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Beliefs & customs

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Superstitions, beliefs & customs

By Justinus Sechefo

The following is but a meagre account of the many superstitions, beliefs, customs and practices still common in the different parts of Basutoland. To enumerate them all would be impossible for this would require the help of many of the now unavailable gray heads to call them back to memory; since through the coming of the white man, the belief in Christianity, neglect and disuse, they are almost forgotten or even abused, while to the present generation many of the superstitions are entirely unknown.

However the in-born spirit, traditions, influences and keen interest aroused by listening attentively to folk tales, fables, ghost and witchcraft stories told by grandmothers to their grandchildren at bed time in the hut; and also other peculiar talks among the men at home or in the "khotla" in the evenings about these beliefs and customs; all these must naturally have implanted in the minds of young listeners, deep and not to be shaken impressions about these customs and beliefs. In those days to have doubted the integrity of charms, the binding necessity of certain incisions, the magical powers of the "baloi" evil doers, witches and those of ghosts etc. would have deemed worse than insanity itself.

Poetical and rhymed amusing songs were sung, nursery tales repeated about these beliefs at the hearth by night, and fables were told at bed time by old grannies to their grandchildren, who in every case slept at their houses, in order to shun the abusive slander "ho hloba khoale" to pluck the partridge recklessly or in ordinary. "DO not pamper your children".

Superstitions, fables and nursery tales were then and there related to the little ones. However it must be remembered that fables were not too be narrated during the day time but only at night, these being a strong belief that a mysterious horn would happen to grow on the head of the person who recounted fables during the day time.

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