When days were bright, I watched my father laugh with his contemporaries such as late Famo musician, Ntate Hatlane, in the living room or verandah of the Maseru West house I grew up in. Before the laughter and conversations, which sometimes ended with someone walking out, leaving my father huffing and puffing, my mother would tower over pots while I diced tomatoes for the fish and bean salad my father made for her while they lived in the mouth of gentle love.
Soon after that, Ntate’s guests would walk in with lives of their own glaring at you through their smiles or contorted faces. Hugh Masekela’s trumpet, or Caiphus Semenya and Letta Mbulu’s love, would snake from the background, making and colouring home when conversation stopped and all you could hear was fork or spoon to plate, glass to table, a sigh to an almost silence.
A few years later, I find myself chasing the laughter. Pursuing the music. Trying to create the home my home became for some of the best conversations I have heard. Moving intentionally towards making space for sight in a world riddled with grain; a world that has us forgetting that we are each other’s bond and magnitude, as Gwendolyn Brooks reminds us, while also nudging us back to one other. Some of the ways the pursuit has manifested have been me sitting and overlooking the Phuthiatsana river with my friends.
Most recently, it manifested into ‘Mesa.
I have sat and watched a few people talk about the loneliness that comes with thought, and the chaos of knowledge not forming a part of the center in Lesotho; of being artists, thinkers, and wellness enthusiasts in a country whose leadership is dedicated to denying us the proverbial glow. Lesotho denies us a space that centers and nurtures not only us, but the things that make us.
With people as the heart of ‘Mesa — what they think, feel and see — not only do myself and the co-organisers hope that the festival undoes the loneliness by becoming the elevated feeling one gets when in a room with loves, and joy is thick in the air; but that we also change Lesotho’s social engineering. We hope to cater for different generational cohorts by establishing their view and shared experiences and in doing so, develop and build an inter-generational ecosystem rooted in inclusion, accessibility, and love.
Having been engendered by notions of home and community, ‘Mesa looks into Basotho’s indigenous technologies as ways to harvest fellowship and community which we hope shall stretch beyond our two-day program of discussions, readings, live music, yoga, and more.
I hope that it feels like those weekends where my father’s laughter reverberates and cackles through the house. This time with him and those who came before in spirit and us: here, present and imagining, dancing, feeling and Unearthing Tomorrow.
- The inaugural ‘Mesa Festival happened over 2 days during the month of April. Tsebo Phakisi, co-founder, rebel-rouser, and author of this article, is on Twitter.