Friday, April 3, 2015


Pronounced Le-soo-too, it is not really a country at all, but a land-locked kingdom inside South Africa that was given its independence by the British. Like Shangrila and Eldorado, it is almost impossible to get to Lesotho. There is no airport that can accommodate the sorts of planes most of us prefer, though biplanes can land on various makeshift landing strips. Horseback is your best mode of travel, though many hundreds of thousands had no alternative but to walk there in the worst days of apartheid, when you lived in Lesotho but your employer was in South Africa itself – and lucky you to have one, even if it was the darkness of a gold mine. Given the famous Mediterranean weather of South Africa, you may be surprised to be told you need heavy boots and seriously warm clothing between October and April, and be prepared for thick snow. Do not expect to stay in a hotel – rondavels are what you will find, circular mud huts with mud floors and thatched roofs. The only roads are the ones that run out in mineral mines. There is now fresh water, but limited in accessibility and only for drinking – agriculture doesn’t require it, because there is no agriculture worth mentioning, no industry of any kind, and very little else that one thinks of as 20th let alone 21st century, such as electricity. AIDS is now at epidemic proportions.

All this makes for a devastatingly sad illustration of human nature, but it gets worse. In one of the world’s poorest countries, with the world’s smallest and most completely pointless army, the military staged a coup anyway, expelling their king in 1990, letting him come back as an ordinary citizen in 1992, then reinstating him as king in 1995 – his son having been made king in the meanwhile, and then abdicating in favour of his father. After which a mutiny within the military gave the South Africans the excuse to invade in 1998, and since then it has been political mayhem from polling station to polling station, with no less than eighteen political parties fighting it out for the right to rule emptiness, to govern wilderness, to hold sway over the permanently unemployed, and to administer nihil.

Marks for: 0

Marks against: 3

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