Monday, 06 December 2021 02:32 GMT

Long live Sesotho folktales


(MENAFN- The Post) ROMA – Mpho Sesiu-Machobane, a former National University of Lesotho (NUL) who created an animated DVD on Basotho folktales“Litšomo tsa Sesotho,” told in the English language, has died about two months ago.
But her dream of creating and re-telling folktales in modern forms lives.
Her sister, Matšeliso Sesiu, has now taken over the baton from her late sister.
To mark and celebrate her exciting work, thepost is running the story below which was done just before she died as a tribute to her hard work.
Mpho's family has allowed us to publish the story as part of her legacy.
“Ba re e ne 're!”

This is how Basotho start their folklores, which in English is equivalent to“Once upon a time” although the Sesotho root meaning is“It is said a time ago”.
Some of the classic folktales include the likes of Tselane and the Cannibal, Dinosaur (Kholumo-lumo), the Legend of the Tortoise, the Little Hare, the Gathering of the Birds, the Hare and the Lion, and the Bird that Made Milk.
In her Creation, Sesiu-Machobane was responding to a call from parents who said they needed to improve their children's English reading skills while they also learnt Sesotho folktales.
No so long ago, there were no computers and no smartphones.

A little bit back and there were no radios and TVs.
All we had were our imagination and memories (our brains are still the best computers in the known universe).
So Basotho, like other cultures, got into the habit of creating folktales and telling them to their children, usually before sleeping at night.
“Such tales,” Sesiu-Machobane said,“were often delivered orally and told from generation to generation.”
Those of us who used to listen to such tales—and there is quite a few still hanging around— can tell you how exciting the tales used be.
They were meant to stimulate a child's imagination, among the many benefits.

The end of the 20th century and the start of the 21st century created a new era in which the digital world created and destroyed everything we knew in equal force.
Among the victims whose fortunes dwindled were post offices and handwritten letters, photo albums, wrist watches (of course the elite still wear them), audio cassettes, radio, campus…the list is endless.
The folktales were also destroyed by this modernism.
First it was the radio dramas of the 70s and 80s which dealt folktales a blow, then the animated children's TV series of the 90s and early 2000s and now, increasingly, the endless, unending varieties of stories and games of the smartphones that have captured children's attention.

In the process, the pure, educating, refreshing Basotho folktales took the back seat until Sesiu-Machobane stepped in.
Listen to her story.
“Firstly, the publication of this book is in response to parents who heard about Sesotho tales production which is advanced production of reinventing Sesotho oral tradition in the 21st century in digital moving cartoons I introduced some time ago,” she said.
“They asked if I could do a folktale book for their children but written in English because their children had poor English reading skills.”
“Secondly, this publication is in response to a few people who own lodges at tourist attractions in Lesotho.”

“They called me asking for any books of folktales written in the English language. They said more often their visitors asked if they had anything to read from early Basotho culture, especially folktales.
“Visitors often wanted to connect and feel how life could have been in Lesotho, as portrayed in the tales, as they unwound in their guest rooms after tours. In fact, as I started translating the tales, I had to go underground in order to get things done. I disappeared from my friends and family and I was nowhere to be seen on social media. That didn't go well with those close to me and, I render my apologies.”

This book is an attempt to introduce children to early Basotho folktales which used to be delivered orally.
The book brings together the folktales and interpretations from the existing oral traditions to help children develop strong reading skills, to model character traits, to study early Basotho culture, to learn, to laugh and to get the ability to paint relevant mental pictures from the texts.
We cover such tales as Tselane and the Cannibal, Dinosaur, the Legend of the Tortoise, the Little Hare, the Gathering of the Birds, the Hare and the Lion and the Bird that Made Milk.

Sesotho folktales are fascinating for a number of reasons.
They contain interesting characters, usually very good or very bad with characteristics exaggerated, setting exciting adventures.
They contain hidden meaning (they are parables) which gives wisdom, teach effective decision-making, good behaviour and desirable character traits.
They are rich in positive morals to inspire children with themes of kindness, generosity, friendship, caring and trust.
They have a cultural context to help children learn.
They have supernatural elements thus they focus on action.

They have happy endings and fundamental wisdom.
Each story is a text and have illustrations to help children understand what they are reading, allowing new readers to analyse the story.
There is“a lesson of the story,”“Imagine” and“did you know” parts at the end of some folktales.
We also have an upcoming new DVD animating the story of Tselane le Limo.”

Own Correspondent

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