THABA-TSEKA – Unlike in cities where everyone, regardless of their gender is given equal opportunities, people in villages are still clinging to traditions where men dominate women.
This is the situation deep in the rural village of Bobete, where former Lesotho Defence Force commander, Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli was born and bred.
Kamoli currently languishes in the Maximum Prison where he was remanded for alleged involvement in a number of criminal activities that comprise murder and attempted.
The crimes were allegedly committed during his tenure of office as the army boss, before his forced retirement.
Kamoli’s home village is located high up in the mountains of the Thaba-Tseka district.
Rural Bobete hosts several, scattered thatched houses with a number of kraals.
Each thatched structure has a specific function from sleeping, cooking to storage.
In this part of the country, kraals are very important as animal enclosures for security as well as protection against harsh weather.
Villagers earn a living through farming which includes selling wool and mohair where countless fields are allocated to each villager for sustainable farming to grow crops including maize, wheat and sorghum.
Shepherds, who are mostly young boys, live far away from the villages in simple huts called Metebo (singular Motebo), often perched on ridges often well over 3000m above sea level, and at times in very well-hidden places.
Boys are expected to imitate their fathers while girls are expected to take after their mothers; like their fathers, boys are expected to herd animals while girls are expected to stay at home, learn chores such as cooking, cleaning and taking care of their siblings, just as their mothers do.
Girls in this village still face early marriage, while boys often abandon mainstream education for traditional initiation schools for young boys.
Households in Bobete, like most rural areas in the country, still rely on biomass such as fuelwood, agricultural residues and dung (predominantly) while other intermediate fuels such coal and kerosene represent a small share of the total domestic energy consumption.
Lack of electricity and clean water is among main challenges Bobete villagers experience.
Villagers walk several kilometres to obtain drinkable water and are forced to wash laundry by the river.
According to one of the villagers Thabang Lechamochamo, villagers travel for hours to obtain clean water and for various other services such as health and education.
“Infrastructure is not in any way near satisfactory and, in order for us to obtain any services, we travel long hours which is very tiring and time consuming,” he said.
According Africa – EU Renewable Energy Research and innovation symposium 2018 by the National University of Lesotho, like many other African countries Lesotho has established rural electrification programmes aimed at bringing electricity to remote rural areas.
Despite serious efforts by the Lesotho Electricity Company and other stakeholders, the proportion of households connected to the grid is still low.
The search revealed that in 2017 about 72 percent of households in urban regions were connected to the grid while the share of households in the rural areas with access to electricity was just 5.5 percent.
Despite all the challenges Bobete villagers face, Kamoli was able to beat the odds and become a man of great power as well as recognition both in Lesotho and abroad.
Kamoli joined the Lesotho Paramilitary Force (LPF), now LDF, at the age of 18 after studying for a bachelor’s in public administration degree with the National University of Lesotho and furthering his studies with the University of Botswana where he obtained a master’s degree in Public Relations.
In 2006, he headed the Intelligence Service of the LDF until 2012, while holding the rank of Lieutenant General he was promoted to commander of the LDF.
All his successes inspired not only his family and friends but the entire neighborhood of Bobet.
One cannot walk past villagers without Kamuli’s name popping up.
Speaking to Public Eye, Kamuli’s childhood friend NATOs Altima said he knew him from an early age and they were quite close though their friendship was often interrupted by Kamuli’s passion for education.
As a result, they spent less and less time together and drifted apart as they grew older.
Altima believes Kamuli was born a leader.
“In his juvenile days he showed enthusiasm, strength and strong leadership skills. He was not like the rest of us. He could lead in most things we did together,” he says. underscoring Kamuli’s strong passion for education.
“Unlike me, he focused more on learning while I herded animals. Our common pleasure was found in singing for the initiates (ho bindle baseman),” Altima said, adding that to date, Kamoli still enjoys that culture.
“I can vividly recall the day he sang the song Pere ha lipalangoe (let’s ride horses). It was a huge hit, popular amongst youths in those days,” he adds.
Apart from his unique singing talent, Letima describes Kamoli as an intelligent and brave young man.
“He was indeed brave and bright, he was able to carry on with his studies while also keeping up with us. I think that’s what set him apart from the rest of his peers,” he says.
Letima could however, not be drawn to reveal much about his childhood friend, except the fact that life led them to different destinations.
He, nonetheless shows that they sometimes met whenever he was in the village for a visit.
“The last time he came here, we went up to the mountains to sing for initiates, and it was clear that like always, he was having a lot of fun,” he recalls.
Apart from that Kamoli has been part of major social development projects initiatives in Bobete like the free sanitary towels campaign for school girls in various primary schools including the Marumo Primary School where he did his primary education in the early seventies.
“The Marumo Primary School we attended with him in those days consisted of a single stone building with a rondavel on the side,” he said pointing to the direction of an ancient stone building that is no longer operational.
“But most of what happened in those days in that old stone house has faded away from my memory due to time.
“All I can clearly recall is that Kamoli continued with his studies until he joined the army. He loved education and his passion paved his way to greatness and the top, that is all I can say about him.”