10 May 2004

Basali (Women)

Mosali (woman), 'mè (mother), mofumahali (lady, Mrs.) ngoanana (girl, maiden), mohatsa (spouse), ausi (sister), morali (daughter) are some of the words we use to talk about women. Women make up about 54% of the total adult population of Lesotho, but remain largely under-represented in the government and private job sectors, although, it must be said, Lesotho is one of only two countries where women actually have a higher literacy rate than men. In other words, in Lesotho more women can read and write than men! This post first appeared in my Lesotho A to Z pages, which is also where I list documents related to women in Lesotho.

I might just want to add that, on a personal basis, I have always been repulsed by a word -- yes, a word -- and an idea that we use in Lesotho to say that an unmarried woman is pregnant. We say, "So and so o senyehile" which literally translates into, "So and so has been spoilt", as in, "Not good anymore." Nothing similar applies to the guy who got her pregnant. I think that's awful, and we should cease using the word and attaching that particular idea to pregnant, unmarried women. Unless, of course, we start calling the guy who got her pregnat "bastard" (I like "bastard". It has a nice ring to it) or something similar. The day we do that I'll tender my sincere apologies to all our national "bastards", and ask them to forgive me for not being aware of their "bastard" status.

What have we got to remember? We've got to remember that in southern Sesotho (Sesotho of Lesotho) "li" is pronounced /di/ and "lu" is pronounced /du/. The word mosali is thus pronounced /mos-AH-di/. We must also remember that 'mè is two syllables, and is pronounced /m-MEH/.

No comments: