture shock. Would love to know more about your journey with Covid and being away from home. Thanks for a beautiful write up

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I love your style of writing! Not so sure if this too shall pass, rather that this has become the status quo. What is Lesotho’s plan for vaccinations? How will they fund them? How many will have died before this passes? Only questions, no answers. Sigh*

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Beautifully written – I definitely share your frustrations and how conflicted you must feel having witnessed a nation, in a short space of time, exercise adequate patriotism to tackle this pandemic and then come back, to the place you love and cherish as your home and witness the lack of preparation when there was time, unfold. I would’ve liked to read your opinion on the future of our already crippled education system, as a former scholar yourself, both locally and now internationally, should this pandemic persist

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Beautifully written Thato, your poetic flow of the pen is amazing. It’s unfortunate that our African Leaders are forever not prepared for any crisis. Even if they would be told 2 years in advance that a global crisis will emerge, the poor planning and lack of political will leaves us in the same circle. I would like to hear more about how you’re adjusting into everything. Did you try searching for opportunities in Ireland prior your return or you just wanted to come back home and build from there.

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Hey Rodney,
I was always conflicted. At the heart of everything is an overwhelming desire to serve; come home to make significant changes in the society I come from. But in the world we live in, in the throws of capitalism, it’s easy to want to cast aside the road less traveled; stay in a developed country and settle into jobs that pay adequately, streets that are safe and security forces that respond effectively. But it gets lonely and as cliché as it may seem, home is where the heart is: here in Lesotho I matter, my contribution matters and the legacy of my name will matter. Perhaps that is my end goal for the mission that is my life, to have a legacy that matters.

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