MASERU – The Minister of Tourism, Environment and Culture, Advocate Lekhetho Rakuoane, has embarked on an offensive charm to visit tourist attraction sites in the country, in a bid to find the economic prospects they could offer.
The minister believes that tourism can be one way of rolling back shocking levels of poverty in Lesotho, especially in the rural communities where hunger is rife.
With proper planning, Advocate Rakuoane contends that the country can readily turn around its fortunes and cut the shocking levels of unemployment.
He says Lesotho is blessed with great attraction centres that can lure both local and international tourists to resuscitate the frail economy.
He notes that the Ha Kome Cave Village is one of the best tourism attraction centres that could help transform the economy.
The unique rural village is situated in the Pulane area in the Berea district. The caves were a hideout for the Basia and Bataung clans during the Lifaqane Wars and the cannibalism era.
Advocate Rakuoane says there is still a rich culture of Basotho that tells the lifestyle of the real Basotho that needs to be tapped from the settlement.
Last week, the minister visited the centre and bore witness to what it holds for Basotho in terms of culture, heritage and history.
He said the place is rich with history in that there are still some traditional utensils such as a maize grinder (leloala la Sesotho), clay pots, clay and wooden spoons and many more being used in the cave village.
The inhabitants of the place still use animal skins as their bedding, something that is quite uncommon in today’s life.
During his tour, the minister mingled with the residents of the village and participated in some of their recreation activities including cattle racing, which he found quite adventurous as well as challenging.
Basotho, he said should protect their heritage and culture before selling them to other nations, adding that they have a lot to be proud of as a people.
“It is not normal to see goats following people because they are the most defiant domestic animals,” the minister says.
His journey, he showed is still long as he has to find more similar places so that Basotho could know about them, adding it is critical that they visit such places.
“I have already travelled to several places, but I still have to visit more,” he noted. The Kome Cave Centre is operated by an outfit called Leseli Tours. The Director of the body, Rethabile Morake, said despite the beauty of the place itself, they have also organised the community in the area to allow the visitors to ride their ponies for a fee.
“We have also appealed to the community to organise carts pulled by cattle to move tourists around the place. “This may sound odd to some people but others really enjoy it,” Morake said.
He only started running the centre towards the end of last year when the country was already grappling with the complexities of COVID-19 pandemic. This means foreigners have not been able to visit the centre since he took over control of the place.
“We try to empower the residents of the area so that they could have some form of revenue generated through the center. This will in turn make them love it,” he said, adding that the descendants of the clans that reside in the caves have a rich history to share with the tourists, like how they winded up in that place.
The history, he said dates back to 1824 when the founder of the Basotho nation King Moshoeshoe I left Botha-Bothe for the sanctuary of the Thaba-Bosiu plateau.
“There are great prospects that this place could contribute significantly towards changing the lives of Kome communities for the better.”