Historian Mahlomola Letsie

Liapeng Raliengoane

LESOTHO, Maseru – In pursuit of culture preservation, a young historian Mahlomola Letsie aims to play a significant role in the establishment of a data centre that will house all of Lesotho’s history from inception together with a modern theatre where past heroes and leaders can be viewed in many fascinating forms such as three dimensional images like holograms.

In the words of a great African Leader Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo “The country will never die; the young people will save it.”

Cambridge dictionary explains a historian as someone who writes about or studies history.

Letsie was born and raised in Mphaki, Quthing but later moved to Maseru, the capital city to settle with parents based there due to work. 

Letsie disclosed to Spotlight Global News that his name is in commemoration of the late Mahlomola Letsie senior who was born when King Moshoeshoe I, the Founder of the Basotho nation, died in 1870. 

“He was a very junior son of King Letsie I. In September 1884, he accompanied his step brother Chief Nkuebe Letsie to be the first Principal Chief of Quthing. Subsequently, Chief Mahlomola Letsie senior was awarded the area of Mphaki. His son, Chief Setho Letsie, my grandfather, became the first minister of transport, roads and telecommunications in Lesotho. Under his tutelage, the first tarmac roads were implemented in Lesotho. He also established what would later be known as Lesotho Bank, later Standard Lesotho Bank,” Letsie reminisces.  

He also recalls growing up in a house full of books as his grandfather had a library packed with books.

“I used to read a lot. I grew up being narrated many stories, mostly of “heroes” who were opposing Communism and at that young age, I hated communism. But surprisingly as I grew older and discovered things on my own, I realized that Communism was not bad at all. Coincidentally the books that were pro-communism were even available at home. It was hilarious!” he bursts with laughter.

Surprisingly, Letsie says there were no history subjects in all the schools he attended, he met it through reading then and later in life.

He credits his love for history to the inspiration from the late ntate Tšeliso Ramakhula who was prodigious.  

Moreover, ntate Stephen Gill and David Ambros: the two Europeans who didn’t grow up in Lesotho nor studied history at tertiary level but are very excellent when it comes to the articulation of the history of Lesotho.

 On what fuels his love for history, with a serious face, Letsie declares “the dearth of information on the internet and online platforms regarding our history. If you look at countries such as South Africa and Israel, they have consistent and accurate silos. For example, South Africa has South African History Online (SAHO) a government sponsored initiative. And it is doing extremely good.”

He reveals that the best advice he ever received was that in life, things do not come easy, they are worked hard for, and this advice was from his mentor, the founder and owner of Harambee Global Records, ntate Masitise Seleso.

While doing his work of disseminating history content, Letsie says one of the biggest challenges he encounters is of “the plethora of fake accounts masquerading as netizens, who deliberately try to derail me. It is not easy to ignore them and hold my peace forever, one way or the other I may be tempted to reply.”

On a brighter side though, he says the benefits of being a historian include among others, his inbox being flooded by people asking this and that, being recognized in public spaces such the malls and rubbing shoulders with the big names.

In a nutshell, Letsie’s advice to African youths is that they should love and embrace their culture. “The American Hip Hop culture is found in Japan, in hinterlands of Africa in a remote island off the Pacific coast and so on, because the Americans appreciated and loved their own coined culture.”

Basotho hat

 “Not many people are aware that Catwalk in beauty contests has long been practiced by Basotho in girl grooming games such as Selialia and the likes. But we have been shunning our culture sadly to our own detriment.”

“Africa is a diverse continent than any other geographical region on earth, if young people on this continent can join forces to preserve our diverse cultures and promote hegemony then we can export art music and anything human artistic art and take on anyone anywhere.”

“In my view tourism is the optimal way to make Lesotho famous. We have the world record worthy occurrences such as the “highest lowest point” on earth, and home to the source of the highest waterfall in the world, Tugela, which is few miles away from Lesotho, and many other places of interest.”