The Basotho New Year has always been a time of renewed growth and change in the Kingdom. As the traditional Basotho calendar is based on the monthly cycles of the moon’s phases (lunar calendar), Basotho welcome the new year at a different time each year.
This year, the New Year was welcomed between the end of July and the start of August. Basotho used celestial bodies to provide the basic standards to determine the periods of their calendar and this was dependent and changed with the cycle of the moon.
The first is called ‘Hae kena fifing’ (when it [the moon] enters into darkness). The second phase is a crescent moon known locally as ‘Hae thoasa, e entse lenala la pele,’ (when it [the moon] shows the first nail). The third phase being ‘Hae entse Lehare’ (when it [the moon] displays a razor blade). When the Moon has a waxing crescent shape it is a manifestation that a new year has finally dawned.
The moon plays an important role in farming as its position is a natural indicator of seasonal rotation. The Basotho New Year is viewed as a time of great renewal on the ground and in the fields, with cold winter conditions giving way to the growth of a warm springtime. Celebrations start in August (Phato) as the winds come to clear away the winter and prepare the land for the rainy season.
Basotho often welcomed the new year with rituals such as ‘Mokete wa leoa’ to thank the forebearers and God for their harvest. The New Year is an important time for Basotho as it presents an opportunity for great introspection for their actions, and an opportunity to show gratitude for the endowments received within the year.
As Basotho prepare to cultivate their first crops, ReNOKA calls on everyone to pay attention to the yields that they are getting.
Through farming methods practised by those before us, it is possible to revive the lands for them to prosper once again. Achieving higher crop yields starts with everyone. Through diversifying crops, keyhole farming, terrace farming and weeding out alien plants, land can be protected and restored!
As Basotho, we can use this period of introspection to question our methods and find the best ways to improve the health of our land. The more we take care of this most precious resource, the more it will take care of us. Celebrate this Basotho’s New Year by being part of the growth and change that springtime brings. Remember, we are a river- what we do comes right back to us.
To all Basotho, Happy New Year!
From your family at ReNOKA
ReNOKA (‘we are a river’) is a national programme and citizen movement for the restoration of land and water in Lesotho and the Orange-Senqu basin. Support for ReNOKA is provided through a partnership between the Government of Lesotho, the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The EU and BMZ contributions are implemented through a technical assistance project “Support to Integrated Catchment Management in Lesotho” by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.
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National ICM Coordinator, ICM Coordination Unit
GIZ Programme Manager, Support to Integrated Catchment Management (ICM) in Lesotho
‘This publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Its contents are the sole responsibility of the Integrated Catchment Management unit and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union or the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)’