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Literature in Lesotho: some reports.

In his recent survey, Southern African Literatures, Michael Chapman finds no place in his grand scheme for a category of "Literature in Lesotho," or more precisely for the English- and Sesotho-language production of the Basotho people and the expatriate writers who have joined them. Where he does deal with writers unique to Lesotho, like Thomas Mofolo and the old newspaper Leselinyana la Lesotho (The Light of Lesotho), or A. S. Mopeli-Paulus, he simply annexes them into the larger "South African literature" in general. This he does, despite the fact that, at least since Albert S. Gerard's Four African Literatures of 1971, the Sesotho one has stood distinct and that, in English (and also in French), literature in Lesotho has kept a kind of inward-looking continuity appropriate to its own concerns, thanks to the dogged Morija press which has functioned undisturbed there for longer than any similar institution within South Africa properly defined.

Over the last several years, pursuing my beat of covering cultural sites within Southern Africa for the book pages of the Johannesburg-based Mail and Guardian newspaper, and as an external examiner to the English Department of their National University, I had had occasion to visit Lesotho frequently - as a reviewer, as a literary tourist, and latterly I see as a kind of apologist for its rich and unique interest in the Southern African region. Chapman could not say the same, and obviously has no sense that it is a place apart.

Lesotho is not only one of the most poverty-stricken countries, but also, because of its intractable geographic position, one of the most isolated. Unbelievably, in the middle of the busy modern world, here is a complex Commonwealth country that scholars seem almost wholly to have disregarded, that has all but vanished from the known world . . . yet the capital, Maseru, is only a five-hour drive from the Johannesburg in which I live.

Using the occasion of a double book review, I began to fill out a larger reportback on Lesotho affairs for The London Magazine. This I quote in full, followed by three shorter articles for the Mail and Guardian.

1. A comment to make about Lesotho - the name by which the Basutoland Protectorate of 1868 was originally known when founded in 1824 by wise King Moshoeshoe I, and to which it reverted being called as an independent country in 1966 - is that it does produce absorbing literature. This is all the more remarkable, as it is shockingly low on the United Nations list of least-developed countries. Often this poor, lost, landlocked enclave has had to survive by avoiding - or keeping aloof from, since it is one of the highest inhabited lands on earth - the impact of the lower-lying South Africa which encloses it. Dependency has a stem meaning here: when South Africa blockaded Lesotho a decade ago, the place was brought to its knees in two days. Behind in all things it may be, but its cultural producers have long been distinguished and ahead.

Lesotho was entered by the (Protestant) Paris Evangelical Missionary Society in 1833, so that nation-building and printing advanced together. The country's museum and archives are kept in apple-pie order at Morija, where a newspaper founded by the mission in 1863 continues appearing for Sesotho-speakers. They are hardy, resilient, imperishable folk, whose founder insisted that details of useful innovations of Western learning be sifted and stored, like fungibles of beads or of grain. At Morija today reprints of the less crass historical memoirs and travelogues are being reissued in a responsible and attractive format.

A theme which runs like a cleansing stream through Elizabeth Eldredge's new attempt is that previous versions of Lesotho history have been distorted by the ideological masterplans of the times which produced them: the Sturm und Drang of frontier days, the rise of the greedy Empire, its decline as in the analyses of Marxist determinism, the shabby consumerist values of the media which have written off such rural backwaters. Encountering Eldredge, one has to detoxify from all that, stop reading into their world backwards, as she says. One has to learn this new approach: hearing the country speak for itself.

A South African Kingdom must stand out in the Cambridge African Studies Series, for it really is derived from the long list of oral sources cited. Most of the informants were born at the turn of the century and interviewed by Eldredge in the early 1980s, and hence her subtitle - The Pursuit of Security in Nineteenth-Century Lesotho - testifies to the staying-power of her subjects. The picture is of a successful grain-producing and transhumant social organization driven into retreat from the fertile plains, of skillful brokers and traders becoming so hemmed in by Boer marauders and British tax collectors that in their flight up those impregnable sandstone cliffs all they could count on at times were locusts to eat. Even now much of the kingdom is accessible only by air, or by pony-trekking with packs up spectacular bridle paths. When snowstorms maroon the outposts, assistance often has to be extended by helicopter. Without the Basotho invasion of the wild massif of the Malutis, those Jurassic fossil trackways would probably still be the lairs of the crocodilion and of the now almost extinct - and most majestic - bearded vulture.

Eldredge writes about the people of her mountain fastness in exactly the commonsensical, well-informed way needed to transform the previously exotic records into the comprehensible and quotidian. Her work offers a clean-slate, fresh beginning in Southern African historiography, dense, particular, and more than welcome at such a transitional time.

Morija also produced Thomas Mofolo, born in 1877, the extraordinary layman trader who wrote copiously of these unflappable, idyllic valleys comfortably syncretizing Christian beliefs and so much else into their own systems. One of his inspirational texts, Traveller to the East, gorgeously drawn out of a throwaway line by Wordsworth, is an allegory of the black soul seeking white-hot light . . . and finding its full entitlement.

In 1925 Mofolo startled his publishers there with an account of the formative history of the coastal tribes, Chaka (named after the Zulu ruler who would be called Shaka today). When the novel was put out in a prim and bowdlerized English version in 1931, it impressed even Sir Henry Newbolt with its Bunyanesque dash and fiery, primitive imagery. A strange mixture of decadent bodily splendors and Gothic horrors, the work occasionally allows praise to turn into schmaltz. Mofolo's modest romance in many translations has become the foundational text of more recent pan-African literature. A much toned down and more thorough rendering was made by Daniel Kunene in 1981. Before the Kunene clean-up, I visited the home of Mofolo's descendants in the capital, Maseru, with the British publisher Rex Collings, who was in search of Mofolo memorabilia. The house was crammed with examples: his face on Cuban banknotes, Russian medallions, ricebowls, Ghanaian pendants.

Chaka we may now see, for all its assertion of black values, is rotten with the biases of white myth-makers who needed to allay their fears of those Zulu hordes continuing to beat them and eat them. But alongside the sensational violence of the heroic strain is a more pacific and dignified one, convincing and ready to be discovered anew. Deeply touching is the original Moshoeshoe's tribute to Shaka, for example: gray crane-feathers, sent to decorate an army. A statesmanlike gesture, evidence of the kind of treaties and transactions which flourished in the region, as Eldredge shows, before Western regulations were imposed.

Another novelist in Sesotho is A. S. Mopeli-Paulus, born in 1913 and still writing - indeed, completing his autobiography. Lesotho has only a belt of red, eroded, arable soil along its foothills, a bite of which comprises the Witzieshoek reserve, another labor reservoir until recently known as the "independent homeland" of QwaQwa. From there the "comely young man" Monare, son of a World War II veteran, sets off in Mopeli-Paulus's novel of 1953, Blanket Boy's Moon (written in collaboration with Peter Lanham and a recommendation of the Book Society). The work continues to be pertinent in Lesotho for the reason that blanket-swathed youths in woven, conical grass hats - striking to come across on a city pavement - are still recruited to labor in the South African mines. With the strength of their arms, they continue to raise no less than half their country's GNP.

So this is a land of gold-widows and migrant menfolk, most of whom hardly get to live together during adulthood. In Monare's case he kills someone in an oblative ritual, a desperate attempt to hold the social fabric together through invoking extreme supernatural aid. Story of a nation, where the Godwith-the-Wet-Nose (kine) is adored and the Native Recruitment Corporation dreaded.

The other center of learning is in the (Catholic) Roma Valley, where at the university for decades student refugees from apartheid South Africa were nurtured, particularly when Njabulo Ndebele, the short-story writer, was a distinguished presence on campus. Now evacuees from Somalia, Ethiopia, Uganda play soccer there with the locals. Roma has the distinction of the rocky tomb of Father Gerard, which, once touched, reportedly turns the infertile overnight into heavy breeders. In 1988 Pope John Paul II came to beatify him. Roma's English department has also generated the second of the new books dealt with here, Zakes Mda's compulsively thorough When People Play People.

When I visited the department recently and asked what had happened to the renowned Marotholi Travelling Theatre of the 1980s, which Mda's book commemorates, a colleague mumbled something about "the usual." I thought he meant the twelve-party March 1993 election (the first in two decades), at which the opposition Basotho Congress Party (formerly all in jail) took every single seat in a spectacular landslide (a word not used lightly in those shaky volcanic parts). I though he meant the return of King Moshoeshoe II from exile in London (where in Index on Censorship he argued tactfully against the military rulers who ousted him, styling himself as a "people's democrat"); he now was back to depose his own epigone, the remorseful young Letsie III. I thought he meant the commissions of inquiry being held into every and all aspects of the running of the state. He meant bad accounting. Never mind, the entire achievement is well preserved in Mda's chronicle.

How to catch a clinching image of Marotholi's performances in this most ritualized and theatrical of places? In the university library is a photo from 1947, of George VI and his family arriving at the Great Pitso held in their honor - in a Daimler, over the cloddish veld, flanked by the Mounted Police with flags at the end of their lances, the pale faces of the princesses glued to the window. Pitso means an adult gathering (parliament, if you like), attended by virtually the entire nation. The sheer theatre of pageantry, and the educative discussion of its meaning.

The activity of Mda's perky young company, although coming from anything but a royalist corner, was not dissimilar. We would have to go into many communicological paradigms, as indeed the book does, to know just how the message was best delivered. Put simply, his subtitle is Development Communication Through Theatre, and that means the following were called for: research (interviews with grass-roots people themselves for problem identification and solving), an "arena trouve" (the sisal grove within hutments), and then performances in which audiences may not be tempted to vote with their feet but rather stayed and were entertained. Topics include Sanitation, Alcoholism, Migrancy and Remittances, Unions. As the appendix shows, the translated transcripts of the plays are not only deeply clever but, well, a lot of fun.

The question posed by the company was the necessary one: why in the Third World do national elites get wealthier, while the peasants in their villages get poorer? Handouts merely increase dependence, we know. But like his predecessors, Mda knows that imported Western techniques, like plays devised to foster real development, need not alienate and enslave. They may be sifted, turned about, rewritten. Obviously Mda's audiences could never stand to leave.

2. "Moriah" was the founders' name in 1833 for their outpost in the western foothills of Basutoland - the Hebrew word pronounced the French way. It has come down to us corruptly as "Morija": nativized, African. There the newspaper Leselinyana was first produced in 1863, and is still put out today, no longer by the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society but now by the Lesotho Evangelical Church. Morija has other distinctions: the kingdom's only museum; a rattlingly good print-house; in the shadow of its spire, an archives blessed with order. There is also the Morija Book Publishing Fund, which, partly with Canadian sponsorship, is editing and printing historical books.

The first three titles are more than noteworthy. Each is in a limited edition, rather highly priced to maintain the momentum of the project. They also represent the three distinct generations of those "sturdy and pious" Protestants whom their earthly king - that extraordinary nation-builder, Moshoeshoe I - "bought" from the Cape with two hundred head of cattle.

The first and most endearing of them is the Missionary Excursion of Thomas Arbousset, to whom we owe the name of Mont-aux-Sources for the highest mountain in the chain. In 1840, when he wished to plot the source of the Orange River from the massif side, Moshoeshoe not only organized the expedition, but led the entourage himself. The zestful ruler was then fifty-four, the stripling whom he referred to as "his" missionary half his age. The result is this young hopeful's record. Its full title: Missionary Excursion into the Blue Mountains, being an Account of King Moshoeshoe's Expedition from Thaba Bosiu to the Sources of the Malibamatso River in the Year 1840. Until recently in copperplate in notebooks kept in Europe, the narrative is unrevised and incomplete. All the more fascinating for its unguarded, unpolished state.

At one point on the route, Moshoeshoe comes upon the youth writing up his experience. "My language remains my language even on your paper," he remarks. They chaff one another about inkstains, blotches. "What would happen," the scribe then asks in his best Sesotho, "if I were to be recalled to my home?" The answer: "Even without paper my children would carry their moruti in their travelling bag wherever they go."

Through the lightning-struck ravines they proceed. The two of them scale a peak near the king's birthplace for the view, descend for "a light meal of biscuits, cheese, raisins and a cup of tea" as a reward. Moshoeshoe's best horse is called Bles: "As soon as he mounts that young colt, it is certain he will be going at the gallop." A horse of theirs is devoured by lions; the farm-boy from Montpellier shoos them off with his umbrella. They interview bandits who live off unwary travelers and, in bad times, eat them; they do sleep closer that night, in case. "Anthropophagi," Arbousset calls them, a big bogeyman joke. Would that all historical sources were so gutsy, providently in the spirit of the Lord.

The Eugene Casalis record of his twenty-three years at Morija, The Basutos of 1861, is more formal, polished. He can still say: "The native has no secrets from him whom he sees smiling upon his children, and sleeping peacefully at their side." His aim is to render Morija "accessible to Christianity and commerce," but by abundantly collecting language, proverbs, and fables he rather accomplished the reverse: making what he calls his "beloved second home" known to the reader of his first.

He leaves Morija only because in 1854 his wife dies. At the funeral Moshoeshoe comforts him by saying that he has never been the same since the death of his first wife, always feels alone in a crowd. And Casalis is right, that the "proverbial fact" of his day was "the desire that men feel to draw near to each other, to know one another, and live a life in common." He dreads the future: once the missionaries go, the magistrates will come and split them.

By the time of D. F. Ellenberger and his account of 1912, there is more regalia than royalty in Lesotho. For his History of the Basuto to come out at all, it had to have the endorsement of prefatory matter by the Governor-General, the High Commissioner, His Honour the British Resident, and even the Assistant Commissioner. In short, everyone else had had it.

For example, "Cannibalism is a sort of mental aberration . . . ," Ellenberger begins his pages of ethnological guff on that topic. Then follows a theory of tribal autophagy which, misquoting Arbousset, will land up in a District Commissioner's pernicious handbook on how to rule . . . and eventuate in one of Peter Becker's lurid biographical melodramas. It's true - my guide on Thaba Bosiu quoted Becker's Hill of Destiny at me in chunks, about how Lesotho never got anywhere because its people kept on eating one another. So much for the Racist Version. G. M. Theal, who organized the records Ellenberger used, is to blame. So are we, if we believe him.

I gave my guide a helping hand, said if he felt famished . . . . We laughed up the path through the ramparts where the burgher commando Louw Wepener was felled, through the towering agaves, along the candelabra flowers rolling like tumbleweed into the upright headstones. Zinnias. A convocation of cairns. On the roof of Africa. Christian in name. Sacred.

The Morija archivist, Stephen Gill, has incorporated much of his exhaustive introductory material to the Casalis and Ellenberger volumes in his new Short History of Lesotho, which is the first such attempt in forty years, specially done to update and reorientate the subject in the wake of the 1993 national elections. Understandably, his theme is the damage "strong men" have done, how democracy may take on (was always potentially in action). The work is neat and readable, gets largely beyond the distorted imperial and apartheid records, which is a feat of considerable interest.

Maturity is all in Lesotho, it seems, however: the current guide to the country has not been redone since 1974. Paradoxically, then, at the quaint old mission station out in the boondocks, the production of history has outpaced the current scene.

3. The word mokete in Sesotho means a feast, one with much singing and dancing. This particular banquet was thrown by a kereke, a kirk or church, specifically the Lesotho Evangelical one. The guest of honor was the country's new young king, paying a first visit to the institution, even though it originally opened up all of forty years ago. But now-let's say-it's all official: the single museum in Lesotho will no longer be as reliant on grants from the Ford Foundation, Goldfields, and the Netherlands-Lesotho Foundation. With the archives alongside, it may look forward to state subsidy.

On the adjacent lawn gathered His Majesty's commoners, thousands of the orderly locals before a tent of dignitaries. Doves outvolting the sound system, fruit blossoms coming down like confetti on the shoulders of speaker after speaker. This is where slow-moving morutis, the breeze carrying away their pages, are listened to, while a matriarch in hides gets a span of toddlers to blow their noses on her toilet roll.

This happy valley of Morija, forty minutes south of Maseru, is a sandstone settlement on a stream, an old Swiss oasis in darkest Africa. Between the exhortations girls crash out girded in maizesack skirts, ululating, rattling their Nugget shoepolish cans. Then the young blades, in blue peltries, jingling their bells. Praising the lord.

Distantly the largest Sesotho-language printing press can just be heard, turning out the latest Leselinyana. There too the most recent fine publication of the museum has recently been produced: the rather dourly titled The Mabilles of Basutoland by Edwin W. Smith, a facsimile of the 1939 edition.

The content is anything but dour: a hyperactive, weepy, twenty-six-part miniseries would be closer. It features all the turmoil and derring-do of the extraordinary Paris Missionary Society in these parts. The description of the siege of Thaba Bosiu alone is worth the book. Smith rather charmingly calls Adolphe Mabille and his consort Adele "pious Huguenots of the ancient type." Tough as old boots, more likely.

Adele herself was a daughter of that Eugene Casalis whom Moshoeshoe had famously purchased as his go-between. Born at the foot of his mountain fastness of Thaba Bosiu, at fourteen on the unexpected death of her mother she had to take charge of her siblings. She was at the ninety-year-old king's deathbed, his Delly . . . holding his wobbly hand, chivvying him off to heaven. Although he never converted, they always trusted each other, and it is her intimate version which forms the core here. By the time she in turn reached an advanced old age, she was the mother of a nation they had together pulled through unheard-of brutalities.

Moshoeshoe I attracts as good a press as his contemporary King Shaka of the Zulus gets a bad one, probably because Adolphe Mabille was the former's skillful tribune. He was a modest sou-missionary, funded by the small change of European collections. Sedulous is not the word, zeal too fanatical. In the midst of lawless filibusters and cattle reivers, building their manse in the grainlands, having it burnt down, they simply became immovable. She translating his sermons into Sesotho, their furloughs back in Europe every twenty-one years . . . advising a people who could muster 400,000 muskets and outlast a Boer siege, excommunicating, readmitting backsliders. The whole riveting chronicle is priceless today, a classic work indeed.

Stephen Gill, the American curator who directs the reprint series, has also compiled a Guide to the Morija area, including hikes in the surrounding amphitheatre pursuing dinosaur prints (turn left at the hammerhead nest) and more. But the museum itself is the real draw. Started in a classroom in the old European school, with help from the British Resident, it is not much bigger today.

There is still a British Resident in Lesotho. Before him a two-toothed elder in a three-piece suit was praising his king and complaining for all I could tell about the unruly behavior of Commandant Louw Wepener. The Resident bent sideways for the simultaneous translation. The king himself spoke - Letsie III, the unmarried descendant of Moshoeshoe I and son of Moshoeshoe II, also laid to rest on Thaba Bosiu, under a heap of red roses placed there in early 1996 by President Nelson Mandela. Now for new-style rule: the young king wears a sports jacket and silk tie, plain talking without notes, twisting his watch-strap. Neatly done. A national center is now at last becoming a tourist site.

At the end of the proceedings, the Resident had this to say: "Thirsty work, eh?" We were skipping the last item on the program - clearing up the surroundings - after singing one of the Mabilles' good hymns. We were hungry for the mokete, right down to the Maluti Beer and mixed jellies. I had picked out one greeting: "So long as you remain in harmony, welcome." Those pioneer Protestants had come to release the Hottentot slaves from their chains, to give them collars instead. And now there be print, and that print is preserved.

4. Today (in 1997) I have found a new way to view Lesotho: through the eyes of Andrew Smith. He was self-taught and Scottish, founded - and in 1825 became the first superintendent of - the South African Museum in Cape Town, the first of its kind in the expanding land. He was of course a collector of the bagging and stuffing variety. Some of his specimens are still snarling and pouncing on the public in the Royal Museum on Edinburgh's Chambers Street. These zoological trophies he eventually lived off exhibiting, as evidence of the Darwinian tooth-and-claw-type of worldview. During the Imperial heyday natural history was probably best kept in glass cases. Smith himself, however, was an altogether calmer negotiator of political affairs, a peacekeeper more appropriate to the present age.

Museum styles have also so altered that they seem reversed. Nowadays one goes back out to original sites, checking if there is anything left of their history in the open air. Using Smith, I decided to tramp up Thaba Bosiu one last time, up that mountain recently declared a national monument. Preservation is now in progress there, and I wished to see it afresh.

For a modest fee those friendly guides are still supplied by the Tourist Information Center, near the Mmelesi Lodge outside Maseru, at the base of the ascent. They willingly assist one over the basalt boulders and bricolage, tending themselves to bound up the narrow frontal defile, the Khubelu Pass. An alternative coward's route is now open and winds up more sedately. Either way, the ceremony of arrival has not changed since King Moshoeshoe first settled on his impregnable plateau: adding a stone to the cairn above the entry. I now see the point: a stockpile of defensive weapons.

On behalf of the Cape of Good Hope Association for Exploring Central Africa, Smith ventured up there in October 1834 to interview this formidable Moshoeshoe. He had visited Dingane in Zululand and was en route to consult with Mzilikazi of the Matabele in the Western Transvaal. Accompanying him as guide up what he called the "escalade of the pentagonal hill" was Casalis himself, who well knew Moshoeshoe the Shaver (or Leveller) and his capital rising out of the bone-strewn plain - this Mountain of the Night.

What the present-day guides tell you about it all is still a rather prejudicial fantasia, far from archivally verifiable truth. One great eucalyptus that has dried up the original springs could not possibly be where the king used to hold court; gum-trees were not imported yet. Nor is the stone cottage the ruins of Moshoeshoe's polygamous palace; more likely it is just a later trading-goods store.

When somber, bearded Smith and his entourage sweated up past that cairn, the plateau was smoky with wood-fires. He was escorted by the king's "shrieking praise-singer" and many "clamorous women," keeping others off him in turn. Moshoeshoe's raging and senile father had to be beaten off. Among the "novel and interesting scenes" he records was the sight of an entire wicker village so labyrinthinely designed that the king's residence at the core was hidden from strangers.

And there was the actual Moshoeshoe himself awaiting the procession, the lissom potentate, ruler of the Drakensberg range. Above the waist he wore only a string of glass beads about his brow, with a tail of small feathers. His lower half was swathed in panther skins. Distribution of tobacco commences, in return for baskets of curdled milk. Days pass as they tour the defenses of the Sotho redoubt together: "almost uniform perpendicularity . . . which bids defiance to the further advance of the foe," notes Smith.

At last he enacts what he has been commissioned to do: presenting to an ally the goodwill tokens of a British royal cloak and medal. These were bestowed at a mass gathering, the likes of which had never been seen in those parts. Moshoeshoe, who ruled through most of the nineteenth century, was never unseated from that lofty fastness either. His grave is still up there, as I have noted previously, not unvisited. A Western-style tombstone among amaryllis flowers, center of the national shrine and his royal line.

Other details of Smith's sojourn at Thaba Bosiu stick in the memory. In the event of that siege, those magical springs could never have sustained the whole retinue with cattle, so the stronghold was secretly permeable. The watchmen, patrolling the plunging cliffs, barking right through the night like dogs to prove to the community they were awake ....

Smith, Moshoeshoe's unlikely recorder, had to move on. As an army surgeon, he came to designing ambulances for the Crimean campaign. For his footwork in the Cape he was eventually elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. He was born two hundred years ago, as I write. His cordial journal from which the details above are taken was published by the South African Museum only in 1975 - too late to influence the more virulent popularizers - and has not been reprinted. But his account of how diplomatic exchanges actually once occurred merits rereading today for its exactness. How else may one trace his dusty footsteps, all the way up that magnificent formation, to meet with the real recorded past? How else learn the landscape?

Back to the present and my summary of the Lesotho literary situation.

Neither has the French link within Lesotho's past remained dormant and forgotten. Quite surprisingly, in 1994, the French-language novel which won that year's Prix Renaudot, published by Les Editions de l'Olivier in Paris, was set largely in the Lesotho of both the past and the present. This is Guillaume Le Touze's extraordinary Comme ton Pere, which tells of the Parisian Paul, evading his former wife Claudia, his son by her, the collapsing cripple Giuseppe, and his more recent boyfriend. To escape them all, he arrives in South Africa just before the democratic elections of 1994. Ostensibly his mission is to trace those Protestant forebears of his who settled in the red-rocked Masitise Caves, just above the present Morija. The central section of the novel recounts in the form of her letters the newly-wed missionary wife's arrival there in the 1860s, and the development of their station until after the death of Moshoeshoe. Told in interweaving monologues, the story of the frail modern family contrasts startlingly with the robust earlier version of life in Africa, during which, despite child deaths, raids, disease, desertion, what becomes a thriving and industrious religious community is forged. For Le Touze's broken modern family it is no more than a rocky holdout, a picturesque temporary refuge for losers, away from it all. That Lesotho could be the core of a highly sophisticated, late-twentieth-century mainstream Parisian fiction is worth noting, indeed.

There are other notes to be made in conclusion. The first six issues of the National University's Journal of Research, until recently edited by Chris Dunton, each contain an annotated bibliography compiled by David Ambrose of new work relevant to Lesotho research, literature included. Marco Turco has at last compiled an up-to-date Visitors' Guide to Lesotho on how to get there and where to stay, chiefly for backpackers with sturdy footwear.

As regards life histories, there is Kay Kendall's new compilation, Basali!, which features stories told by and about women in Lesotho. Quite incidentally, this gives ample evidence of how Lesotho citizens with good reason hold themselves distinct from their environing, enveloping South African neighbors. Literary critics would do well to maintain that distinction from here on.



Arbousset, Thomas. Mission Excursion (1840). Morija Archives. 1991.

Casalis, Eugene. The Basutos (1861). Morija Museum and Archives. 1991.

Chapman, Michael. Southern African Literatures. London. Longman. 1996.

Eldredge, Elizabeth A. A South African Kingdom. Cambridge, Eng. Cambridge University Press. 1993.

Ellenberger, D. Fred. History of the Basuto, Ancient and Modern (1912). Morija Museum and Archives. 1992.

Gill, Stephen J. A Short History of Lesotho. Morija Museum and Archives. 1993.

Kendall, Kay (ed.). Basali! Stones by and About Women in Lesotho. Pietermaritzburg, University of Natal Press. 1995.

Le Touze, Guillaume. Comme ton Pere. Paris. L'Olivier. 1994.

Mda, Zakes. When People Play People. London. Zed. 1993.

Smith, Andrew. Andrew Smith's Journal of His Expedition into the Interior of South Africa (1834-36). Cape Town. Balkema. 1975.

Smith, Edwin W. The Mabilles of Basutoland (1939). Morija Museum and Archives. 1996.

STEPHEN GRAY (b. Cape Town in 1941) for several years lectured in English in Johannesburg. He is the author of Southern African Literature: An Introduction (1979) and in 1994 published his Selected Poems (David Philip). A recent novel of his, Drakenstein, is set in the Lesotho highlands (Justified, 1994).
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Author:Gray, Stephen
Publication:World Literature Today
Date:Jan 1, 1998
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