COMMEMORATING 100 YEARS OF DR. NTSU MOKHEHLE’S BIRTHDAY

COMMEMORATING 100 YEARS OF

DR. NTSU MOKHEHLE’S BIRTHDAY –

A LECTURE BY DR MOTSOKO PHEKO

MASERU LESOTHO

9TH FEBRUARY 2019

Programme Director,

Dr.Mokhehle’s Family, Ladies and Gentlemen. It is a great honour for me to speak to you at this historic occasion. Let me start by saying that:

1. The past must not be changed, distorted and manipulated. It must be accepted only as it unfolded.

2. Knowledge is learning something every day. Wisdom is letting off something every day.

3. If you don’t hold on to your dream, others will hire you to help them hold to their own dream.

4. The hardest rock will yield to those who drill it with determination.

5. When you give a man a fish you are feeding him for a day. When you teach him how to fish, you are feeding him for life.

In 1957 “Nonyana” as Dr.Ntsu Mokhehle was popularly called; invited a Pan Africanist brother of his to come here to address the Basutoland African National Congress, later called Mahata ‘Moho – “ The United Ones” in English. This was BCP (Basutoland Congress Party).

This distinguished friend of Dr. Mokhehle was later to be Dr. Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe. He became a lecturer at Witwatersrand University in South Africa. This was before he was imprisoned in Robben Island, literally for life since the colonialist regime in South Africa banished him to Kimberly, denying him medical attention until he died there without trial in any court.

This speaker had been a fellow student and friend of his at Fort Hare University. He was later imprisoned on Robben Island. He attracted a special law made for him alone. He died under mysterious circumstances and suspicion of being poisoned by the South African apartheid colonialist regime.

On qualities of leadership, Sobukwe has said:

“True leadership demands complete subjugation of self.

 Absolute honesty, integrity and uprightness of character

Courage and fearlessness

And above all a consuming love for one’s people.”

Dr. Ntsu Mokhehle excellently fits the type of leader described here, beyond reasonable doubt. He was born in a comfortable family. His father, Cicero Mokhehle was not only a headman at Teyateyaneng where “Nonyana” was born on 26 December 1918. Dr. Mokhehle’s father was also a teacher of high calibre and class. He became one of the earliest Mosotho school inspectors in Lesotho. His wife was Mrs ‘Maseeng Mokhehle. They raised up young Ntsu Mokhehle together. Dr. Mokhehle’s wife was ‘Maneo Mokhehle, a nurse by profession. They had two daughters Topollo and Mosonngoa and a son named Ts’iliso.

Ntsu Mokhehle himself later had very high education, to give him all the comfort of this life, he might desire. In the old English expression, one can say Ntsu was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He lacked nothing. At Fort Hare University he obtained his Bachelor of Science degree with honours and his Master of Science degree with distinction. He was at this University from 1940 to 1944.He easily got jobs with a high salary than most Africans those days, either here in Lesotho or in South Africa. But here was this young man revealing his leadership “qualities of complete subjugation of self,… courage and fearlessness; and above all a consuming love for one’s people.”

As a result of his love to see the African people liberated from the chains of colonialism he was expelled from Fort Hare University in 1942, but allowed back to complete his studies in September of that year. He was expelled also from the Basutoland High School in 1954 where he was teaching. The British colonial government disapproved of his political thinking for this country and for Africa as a whole.

Indeed, the ultimate measure of a great man or woman is not where he or she stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he or she stands in times of insecurity and danger.

 Besides Lekhotla la Bafo (Peasant Movement) led by Josiel Lefela which he had joined earlier in his life; Dr. Mokhehle was the founder of the first political party in Lesotho, namely, the Basutoland African Congress in 1952 and the Basutoland Congress Party (BCP) in 1959.At one time under difficult conditions he led the BCP from exile for many years.

Yet even after those many years in exile, when he returned home to Lesotho, he made a remarkable and unprecedented history. Mahata-Mmoho – “the United Ones” won all the 65 seats in the 1993 elections, under his leadership. Dr. Mokhehle became Prime Mister of Lesotho from 1993 to 1999. This demonstrates the distinguished type of leader he was as a freedom fighter.

Ntsu Mokhehle was a nation-builder. By the way his first name “Ntsu” means Eagle. He was a lover of education. He knew that without skills a nation can go nowhere. He had a Pan Africanist outlook. He was the first political leader in Southern Africa to meet leaders such President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, President Sekou Toure of Guinea, President Gamal Nasser of Egypt, “Muwalimu” Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and many others. He was the first leader in Southern Africa to attend the All African Peoples’ Conference in Accra in 1958. He was present at the formation of the Organisation of African Unity in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in May 1963.

Indeed, he was the first leader from Southern Africa to address the United Nations on colonial matters affecting Lesotho such as incorporation to apartheid colonial South Africa. Through some such connections his BCP was able to organise scholarships for many Basotho students for professions to come and re-build the broken walls of pre-colonial Lesotho.

His name “Ntsu” – revealed the characteristics of an Eagle. He was brave, tenacious, fearless, visionary and energetic. He had iron determination for genuine liberation of his people. He remained focussed on his vision all the time. His vision was clear.

Eagles are said to fly 37,000 feet high. They are also far-sighted. They do not eat the meat of dead animals. “Ntsu” like an Eagle aimed high. He never compromised with those who offered crumbs in negotiations. Eagles also seem to have the philosophy that “Birds of the same feather flock together.” Did the name “Mahata ‘Moho” come from this?  It looks like “Ntsu” pursued his objectives with this eagle philosophy throughout his life.

When he founded or took part in publications such Makatolle, Mohlabani (Warrior) etc, it was part of a very broad vision to preserve the legacy of King Moshoeshoe 1. He appreciated the political damage colonialists had done to pre-colonial Lesotho. This is the Nation that was founded by that great son of Mokhachane.

That revered Founder of the Basotho Nation known also as:

 Lepoqo                     Dispute         “Born during numerous wars.”

1.Thesele……………….One who pushes his enemies aside

2. Moshoeshoe……….The Shaver, The Great Warrior, He fought fearlessly to keep this land from falling into the hands of the colonial invaders and aggressors.

Tlaputle, Letlama – his initiation names into manhood in 1805. One of them Letlama means the “The Binder.” He was really the Binder and Protector of this Nation. Dr. Mokhehle even as a youth was already contemplating and fascinated with the vision of preserving the legacy of Thesele -King Moshoeshoe I

The British colonial rulers often accused him of being against the Basotho Kingship. Among other things Mokhehle pointed out that the British did not care for Lesotho sovereignty or any –non- European sovereignty.

They had in fact executed two Basotho royalties here Khabasheane and Bereng, despite the Basotho protest and lack of evidence against these royalties. In Botswana, in another British Protectorate in theory; Prince Seretse Khama was refused to return to Botswana after completing his Law studies in England. Why? Because he had fallen in love with an English woman Ruth Williams and wanted to marry her.

Mokhehle was a true patriot. At the age of 23 and from 1941 to 1976, he and Mr. Pakane Khala worked on a book titled, Moshoeshoe I Profile. It traces how King Moshoeshoe I worked so very hard to preserve his pre-colonial Basotho Nation. Dr. Mokhehle edited it, but he has acknowledged that it is his work jointly with Mr. Pakane Khala. Mr. Khala was a BCP radio broadcaster from Egypt.

On King Moshoeshoe I, Dr. Mokhehle and his colleague Pakane Khala have written. “This is one of the few remaining monuments that we may erect in paying our humble respects to old Moshoeshoe, the orator, the peace-maker, the diplomat, the philosopher, the politician, the general, the brave soldier, the mediator, the judge, the legislator, the educator….

Moshoeshoe

[is]

the man who gave us our own land, our own language, our own nationhood, our own customs and traditions; and our own moral values and national temperament.” (Moshoe shoeshoe I Profile – Se-Moshoeshoe page 5 Edited by Ntsu Mokhehle Khatiso Ea Lesotho Maseru 1976)

For nearly thirty wars, the Basotho under King Moshoeshoe I, were involved in “both border wars and negotiations to preserve the territorial integrity and independence of their land….The creation of ‘independent Orange Free State’ in 1854 led to increased pressure and in 1858 to inclusive war.”(LESOTHO by Central Office Information, London page 6)

As early as 1842 the Basotho had asked to be a British protectorate. This was granted on 12th March 1868. But the Basotho had already lost over 50% of their land to the well-armed Boers in the Free State who were supplied with guns by the British colonial regime from the Cape colony, whenever Britain saw the eminent victory for the Basotho. The British were supposedly “the protectors of the Basotho.” But they did no protection for the Basotho. That is why Dr. Mokhehle often said, “Ts’oeu ha li tsoane. (Whites never go against one another, no matter how inhuman and unjust the cause is).

I Schapera has written, “As the reward of [colonial] victory the Free Staters, not only claimed the disputed territory, but the whole of the agricultural part of Basutoland proper, leaving the mountains to the Basotho.”(The Bantu-speaking Tribes of South Africa edited by I. Schapera page 346 Maskew Miller Limited 1966)

In 1939 Edwin E. Smith affirming this historical fact wrote “A very large part of the fertile area of Basutoland (Lesotho) as recognised by Sir George Napier in the Treaty of 1843 was now in the hands of white settlers.” (The Mabilles of Basutoland by Edwin W. Smith pages 96-97 published by Hodder and Stoughton London 1939)

In 1869 the Boer colonialists further seized large tracts of land such as Ngodiloe/Meqheleng, Mashaeng, Manyatseng, Qibing and Matlakeng as part of the “Orange Free State”. They colonially renamed these land areas: Ficksburg (after a colonial general John Fick), Fouriesburg, Ladybrand, Wepner and Zastron, respectively. Wepner is a colonial Boer general who was speared to death by General Makoanyane; as he tried to climb Thaba Bosiu the headquarters of King Moshoeshoe. He had arrogantly boasted that he would sleep with one of King Moshoeshoe’s wives that day.

For his part King Moshoeshoe complained bitterly about the colonial stealing of his land. The King said, “Yes, Sir George Grey is the fifth great man who has come between me and the Boers, and such arrangements have always ended by a piece of my country lost to my people.” 5 (Ibid page 27)

A knowledgeable French historian, Fred Ellenberger has written, “From 1840 to 1880, Lesotho was indeed, the bread basket of the Highveld. The white settlers and early mines relied on grain grown in Lesotho. Lesotho remained a net grain exporting nation until the 1920’s.”(History of the Basotho –Ancient and Modern by D. Fred Ellenberger page 19 Morija Museum and Archives 1997)

Calling a spade a spade, King Moshoeshoe declared, “My great sin is that I possess good fertile land.” He went on to say, “The white men seem to be bent on proving that in politics Christianity plays no part …it may be you, Europeans do not steal cattle, but you steal whole countries; and if you had your wish, you would send us to pasture our cattle in the clouds. They are stealing BLACKMAN’S LAND in the Cape up to here….and call it theirs.”

To Boshof, the leader of the Boers in what they called “Orange Free State,” King Moshoeshoe wrote, “When we saw the whites cross the Orange River [in 836], we wondered at it. They crossed by lots. They begged from the blacks (Basotho) for pastures everywhere, one by one, in good, soft manner. We did not imagine that they would appropriate the land to themselves….” ( Moshoeshoe I Edited by Ntsu Mokhehle Khatiso Ea Lesotho Maseru 1976)

King Moshoeshoe was clear what kind of relationship he wanted with Britain. He did not want what was a“protectorate” but ruled like a colony. Dr. Ntsu Mokhehle tried throughout his life to preserve this country, even under the danger of “incorporation” to the colonialists in what they called the “Union of South Africa.” Africans there too, were colonially land dispossessed up to now.

On the 6th of December 1861, King Moshoeshoe wrote to Queen Victoria then the head of the British Kingdom and said: “I wish to govern my own people by African indigenous laws, but if Britain [as protector] wishes to introduce other laws into my country, I would be willing, but should wish such laws to be submitted to the Council of the Basotho, and when they are accepted by Council, I will send them to the Queen, and inform her that they have become law.”(King Moshoeshoe’s Letter to Queen Victoria 6th Dcember 1861)

Indeed, according to principles of international law, “Law must develop naturally. Law is the creation of each nation or race. Laws must be adapted to the spirit of each nation because rules that apply to one nation are not valid for another nation.” This was articulated by Friedrich Karl-von Savigny, a highly learned international jurist. (Customary Law of Succession Among Basotho by Motsoko Pheko page37Tokoloho Development Association 2012 Johannesburg)

Mr. Stephen J. Gill, curator of Morija Museum and Archives is correct when he writes, “The Basotho had been offered protection, but on British terms. Moshoeshoe’s desire to rule his people under the Queen’s authority [of Britain] was quietly put aside….Britain had larger plans for the sub-continent.” (A Short History Morija Museums and Archives Steven J. Gill 2010)

Authors such as Edwin Smith and M. Opem, affirm this fact when they say: “Boers with the aid of the British seized…the whole of agricultural part of Basutoland proper, leaving the mountains to the Basotho. A very large portion of the fertile Basutoland was area as recognised by Sir Napier George in the 1943 Treaty was now in the hands of white settlers.” (Moshoehoehoe I Profile Edited by Ntsu Mokhehle Khatiso Ea Lesotho 1976)

This is how a large portion of Lesotho and that of Swaziland, in particular were annexed to colonial Union Of South Africa in 1910. In fact, over four million Sesotho-speaking Africans live in the parts of pre-colonial Lesotho; that were taken by force and made part of South Africa through the Union of South Act 1909 and the of the barrel of the gun. Here are some statistics of Sesotho-speaking people in some parts of South Africa.

  1. Free State ………………….62%
  2. Gauteng……………………..10%

     c. Eastern Cape………………..2%

     d. Mpumalanga…………………3%

e.    North West……………………5%

Land is an eternal heritage. That is why formerly all colonially land- dispossessed people of Africa must work even harder for their land. Dr. Mokhehle never excluded pre-colonial land repossession from the liberation agenda of his country.

 I must point out that in July 1995, on the occasion of his state visit to Lesotho; President Nelson Mandela admitted the colonial issue of boundaries between Lesotho and South Africa.

He pointed out that although, the Organisation of Africa Unity (OAU) had passed a resolution that the present boundaries should stay as they are; he held the view that it was still up to the countries concerned to make decisions. In fact, the OAU used the word “negotiation.” This was not a legal obligation. It was based on a Pan African spirit, where all people felt one and not ill-treated as a result of boundaries that were created by colonialists. The example of this is Cameroon in West Africa and Sudan.

On his state visit to Lesotho, President Mandela went to the extent of saying, “Lesotho is a landlocked country and has no access to the sea. But if it needs that, I would sympathetically look into that.” ( Today (Lesotho) Volume Number Ten 15 July 1995)

 Ntsukunyane Mphanya too, who is the author of A Brief History Of Basutoland Congress Party 1959 to 2002 has referred to the colonial land dispossession of the Basotho.(A Brief History of the Basutoland Congress Party 1959-2002 Ntsukunyane Mphanya)

The question of colonial boundaries, however, is not a matter of “sympathy.” It is a matter of legality, justice, right of self-determination and humanity

Indeed, as that academic of the Basotho, M. Damane has stated, “This was a question of Lesotho’s conquered territory…. This was letting people on chairs when they do enter the house.  They may sit there, but the chairs do not belong to them.”

If the Basotho are harassed on the “boundaries,” that were created through European colonial terrorism; this must be urgently corrected.

 Dr. Ntsu Mokhehle would have raised the issue of colonial boundaries if he had lived a little longer. Of course, he would have expected this issue to be resolved in the spirit of Pan Africanism.

I repeat. Land is the eternal property of every nation. Land is the source of life and wealth as well as good health. Industrialisation, economic and technological advancement do not take place in the clouds, but in the land. Food also comes from agriculturists that are in possession of land.

Jobs come from land. There will always be a high rate of joblessness if there is no land repossession and its rapid development in every national aspect where people can have skills for self-employment, instead of entirely depending on being employed by others as the tradition is today. Before colonialism more Africans were self-employed.

 Resources including minerals are found in the land. Africa must look after her resources to benefit her own people. Africa needs the world, but the world also needs Africa. Africa is not empty-handed.

It was not a joke when an American Secretary of State Alexander Haig singled out how much America gets from just one African country. He declared: “Without South Africa’s resources, such as chrome, no engines for modern jet air craft cruise missiles and armaments could be built. The U.S. air force could be grounded. Our military would be unarmed. Without South Africa, surgical equipment and utensils could not be produced. Our hospitals and doctors would be helpless.” (Towards Africa’s Authentic Liberation by Dr.Motsoko Pheko page 50 Tokoloho Development Association 2012)

This American leader pointed out that South Africa is the source of over 80% of American supply of chrome and 86% of platinum resources.

 Dr. Mokhehle agreed with Dr. Kwame Nkrumah that, “If Africa’s resources were used in her development, they would place Africa among the most modernised continents of the world. But Africa’s wealth is used for the development of overseas countries.”

(Towards Africa’s Authentic Liberation by Dr. Motsoko Pheko page 50-51 Tokoloho Development Association 2012)

It has not been good news to learn that not long ago, 317,938 Basotho were reported to be working in South Africa “with no right to work in South Africa.” It is important to register that with Mokhehle’s perspective of Pan Africanism, the two nations, Lesotho and South Africa can work for mutual benefit and prosperity. The Katse Dam Water supply by Lesotho to South Africa already shows the mutual benefit to both countries if they strengthen their Pan African ties.

The earthly salvation of the African people lies in their oneness, their working together for self-reliance of Africa. Africans are in one ship. When that ship sinks, they will all sink; just as in the past, with slavery, colonialism and racism practised against them.

Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe a Pan Africanist in Nigeria reminded that:

 “Africa has had the bad luck to be over-run by European soldiers of fortune that had neither moral fibre nor humanity.” (Tribute to Dr. Kwame Nkrumah on 60th commemoration of death 8 to 13 Accra Ghana December 2018 by Dr. Motsoko Pheko)

He had in mind the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade and The Berlin General Act of 26 February 1885 through which Africans were enslaved and later colonised, except Ethiopia. It was only when Africans worked together that this Continent was partially liberated.

Pan Africanism means all Africans united and working together for their common welfare and future. Pan Africanism is anti-nobody. It is pro-Africa.

The 55 members that make up the African Union are like 55 rooms in one house. When one of those 55 rooms catches fire, the remaining other rooms cannot be unaffected by that fire.

I agree with Dr.Edem Kodjo, the author of AFRICA TOMORROW when he says, “Pan Africanism instils the road to redemption for all the people of Africa. It instils the resolve in them to resist being the wretched of the earth….”

Dr. Ntsu Mokhehle stuck to his Pan African vision until the last breath of his life on the 6th of January1999. That vision must be pursued vigorously by all of Africa. Africa will not survive the onslaught of neo-colonialism without Pan Africanism. Africans on this whole continent including Lesotho and South Africa can make vast progress economically and advance technologically, only when they work together.

 Africa defeated the forces of colonialism only when it was united. Self help is self aid, self management and therefore, achievement of self-reliance and true liberation of Africa.

Dr. Ntsu Mokhehle has left a lasting mark on Lesotho and Africa as a whole. It is not surprising that he attracted two honorary doctoral degrees, one from the National University of Lesotho and another from the University of Fort Hare in South Africa.

He has left a rich legacy that must be preserved. Yes. We are Batswana, Swazis, Basotho, Somalis, Ghanaians, Nigerians, Tanzanians, Zimbabweans, Congolese, South Africans, Angolans, Zambians etc. etc. But the train and aeroplane that will take all of us Africans, to our destination of success, prosperity, self reliance, greatness and our lost power is Pan Africanism; not ethnicity, not regionalism, and not divisions, but Pan African unity.

 Pan Africanism is the privilege of the African people to love themselves, and give their way of life preference. Pan Africanism views the personhood and humanity of the Africans, as equal to any other people on this planet.

Dr. Ntsu Mokhehle is a hero in the class of Makoanyane who was the army general of King Moshoeshoe I. Mokhehle also wanted the Sesotho language well spoken and returned to its pre-colonial purity and dignity. Not demolished both here in Lesotho and in South Africa.

Therefore, I shall close this lecture in his honour by reciting a Sesotho poem. Unfortunately, it is too advanced linguistically, to be translated into English.

MOHALE EA MALEKA MPHENENE

Thakanamane le Rants’ali

Selekane se lefofo sa phakoe le leeba

Sa maburu a lits’oeneng

Sa matsoha se koenehile

Poho ea khetha lithole maroleng

Thotaneng ha Rants’ali

Ha ba ha botsa morena Lets’ooa

A re o ne o le kae

Mohale ea maleka mphenene

Ke ne ke le teng

Ngoana ha bo Mphihlele

Rants’o ts’ukulu ea maboea ka mpejana

Ea maboea ho le bohloko

Ho le libakhabiki li ipabatsa

Banna ba heso ba tsota lits’etlo ho hlaba

Ea re sehlabaneng ha boea ba lonya

Ba nang le Mosetlane le Lerapo

Phatsa tsa majoe li re fahla mahlong

Kulo li arola lihloho tsa batho

Marumo a khaola liphaka

Kharenate li qhoma

Khabo li tuka

Bongata bo re ke letsatsi la bofelo

Ho bahale e le letsatsi la polao.

LONG LIVE THE PAN AFRICAN SPIRIT OF DR.NTSU MOKHEHLE! LONG LIVE LESOTHO! LONG LIVE AFRICA!

References

1. Moshoeshoe I Profile – Se-Moshoeshoe Edited by Ntsu Mokhehle Khatiso Ea Lesotho Maseru 1976

2. LESOTHO by Central Office Information London

3. Bantu-Speaking Tribes Of South Africa edited by I. Schapera page 346 Maskew Miller Ltd 1966

4.The Mabilles of Basutoland by Edwin W. Smith pages 96-97 published by Hodder and Sloughton London 1939

5. Ibid page 27

6. History Of The Basotho –Ancient And Modern by D. Fred Ellenberger page 19 Morija Museum and Archives 1997       

7. Customary Law Of Succession Among Basotho – And Effects of Colonialism Motsoko Pheko page 6 Tokoloho Development Association 2013

8. King Moshoeshoe I Edited by Ntsu Mokhehle, Khatiso Ea Lesotho Maseru 1976

9 Customary Law of Succession Among Basotho –Effects of Colonialism page????Motsoko Pheko Tokoloho Development Association 2016

10. Customary Law Of Succession Among Basotho – Effects Of Colonialism Motsoko Pheko page????Tokoloho Development Association 2013 …..PQGE>>>>Aaviny????

11. A short History of Lesotho by Stephen J. Gill 2010

12. Today [Lesotho] Volume 10 July 15th 1995…

13. Brief History Of Basutoland Congress Party 1957-2002 by Ntsukunyane Mphanya Morija Printing Press Lesotho 2004

14. Towards Africa’s Total Liberation by Motsoko Pheko page 50 Tokoloho Development Association Johannesburg 2012

15 Towards Africa’s Authentic Liberation Motsoko Pheko page 50 Tokoloho Development Association Johannesburg 2012

16. Mail and Guardian 22-28 February 2013

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