There’s a joke that Peace Corps Volunteers get very good at staring at walls. I manage to keep myself busy most of the time, but it’s true that life at site moves slowly, and sometimes the days all look the same. For that reason, having visitors is one of the most exciting events imaginable!
I was lucky enough to recently host a Swaziland RPCV (Returned Peace Corps Volunteer) who was traveling in Southern Africa with an American friend. During their visit, I got to show off the mountains and people that make my site so special.
For my friends and students here, it was exciting to meet new Americans (I’m old news now), and they channeled that excitement into what Basotho seem to do best – song and dance! I want to share 2 videos that one of my guests took of musical moments during the visit.
On the night they arrived, we slaughtered two chickens and made a traditional Basotho meal together with my host family and some of the teachers at my school. After we were stuffed with papa and had some Maluti (Basotho beer) in our systems, we started to sing! The bo-‘m’e showed off Basotho hymns… And in return, we taught them the chicken dance and the hokey pokey. Here is a video of one of my favorite Sesotho songs, sung beautifully by my coworkers! This song is about someone who is low until God lifts them up, and the hand motions emphasize that change. The video also features my awkward dancing, which is always a bonus; I’m just not blessed with the perfect singing voice OR sense of rhythm that seems to be the norm here.
The next day, we visited my school, where students were loitering without much to do on the last day of term (exams have already finished!). Grade 7 taught my guests some Sesotho phrases, talked about their favorite parts of Lesotho, and yes, sang some songs. Here are my wonderful students showing off their best moves. It snowed this week and has been very cold, so there are lots of traditional blankets in the video, too!
I’m still not used to the way Basotho burst into song at every possible occasion – at school, home, church, even on taxis- but I’ve come to love it. They all seem to know the same hundreds of songs, including different voice parts for men and women! I’ve only learned a few, but I’m working on it.