All posts by René Paul

King Letsie State Banquet

 

Once a year, His Royal Highness King Letsie II arranges a substantial state dinner. One hundred ambassadors from all around the world are invited to the Kingdom of Lesotho and enjoy the Royal Hospitality and the kindness of the Basotho. Hopefully they will retain a positive attitude towards this small nation and advice their peers to go and have a look at the investment possibilities. My little book, Basotho People at Work will be popped in to the gift pack arranged for each of the dignitaries  and I hope it will help to give them that extra little ‘feeling’ for Lesotho. Just in case it needs something more visual, I had Amichai Thabor, the well known image processor and amazing print specialist, print 10 ~ 400×600 images from the book.The prints are all on 290 gsm Entrada cotton rag from Mohave Paper in the USA.  Forest Frames made some beautiful 800×600 broad white and deep set frames  with all archival double  mount board and we have sent the lot to Maseru. So on the 23rd of November, remember, remember, the royalty and ambassadorial entourages will alight and enter the foyer of the Maseru Sun and encounter 10 large brilliant images of Basotho People at Work. A small but stunning pop-up exhibition of images of Basotho and their daily activities. I want them all to make the tears of emotion that I did when I met these subjects and land-scapes. The exhibition will run from the 22nd to the 24th only. Maseru Sun and Cabanas, Maseru, Kingdom of Lesotho.

http://www.suninternational.com/destinations/casinos/maserusun/Pages/default.aspx

 

 

 

Maseru vew from above
Maseru developing

Mathubathuba & Suzy go to the Snow.

 

I suppose that it all started here, sort of; ~  The 19th of June 1995.

We all wanted to do a Great Off Road Trek. We were comfortable in Mathubathuba and the girls Gaëlle and Gwendolyne, were less so in their SJ410 Suzuki. Lesotho was the original idea for this groot trek but at the time the Basotho Government was full of diplomatic shit and we could not get a visa to go into the mountain kingdom. So we planned to go all around it. And we did, off the tar where ever possible.

Suzuki SJ410
Suzuki ready for the next trek

But before all that we had to complete the first leg of our trip: The Fika Patso week-end with loads of friends and the  Sentinel Mountain Drive. Well you can see the weather that awaited us on the first morning. Land Rovers and Suzukis went up through 1m of snow without flinching. The same cannot be said for other more macho brands. On the higher stretches the snow was as high as my wheels but the Suzy just never seemed to have a problem.  Climbing up a very slippery slope just past the Overhang Krantz, most the cars slipped over to the side of the road, scrambling for chains and pick-axes. The girls in their Suzuki, unaware of the unofficial stop-over, took the gap and flew past everyone to take the lead position. There were some very red faced Toyota and G-Wagon drivers. Especially as Gaëlle only passed her driving license the previous month!

Vehicle Convoy in the snow in Qwa Qwa
Vehicle Convoy in the snow in Qwa Qwa

After that, a complete tour of the enclosed country, driving as close to the border as possible. Very close in some areas… and always a ball of fun.

From Golden Gate the going is mostly tar until Fouriesburg where, from the Caledon Poort road you can find the gravel border road. This comes out halfway to Ficksburg. There are now military roads going through to Ficksburg but you are supposed to have permission to use these. After Ficksburg at Peka you can follow the border on gravel all the way to Maseru Bridge. Turn right there. There is a dirt road from just outside Maseru Bridge that takes you all the way to Hobhouse via De Bruyn Siding and with great views of the Qeme Plateau in Lesotho. From Hobhouse we found it necessary to keep on the tar until Wepener from where great gravel roads lead all the way down to Zastron or even further down to Sterkspruit.

It was here that in 1901 Deneys Reitz and his small band of friends met up fortuitously with the commando of General Smuts who was also heading for a dangerous adventure into the Cape. They were all very lucky to come across a Mnr. Louis Wessels, a local personality and Commandant of a hundred local burgers who lead them through some tricky passages between the English Camps. The Wessels family still farm in the area.

From there on we took to the road towards the border, (which is now a great wide tar road) and turned off right a few yards from the Telle Bridge Border Post towards the Telle River.

Telle River
Telle River Eastern Cape

This exquisite road takes you along the border with Lesotho for some kilometres and you really feel the life of the Basotho with one foot in each country. Villagers wander across the river and herdboys play on either side without concern. The road then climbs up over Lundeans Nek (2226m) not forgetting to salute the most curious Greek  Architecture on the way up:

Bebeza Church
Bebeza Church in the Telle River Valley

it’s 64 km down this magnificent pass to Mosheshe’s Ford, on the Kraai River,where King Mosheshoe was supposed to have driven back the herds of cattle that he re-captured from the marauding Baphuti from the Stormberg in the Eastern Cape.  Keeping left at this junction takes one onto the 27km gravel road to Rhodes.

Moshesh's Ford
Moshesh’s Ford on the Kraai River

A stop over at Rhodes is really unavoidable as the village is so far from each end of the dirt roads that all lead there. However for some reason, our little group decided to push on up and over the highest road pass in South Africa; Naudesnek (2499m) and on to Maclear. Somehow our (my) navigation was off by a couple of hours and we drove to whole pass in the night, freezing and quite full of concern. Not an advisable exercise. Pot River Pass (1755m) follows on from Naudenek and takes you down past King’s Kop to the back end of Maclear.

At that time, the worst road in  Southern Africa, according to all those who dared to drive it was the road from Maclear to  Mount Fletcher. Every few kilometres, the girls called on the radio for a stop as the din in their plastic topped Suzuki was just too much. After a while we gave them the Land Rover and took the wheel of the little red devil. After 20 minutes we called them and said “That’s enough! ~ Never again!” A terrible piece of road in those day but quite a pleasure to drive today, with well designed curves and plenty of width. You can still see many pieces of the old road as you cruise along this new highway.

The following sections of the trek are just as picturesque but quiet long uneventful and good roads: Matatiele to Swartberg on good gravel and then tar to Himeville. There on my excellent favourite gravel road via Taylors Ridge turning right into the Kamberg Nature Reserve and exiting between Draycott and The Nest on the Bergville Road. You can go around the back of the Woodstock Dam on Gravel but we elected to head straight up to Olivierhoekpass (1740m) passing the great Sterkfontein Dam and then left up to Golden Gate and so closing the circuit.

If you do go around the Woodstock Dam, you might meet this creature:

Strange Machine
Woodstock Dam Alien

 

 

 

 

 

 

A New Door Latch

Mathubathuba

 

My landrover was fitted with a new driver’s door latch today.

Her Name is Mathubathuba, after the first son of the second wife of King Setswayo, who was also “bashed in” by a forceps birth.

We have explored four hundred thousand kilometers together, it was the least that I could do, her door was rattling poor girl. They say that this type of vehicle tends to be a little on the dodgy side, unreliable, things break and jokes about them flow freely. I fitted a door latch today, not a head gasket, crankshaft, alternator, axle spider, half-shaft or cigar lighter, nothing visceral. No it was a R40 part and I drove 50 kms there and back to get it. Such is the respect that reigns between us. I scratch her back and she gets me home.

She got me home from the Magalliesburg with a broken half-shaft. Not her fault poor lass, I must have changed gear badly. She brought me home from Lesotho with TWO broken half shafts. Only a disgustingly bad driver could do that even if we crossed a 16 km mountain pass that took three days and sixteen river crossings.
She drove home from The Roof Of Africa Race with no clutch at all. Border crossings and all! What a darling. Last month we made it back from The Lesotho Sky MTB Race with no steering hydraulics. Home. Not stuck in a ditch somewhere far from an expresso coffee. Land Rovers do that. (Although mine has her own expresso coffee on board).

A door latch was a little luxury that she deserved. So of course was the rebuilt (to race level 1 specifications) engine at 200,000 km, the new stainless steel, free flow racing exhaust, the rebuilt gearbox at 150,000 km and at 350,000 km, the new half-shafts all around, the new hand wound custom made alternator, the new steering box and all hydraulics at 250,000 and at 390,000, the new bonnet at 395,000, wheels at 300,000, the new pneumatic locking differentials on both axles, with twin air compressors, the twin Delco 105 amp hour batteries and the 80w solar panel and on board charger. New suspension bushes everywhere, twice, new shock- absorbers and springs and new wheel bearings and seals. Upgraded head lights, Cibie spot lights and a bull bar to match with a hydraulic winch and especially imported 150 psi auxiliary pump to drive it.
Who would not disburse such minor expenses on such a reliable lady of the road?
And they say that Land Rovers are unreliable. Poppycock! All you have to do is to spoil them a little and they will always return your love. My Mathubathuba loves me.

Basotho People at Work ~ The Story of the Book

There was no great plan or ‘skeleton’ of my book. In about the year 2004 I began to collect images and categorised them into various aspects of life in Lesotho; Transport, agriculture, industry etc.

These themes were all put together into a very rough mock-up.The software for this cost 12 quid in London. Being a trader at heart, my first thought was for sales material to help sell the project.

One miserable winter day in June 2009, having nothing better to do, I went to the book launch of “Then and Now”. This is an anthology of images taken before and after 1992 by South Africa’s top photographers. There I met the editor Riaan De Villiers, of Highveld Press. He edited that book and of course he knows all the contributing photographers. When I showed him my mock-up, he said that we must publish. We did, in November of that year. The skeleton may have appeared somewhere between these two events but it must still be locked in a cupboard.

We spent three months working on the layout of the book. A large amount of time and thought was spent on the format! The 2 dimensional proportions were discussed and thrashed around more that you would think is possible. Then the weight, the number of pages and therefore the number of images. After weeks of cross-thinking we were able to look at the selection of images. I think this was only in September and we had to be on the shelves in November! Riaan re-designed his office, juggled around his staff and installed special daylight balanced lighting so that we could re-grade all the “RAW” files of the images together and not farm out. He did most of it at night, un-disturbed by staff and the nuisance of light filtering in though special blinds had been installed for the project.

At last we could begin the final selection of images. We still had 200 (out of thousands) and needed to reduce the number to about 80. Pages, weight, rhythm, tedium attention span; I had no idea that these things were so important in a book of pictures. We took two weeks working with one of the top book designers in South Africa, Tim Sheasby, to put the book together and find it’s “handle”. Difficult to describe the feeling on that last day of October when the final Pdf file was set via FTP to Lawprint in Midrand. The excitement did not abate as Riaan and I visited the printer daily. We were to check each batch of “pulls”; the eight page – A1 sheets pulled from the giant off-set litho Leidenburg 12 station printing press. Each pull was carefully scrutinised by the master printer and checked in great detail. It appeared that Riaan grading of the images had been precise; only very slight adjustment of the “blacks” was required before the presses were set in motion for the main run.

A week later the first books were in our hands with that unmistakeable ‘fresh-off-the-press smell’.

Basotho People at Work was in the shops in November 2009, as planned.

Basotho People at Work
Basotho People at Work

A bunch of lonesome heroes.

 

 

Gaelle,David, Ben and Jo are in Malealea this week-end. Tomorrow all four ride out in a possie for a whole days ride up to a village in the mountains. They will eat and drink and talk with with the shepherd village and Chief Khotso. You can see Ntate’s Khotso’s Merino goats in my book. Sleep in a goatsherd hut with mice and little chickens running around inside that hut. Pigs snorting outside! When you get back to the lodge after another full day’s ride with the lovely smell and sweat of the ponies and their leathery tack and the aromas from the pastures, cattle and oxen which envelope you as you pass, you will not like the smell of the tourists!!!

A bunch of lonesome and very quarrelsome heros….

Hunter/Gatherer/Tourist

My sister has an Art Gallery ~ Shop in the Island of Jersey. She sells only genuine local and regional art and products. The shop is called  Rococo Art and Gifts.

In a recent interview with BBC Radio Jersey, my sister Chantal raised an interesting issue, which has actually been with we ‘aware touristico’s’ for a long time.  Why do tourists want to buy local products?

There is of course the obvious ” wish you were here” sentiment of the postcard. Then the more serious thought of “by what will I remember this ‘quite-expensive-never-to-be-repeated-chance-of-a-life-time’ event. So many complex ideas may pass through the mind of a time strapped tourist.

The answer that springs to settle the anguish of the travelling mind is usually: LOCAL STUFF.  ~ We are not really looking for exotic parrots with arabic and Andean languages on it’s CV to take home ‘en souvenir de’ our visit to Brighton. Not if we are honest.   A real swirly stick of  uneatable sticky stuff will do the trick. And I would suggest even more so framed rather than digested.

So where to from here? Well the “BUY LOCAL” is the way to go. Especially if the Jersey Cabbage stick, from my 2002 trip, sits nicely in my 12′ x 12′ studio alongside my ‘Malamu’ shepherds stick from my  1972 Lesotho adventure.

Many artists are finding their way out of the cities and unemployment and taking up the ‘career they should always have pursued’ and in so doing are making a suppliers market. Their ingenuity, creativity and volumes are literally making markets and creating a new potential “Souvenir” trade. As it were and as it used to be.

How many of us travel south to buy the Calissons of Aix en Provence or north for the Betises de Cambrai? Or West to Marina Grande for their pure cobalt designs on porcelain tiles and glorious flowing forms of hand-made glass. No. We are all too aware of our “Carbon Foot Print” although I still cannot find a souvenir shop with one for sale.

I think that the cost of petrol is passant in this issue. If you visit the sacred caves of the sangomas of Mautse Valley, who have been practising their cult and craft there since before the Israelites did the Nile Cruise, do you want to find plastic korean Dagga pipes in the souvenir shop? So, the enlightened everyone wants to take home a fragment of the real local energy that will remain with them forever. It’s part of our primitive “adventurer ~ no-one has been here before” ~ hunter-gatherer thing. Good for basic us.

Rene Paul Gosselin
Johannesburg
2012
Sand Painting ~ The Grinder
The Daily Grind Of Tourism

water moving me

I have just had 5 ~ 35mm negs printed by someone who is probably one of the worlds best hand print (silver nitrate) artisans; Dennis Da Silva. 45 years in the dark room. It has taken 3 years of experimentation and hesitation for me to have the courage to present some of my work to him. I suppose you could compare this to preparing a visit to the Delai Lama and your philosophy is still “unconcerned, but thinking about it”. Pending.
When I captured the images of water moving through Lions River in the Natal Midlands I had a sort of funny feeling. Electric, emotional and palpitations over-ridden by my energy to just make more and more images whilst the light was good. When the negatives came from the lab and looked at some of them on the soft-box – the same feelings came back.

But when the final prints ~ 16″x 20″ came out of Dennis’s dark room, I nearly fainted, so strong was the electricity. Hydro-electricity.

Water.

Water movement
Lions River

Malutis on a Horse

The ‘Luti’ is a person from up. The Basotho are the people from down. Hence the Maluti Mountains are full of ‘Baluti’, Mountain People – I would rightly or wrongly presume. These are the kind of discussions that you have time for when riding up (Holimo) from down (Tlase). And when there is such a substantial difference between down there and up here I can understand why the concept is so important.  

Crossing the Makhaleng River, en route for Ha Joba.

Climbing away from the great Makhaleng River, forded at Ha Joelle near the confluence of the Ribaneng River, the great towering pyramid of Lekhatje, appears as though directly imported from Egypt. We have already crossed twenty brown lines on my 1:50.000 ordinance survey map. That is five hundred meters by the time we reach Ha Monaheng, the little village perched on the edge of this strangely shaped mountain. This is the gateway to the Thaba Putsoa range, a vast chunk of the highland mass of this very mountainous Kingdom of Lesotho. We are ‘holimo’ and there is more to come. Lesotho has the highest ‘low point’ in the world and the highest peak in Southern Africa; Thabana Ntlenyana at 3481m.

This journey was conceived more that two years ago, while riding with friends from Malealea Lodge to Semonkong and back over a more northerly part of the same range. After five days it was decided. I would do a longer journey but on my own. You can’t submit good friends to the whims of a photographer. So plans where drawn up over the previous year and here it was, day one and we are already high up through the first part of the range. At this point the narrow bridal path is near the 2000m contour and is just a scratch on the side of the precipice. Half a kilometre below our hooves is the fabulous  ́Masemouse River and our first waterfall is in the shadows of a  looming nimbus. Lunch intervenes co-operatively and the horses begin what is to be an orgy of grazing. The grasses are diverse and the quality is apparently to their great satisfaction.

It is for this reason that the villagers from far below send their herd boys up into the mountains at this time of the year, when grazing has become depleted in the lowlands. Everywhere we are to pass small thatched round huts built as temporary shelters for the shepherds. These ‘motebò’ are always perched on the highest point and command extraordinary views of the mountains and the valleys. It is from there that the boys watch over their herds and there they sleep with a threadbare blanket on grass beds. The boys and young men from the higher parts are tough and close to nature. They live on very little food and are barely clothed. A blanket and wellington boots is all between them and the snow sometimes.  Later we will meet herd boys in the lowlands in Reeboks and designer shirts and wearing headphones attached to their mobile ‘phone. It’s that difference again.   

For now the clouds have moved along their path and we can find ours. The first waterfall pictures in the can, we head for Lekhalo-la-Tlama (The Pass of Obligation) and the hard climb to Ha Jobo Nthoana, where the charming young chieftainess  ́Me Masekhobe Nthoana greets us and shows us a flat spot with good grass and water. What else would three weary horses and two tired trekkers need. Well, tea would be good. My guide and friend, Phakané tends to the mounts and tack and I put on the kettle.

́Me Masekhobe Nthoana

From here on we leave the beaten bridal path for the not so well trodden goat trails and they get thinner. Somehow these routes cling to the edge of the mountain and it seems that they could fall off at anytime and so could we. Our direction always south-easterly, follows the lay of the valleys. At the top of the next one a strange man appears to stand out from the cliff face; it is a large standing stone – ‘Fika-la-Motho’. Over the pass and down again into the valley is a vast marsh, flat and luminescent with lush grasses and streams on every azimuth. Like good children they all find their way past the village of Qhoasing and into the mother river of the same name. The Morena’s (Chief’s) wife  ́Me Maté gratefully accepts our 20 Maluti note and sends boys to show us the camping ground outside the village. The boys tend to the horses for a few left-overs of papa and beans. 

Qhoasing Falls

The hospitality of the Basotho  is well known and has been a cornerstone of Lesotho nationhood since the Great King Moshoeshoe. If the traveller is well looked after by the villagers, it will be safe for the villagers to travel themselves. A good premise for civilised mobility which is so vital for life in Lesotho. So it is to expected that the Morena will want to have you close by. You are his responsibility. This camp site has everything you want on such a journey. The village is just out of sight over the hill, so the children visit but do not outstay their welcome. There, twenty meters away is a fresh stream of crystal clear mountain water that does not come from anywhere near the village. It is a five minutes walk to a river deep enough for a swim. In front of our small amphitheatre pasture are the objects of our desires; The Qhoasing falls and a majestic view of the valley and mountains of central Lesotho and a clutch of cathedral-like cliffs just made to catch the setting sun. The rain comes to order once the camp is set-up and the evening repast is over. Phakané and I don’t find our tents; instead stand with our tea cups staring in silence at the spires through the rain mist. The regular pitter-patter of the rain drops falling from the easterly nimbus is a surreal poetry of sound. New clouds slide in from the north, larger and darker, to change the light and our senses. The regular rhythm of the rain drops on the tent is now syncopating with a new drummer, the northern drops hit “pluck” – “pluck” as the second rains begin. It is raining twice.

The third dawn rises on a tough ride ‘holimo’ and even further away from the main trails. Phakané shows his small horse Alex much mercy by zigzagging up the more difficult slopes. My horse, known as “Braai Pack” at the lodge but quickly renamed Matla (Power), is shown the idea but he declines and races up the straight line to the top. He is not even out of breath and I can sit at the top of the next lekhalo (pass), take pictures and wait for the small caravan to catch up. There are a lot of ups and downs in this business and the ride between camps is a hard 6 or 7 hours. Today takes us down to the village of Ha Matekane, a mill, a clinic and an airstrip serve the whole valley. The noise and wind change our tack however and we look for a camp further on. Good decision; 1 km out of ‘town’ is the Majapereng river and an idyllic camp site. 

A pair of black ducks seem to own the place. A male masked weaver is building yet another nest over the river, waiting for the approbation of his spouse. Malachites play in the late sun and tickle at a few samples of the mass of flowers that adorn the opposite river bank. Our side is flat and grassy, as ordered.  The name of the river and the village far upstream, means “The place where a horse was eaten”, obviously referring to times of famine. This evening the horses are tethered on shorter ropes.

The morning brings another day of sunshine and the horses have eaten well but have not been consumed. Grateful for this small mercy we clamber on upwards, ever upwards. And then down of course and that is actually the harder bit. Horses do not like going downhill. Nor do my knees but if this rider was to consider that the horse is in fact walking on his middle finger and finger nail, he might have more compassion for his mount. And that brings us to the next down bit. Very down. 

The 700m descent into the Ketane Valley

The trail we have chosen to follow to the Ketane Valley is not well known outside the local villages and even they don’t like it. Past the Quorong River and its magnificent cascades and over the hill to Ha Oesi where we receive our first warning; – “You can’t take a Lekhooa (European) down there” they say to the guide. Well Phakané did and we lived to tell the tale of a 700 meter slide down a goat trail of zigs and zags, each less than a horse length and each dropping a mans height. Matla was breathing down my neck as I led him down this terrible path, both of us slipping on our bums at every turn. Of course you learn to lean back when going downhill on a horse. Well, you must remember not to do that when walking downhill. Phakané led the way with Alex and controlled Thaba Ntso, the poor pack horse, somehow managing far better than Matla and I. The decent took two hours but the much awaited shade and water of the village at the bottom was a great disappointment. Ketane village is the last development at the top of the Ketane valley. It is also known as Ketane Ha Letele after the Morena of that name. A friendly inhabitant attempted kindly to find a suitable camp site and water supply but there was none to be had. The ground was ploughed and the stream came right through the village. No shade either and no grass for the ever hungry horses. The worst news possible was that there is a Maphato (initiation school) on the river and we cannot go past it, so no access to the great Ketane Falls from here.

Ketane Falls

I was to regret the next decision. As the conditions were not favourable at the village and because the next waterfall could only be viewed by climbing another mountain on foot, I ordered the retreat. Another trail of what was to turn out to be equal in pain to the previous descent was indicated. “Very short” said the kind villager, not wanting to discourage us from departing. So for another two hours we slogged back up the mountain. Tired to the extreme we summited at Selomong (The place of the Precipice) into a beautiful, high valley and one of the best camps I have ever seen; near the village of Morena Mathias and his sweet lady Georgina. This is Ha Hlalele and no problem sleeping that night and no hungry villagers scouring the valley for plump horses. We are a few hundred meters from the head of one of Lesotho’s most spectacular waterfalls – Ketane Falls. The hundred meter single drop falls is hidden from view by a narrow and contorted gorge. To view the falls at all it is necessary to descend a long, precipitous and slippery path. The place breathes vertigo. All other attempts to improve the angle of view proved to be fruitless. In hindsight it would appear that the best view would be from that damned mountain that I declined to approach from “down” at Ketane yesterday! Too late now that we are “up” again.

Below the Ketane Falls

And more ‘holimo’ to come, this time turning west again in the direction of home. The six and a half hour ride from Ha Hlalele to Ribaneng is mostly climbing over the very heart of the Thaba Putsoa range. With hardly any trace of a trail, this is definitely ‘off the beaten track’. Following the contours and the sun we picked our way through the valleys of marshy ground covered with a hundred shades of green and over the stony passes, clumping hooves and scraping shoe iron over the basalt rocks. The air is still all day, disturbed only by the whistle of the robins, and the rock-jumpers, the shriek of the Jackal buzzard and our own caravan noises. The gods of the pony trek have watched over this little train and kept the rain away every day until we were tucked up in our tents. Every morning the sun dried the rain or dew from the canvas and brightly lit the scene for my records.

Ketane Valley from Ha Hlalele

The last two hours of the passage of this mountain range is downhill and end with the infamous ‘Slide-your-ass-pass’ – known to the Basotho as Lekhalo-la-Seli (The pass of Wisdom) and it is wise to heed this name. The decent is long and tiring and mistakes come easily, especially at the end of the day. The last part of the pass is steep and winding, every corner presents a new challenge for the horse and rider. But Oh the reward is great for those who make this effort; The Ribaneng River and its’ winding and well treed valley greet the weary traveller with promises of lush camp sites and sweet water. The horses smell the grass and water and hurry on to a large copse of giant white poplars, tightly planted to shield from the sun but carefully arranging themselves around a small clearing, prompted by the trek gods to make space for a dozen campers. Tea is required.

The days work is not done ‘though. It needs a 45 minute hike with all the camera gear on my back, (the horses are out to graze), to see the Ribaneng River flying over the escarpment in it four high steps down to the valley floor. The herders have blocked the path nearer to the falls, on this side of the river, but the views here from 300 meters are good. Too close to the cliffs and you cannot see the full extent of the fall. Even from here only one drop is visible. To get closer would require returning to camp and starting another hour long walk on the other side of the river or bashing madly about in the cheche bush and the sun is about to set.

Ribaneng Valley

We are camped ‘tlase’ again, the lowest since we last crossed water at Ha Joelle and the mosquitoes make an appearance.

The next morning is as dry as a bone and the valley is the same. The closer we get to crossing our path at the Makhaleng River, the more dust and dry grass we see.

Returning over the Makhaleng River

There has been a break in the rainy season and the herds will have to up to the mountain grazing soon. Our animals on the contrary are keen to go the other way. Smelling the oats at 20 kilometres, they pick up the pace. I want Phakané to shoot a few frames from the far side of the river but Matla does not want to wait. The stables are close and Matla shows off with a fast triple through the villages and up to the lodge. Just for fun we race back out of the main gate and down the road again, full of beans, then triple quickly back through the gates.

René Paul Gosselin – Fouriesburg January 2010

Basotho People at Work

About the Book ~ Basotho People at Work

Basotho People at Work Front Page the book
Basotho People at Work

 

FOR THE best part of a decade, businessman turned photographer René Paul Gosselin has been increasingly drawn to the remote mountain kingdom of Lesotho.

Gradually, he has learnt that, rather than chasing people and scenes, he should ‘wait quietly by the roadside’, and his subjects will eventually arrive by themselves.

This approach has resulted in a stunning set of photographs depicting the lives of a people who, while fundamentally at peace with themselves and their environment, are constantly at work: ploughing, reaping, threshing, winnowing, milling, weaving, and tending their livestock.

They include images of a gathering of hundreds of Basotho horsemen in the remote central highlands, held under the auspices of their paramount chief, to discuss grazing rights and other vital land use issues – the first ever taken of this spectacular annual event.