Free State Arts and Culture hosts Basotho New Year celebrations, 6 Aug

Delivering her 2016/17 Budget Vote for the Free State department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation, MEC N.S. Leeto said, “Every year we have been celebrating the Basotho New Year at the Basotho Cultural Village. In 2016 we will partner with Traditional Leaders and the Lesotho people to celebrate the Basotho New Year in the villages of Qwaqwa. This also makes a valuable contribution in strengthening our international relations with our neighboring state.”

Statistically, Sesotho is the most common language spoken by 64% of the people of the Free State therefore, its preservation and promotion is very critical in the pursuit of nation building and social cohesion. Languages in general play a critical role in any society and ours is no different. It is for this reason that the department continues to promote and preserve all languages spoken across the province through the department’s Language Services Unit.

This year’s celebration of the Basotho New Year will be staged in collaboration with local Traditional Leaders and will also feature arts and crafts exhibitions, horse demonstrations, cultural performances as well as presentations on traditional harvesting methods.

It is scheduled as follows:

Date: 6 August 2016

Venue: Charles Mopeli Stadium, Qwaqwa

Time: 9h00

The Outreach Programme as an awareness campaign will resume from the 27th to the 31st of July 2016 focusing on various schools around Paul Roux, Bethlehem, Kestell, Harrismith and Qwaqwa who will later form part of the Basotho New Year main Celebration.

Historically, Basotho did not follow the Gregorian calendar, but rather relied on the position of the moon, the natural indicator of seasonal rotation. As most of us have observed, the full moon occurred from the 3rd to the 4th of July, a period characterised in Sesotho as “Ha kgwedi e toloka”. To mark the African New Year, fields are ploughed, and the very first harvest is brought as an offering to Tlatlamatjholo/God.

Basotho New Year is celebrated annually after the last days of Mariha/winter to give way to new life after the dry season. Basotho New Year Celebration starts in August/Phato, known for the blowing winds, clearing Mother Earth and refreshing the ground with showers of Spring.

Speaking about the significance of celebrating this event, MEC N.S. Leeto said, “The event’s highlight will be the parade composed of cultural practitioners, men on horseback, as well as drum majorettes. The Free State Province is rich in its unique and diverse cultures which will be witnessed in this year’s Basotho New Year Celebration. The celebration speaks to our quest to promote social cohesion by embracing all cultures.

It also deepens our drive towards cultural self-awareness in our communities. Only when communities are aware of their history and cultural identities can we be able to build a better society.”

Source: Government of South Africa