Malealea Lodge & Pony Trek Centre
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People & Culture
|People & Culture|
|Arts and Crafts|
The Basotho people have developed a unique culture. As one of the few African tribes living in a mountainous environment, they have made many adaptations to their conditions. The Basotho blanket is one example. All around the country you will see people dressed in woollen blankets, often with beautiful patterns. This is the ideal garment for a cold environment, and also has the versatility of keeping the rain off.
Villages are often located high in the mountains, usually on the mid-levels well above the deep river valleys and the flood dangers they carry. Villages are very structured. They are made up of a number of kraals, i.e. a collection of buildings belonging to one family. Some are for sleeping, some for storage and one for cooking. Each kraal will also have an enclosure for livestock. Each village has a chief, or headman, who will fall under the chief for the area. The Basotho are agriculturalists. The chief allocates the fields around the villages to villagers. Many crops are cultivated including maize, wheat, sorghum, beans and peas as well as vegetables such as onions and cabbage. Many local herbs are also gathered as green vegetables, which the Basotho call Moroho.
Animals are very important in Basotho society. The Basotho pony represents the best form of transport in the mountains, and donkeys are often used as pack animals. Most families will have some cattle, and oxen are used to plough the sloping mountain fields. Wool is a major source of income both from Merino sheep and mohair from Angora goats, and you will see many herds of both deep in the mountains. Shepherds, who are often young boys, look after them. The shepherds live in simple huts called motebo that are often perched on ridges at well over 3000m and very well hidden.
Passing a village you will frequently see a flag flying from a tall pole. This indicates a place where something is being sold. A white flag means "joala", a locally brewed sorghum beer. Yellow means maize beer, red means meat and green means vegetables.
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