Monday, January 16, 2006

March 5th 2003

Hi Everyone,

Things are going fine here. I haven’t been doing a lot of work lately but I have still kept myself busy. I have been doing other things like reading, working in the garden, and hanging out with friends. There are a lot of reasons why I am not doing much but I would have to say that a major reason I am not doing much is neither is anybody else.
It is just a way of life around here that people don’t get excited about much except sometimes maybe football. It is also a way of life in which no one is ever accountable or responsible for anything. It makes for a life filled with little stress but it also makes for a life in which not a lot gets done.
It is kind of hard to explain and I am sure I am going to do a poor job but I would like to try. From first impression one might say that Africans on a whole are lazy. This is something I hear quite often from Peace Corps Volunteers and Basotho alike. I personally don’t fully believe in this. I feel like it just often looks that way. The thing is it appears to me now that they just do not want to have any stress. They do not want to be responsible for anything is more of a way of putting it. I can see this in when someone does take charge an orders other people around that the Basotho actually do work. The thing is though is very rarely do I ever see any chiefs but everyone is an Indian. This in a way is in stark contrast to the American culture in which at times it seems like I watch five people in a group and see five people that are chiefs.
This way of life is very apparent. For all the shopping and over a hundred stores I have been in only a handful of the shops have been Basotho owned. All the shops that are in Lesotho are for the most part either owned by the Indians (who have the food shops) or the Chinese (who sell cheap made in China clothes and electronics). I firmly believe that is because the Basotho just do not want to be responsible for running such shops. There lack of responsibility or accountability for a businesses welfare goes as far as if by somehow they do get a business many other Basotho will come and borrow stock from the business with intentions of paying later. Of course the shop does not get paid back because the person borrowing does not feel responsible to pay back the money. Time and time again I have heard about Basotho businesses going out of business because they gave everything out for free. This is also a reason for the banks in this part of the world under no circumstances giving loans out with out solid collateral and even then it is tuff.
This way of life is fundamental and it goes down to the way they even walk. I would like to tape the place I live and play back just how slow people walk. Everyone here walks like the elderly in the parking lot of a cafeteria.
J I know they are going somewhere but they are all definitely not in a hurry. This of course has one exception. Sometimes if a person is not walking slowly they are running very fast. It is almost like there is no in between speed. I have met one Basotho that likes to walk at a decent American pace and every one else walks at lest three times to five times slower than me. This is of course except for the people that are running which I think have for some reason or another been obliged to run for some circumstance as running here is not a big past time for health reasons. Also I have checked around and heard different theories as for explanations of the walking slow and have been told it is too hot. The walking slow is a year round all weather phenomena though whether it is really how really cold, whiter it is nice, or even if it is raining they are still walking slow.
I am lucky though I was prepared for periods of times in which I knew it was very well possible that I was not going to be doing much work. I had been talking to one of my African friends one time about Lesotho. He had basically explained to me that when I went to Africa most people would not have jobs. At least half of the people that could work won’t be maybe even as few as one in ten will actually be working. More to that is the fact that the people that do have jobs will often show up late or not at all to work. If and when they do show up they will not work much but will pass the time by talking and talking. I was so surprised in him questioning him just how much he knew about Lesotho. How could he know all about the habits of these people? He admitted he had not ever been here but that maybe a few times he had met a Basotho but he assured me he was right. Well I have to admit he was pretty close to right except the people here when they come to work instead of doing a lot of talking and talking they do a lot of talking and eating. All these women are fat. At almost anytime of the day I can go into the teachers lounge and find a few of them in there if not almost all of them. I would also say about half of the time I am visiting the teacher’s lounge that they are eating too.
I am getting used to not much happening around here and for the most part I don’t mind. We really only have one old computer at the school and I have taught much of what can be done on it that applies to the teachers. In the meantime now I just take a book or magazine and go to the teachers lounge and hang out with the teachers. They seemingly love to talk with me and treat me real nice always for a little while. When they get tired they then usually start talking in Sesotho and I don’t follow the conversation much so then I just start reading the magazine or book. I spend at least half of my scheduled computer lesson times in the staff room talking, reading, and of course snacking until things work out with some new computers. Next semester though new computers or not I feel like I am going to help out with the English class and see how it goes.
Otherwise I have been considering different HIV campaigns to wage. The HIV rate in 2000 was at 32 percent for Lesotho. They say that it has also been consistently rising at least five percent to seven percent per year too. Which means by the time I go back to America about half of the people will have it. This in large part also goes back to the fact that no one is accountable for the disease. The people that have it are saying too much this or that person gave it too me instead of I did something I was not supposed to do and am paying for it. No one also wants to be responsible for wearing the condom and no one wants to be responsible for trying to prevent it. A person might think that where it is statistically known that so many have HIV and is even acknowledged by the Kind and the Parliament that there would be a lot of HIV prevention programs and maintenance programs. There are not. There are less than twenty places to be tested and only one place in the country gives the proper medicine for treating it. Furthermore in a country where tradition is culture and is sanctified no one wants to be responsible for changing tradition. The tradition here is too that people for one do not talk about sex and do not promote condoms but people secretly have lots of it. So as is perceived by me most of this country maybe even upwards of seventy five percent will have the disease before any serious changes are done about the culture and the way people perceive this new disease. The disease is already won in devastating this country in the years to come and that is at the point it already is. It is not getting better though but worse and things aren’t changing because everything is fine and people don’t want to be bothered with all the changes. It is like watching a culture and people die being here sometimes. I do understand though that it is the course of things and not much is going to be done about it. I honestly feel that if it was not for people like the Peace Corps and other International aid organizations this disease would basically of wiped out the whole indigenous peoples of the whole sub-Saharan Africa.

As it is I am planning I trying to do my part and help this place. It is not clear to me if I am going to be able to do much good but I feel like that if people keep on presenting over and over facts about HIV and Aids to the Basotho that after a while some people might turn around. I know that this email might have been kind of depressing and was long as I have not written in a while but I am trying to present a representation of what life is like here. It is in a lot of ways real nice at times and at other times and in other was often not so nice. I hope everyone is well though and I love ya’ll. Jeff


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