“They will never accept, it has never occurred before.” Bontle blurted out.
“But why, this is a critical matter? Why are your people buried in so much barbarism? I am really sorry darling but your people act like Bushmen!” Charles exclaimed.
There was anger in his voice. He chewed on a finger then spit bits of the calloused skin on the floor. The expression of his face spelt out determination and transformation. But if the people themselves felt safe, what could he, a foreigner do about that?
From the reign of Mashoeshoe II, this issue was prevalent. It was killing people, it was a natural epidemic. But it is never dark each day, right? When was the light coming? When was this ‘Kingdom in the sky’ going to see its horizon? This land that foreigners adored for the amazing rugged mountainous terrain still remained stuck in degeneration.
Bontle squeezed his beloved hands firmly and forced a fake smile. He was right. The times have changed. Her people, her society and her whole life had to take a new direction. How many more people will die? How many more loved ones will have their lives at stake? This disease had made the once fat Lehlohonolo rapidly lose weight, it made Buang get prolonged swellings of the lymph glands in her armpits, and this deadly disease that struck the Basutoland had made most of the villagers experience fatigue, pain and endless discomfort.
“Khotso, le phela joang?” The two were interrupted in their thoughts by Amohelang who was the only one amongst the various villagers that fully understood Bontle and Charles mission. Bontle replied to his greetings, a bit disrupted.
Bontle was the only daughter of Diboko. A man that was feared and respected by all. Diboko had a way with words and his charismatic nature was something that the villagers admired him for. He was a staunch believer of traditions and to him; Modimo was always going to be god. He always wondered why some people changed their faith when they flew out to the British country. To him, the spirits of the ancestors was what brought him more cattle. It was better than any other faith, especially the faith that the British brought along, they called it Christianity.
He sat by the fire taking joale with his fellow elders and remembered how well he brought up his daughter such that even though she went to study abroad, she was still embedded in her culture and roots.
Bontle was a beauty, just like her name suggested. When Diboko’s wife gave birth to her, it was a great celebration for the villagers. They knew that a leader had been born. They had anticipated a son but no one dared to raise that issue to Diboko. People murmured and spoke about that in their mokhoros. It was as serious as that. The villagers went about celebrating for a whole week, sacrifices were made, the ancestors were pleased but was the birth of Bontle really a symbol of happiness for the community?
Twenty two years back, the mad man had predicted. The man that the villagers despised and if they had a way, they would have thrown him out. (This is very normal to forecasters in any traditional African society). He had predicted the coming of change, the coming of transformation in the eyes of a white man and their very own. It was cloudy, the vision could not be explained, and it was blurred and unclear.
She shall come,
A savior for our people,
She will come with white,
And preach in dark,
She will bring to us,
A solution to our problems,
But we, as always,
We shall reject.
We shall not accept, never,
Never can a young generation teach the old,
Charles loved her. She was not of normal composition. She reminded him of love and purity and the dances with the devils, she was what no other woman had. She was his heartbeat, his love, his serenity and the diamonds in mines.
In as much as Amohelang tried to help out, it seemed impossible. The doctors themselves were warned about giving out any information and as their health care facilities continued to deteriorate, all that the nurses could do was assist in offering of pain killers.
The disease was not to be cured by pain killers. The numbers were shooting up drastically and as the villagers ignorantly sacrificed more of their cattle to sooth Modimo, it was like nothing was working out. Were the ancestors angry? Was this the result of their evilness?
Mariha, Diboko’s wife had been unwell. The doctors again prescribed anti-biotics. Her health kept on going from 50 to 0 and what Diboko did was to sacrifice more and more to the gods. Bontle could not sleep at night. Charles had sent some of the samples out of the country, to the land of the white men to confirm on their worst fear, and yes it was what they had always feared. She was blessed to have learnt outside the country, atleast she had a very good understanding about each and every headline that was out there, highlighted in red.
10 days later,
Bontle came back home completely exhausted after fetching water from the river. It was always a struggle especially after fully embracing the traditions of the white man and now being partially part of them (relationship with Charles). The elders were seated together in deep contemplation and the women were screaming, in agony, in intense pain. She could hear the young men beat the lekolulo and everyone was wrapped in a Basotho blanket.
She held on to the necklace that strategically hanged at her chest, this necklace was the only thing that her mother had left her with. She tried to keep the tears from flowing. It was gone. What she had always wanted to do for her. Those dreams, the castles and the limousines, the amazing life in Britain. Her hope had died and how do you water a withered heart?
She felt an Omniscient presence in the stale air, she felt rejuvenated. Yes, she had to do this; she had to work really hard with Charles to ensure that the ARV drugs are brought to the village. This time, she was not going to look back… It was that Omniscient presence that rekindled hope in her; it was the power of the Lord.