30 October 2004

Film called Puleng


Ali's film made under the scheme is called Puleng (which means rain bringer in the African language of Sesotho).

The film has an African storyline which was inspired and informed by her childhood spent in Lesotho, the tiny impoverished country in southern Africa recently visited by Prince Harry.

[ Read on... ]

27 October 2004

Litlhaka tsa mantsoe

SSOETHO: Hnoa le tuhto e reng mohto ea baanlg a ka utliusisa seo a se blaang lhea litlhkaa li se moo re li leebleltesng. Tlahka ea plee le ea ho qeetla tsnoa litlemahile hoba libkaeng tsa tosna. Tuhto eo e enstoe ke ba seoklo se sheolo sa Cabrmidge. Lebkaa leo ba fnaang ka lnoa ke hroe bkoo ba moblai bo utluiissa matnsoe kafoela ha ona, eesng lilthaka tsa manstoe ao.

FARNACIS: Sleon une édtue de l'Uvinertisé de Cmabrigde, l'odrre des ltteers dnas un mtos n'a pas d'ipmrotncae, la suele coshe ipmrotnate est que la pmeirère et la drenèire soit à la bnnoe pclae. Le rsete peut êrte dnas un dsérorde ttoal et vuos puoevz tujoruos lrie snas porlblème. C'est prace que le creaveu hmauin ne lit pas chuaqe ltetre elle-mmêe, mias le mot cmome un tuot.

ELNGISH: Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe

24 October 2004

North Sotho Idiom

AN ANCIENT North Sotho idiom proclaims: '... Mahlaku a maswa a ema ka a matala ....' Directly translated to English it means 'fresh (new) branches sustain themselves through older ones.'
[ Read on... ]

23 October 2004

A Glass of Bubbly

Sip on a glass of bubbly while watching the group perform a repertoire of African music in Xhosa, English and seSotho, complemented by powerful drumbeats and background percussion. The lively beats and spectacular dance routines that are African inspired and combined with contemporary, tap and ballet influences will most certainly have the audience moving in their seats.
[ Source... ]

Sounds great, doesn't it?

21 October 2004

Useful Phrases

I put these useful phrases up some time ago. What I'd like to do, as soon as I get a little time off, is to develop the list into a sort of active and consultable glossary. Perhaps one to which visitors can add their own useful phrases and sentences...

You can also check out out: 'Ngoe, Peli, Tharo, 'Nè and Hlano.

Note that Peli and Tharo use South-African spelling, not Lesotho spelling.

19 October 2004


The SABC says an amount of R200 million has been budgeted for the two regional television channels which the broadcaster plans to launch next year. The channels, to be called SABC 4 and SABC 5, will supplement the existing channels in terms of the language spread. SABC 5 will serve mostly Nguni languages, while SABC 4 will accommodate Sesotho language groups.
[ Source... ]

18 October 2004


Litlhapa means insults, or expletives, or pejorative language. Everybody knows, they are the first thing we learn in a new language. I've noticed, however, that litlhapa are quite different in different languages. The word Mmao /m-MA-oo/, or 'Your Mama,' 'Ta mère' in French, 'Modare to' in Farsi, is one of the few international ones. Say Mmao to anyone in any culture and you get punched in the kisser on the spot.

In Sesotho, Ntata'o, or your father, wouldn't hurt anyone. It would probably draw a bemused chuckle from the victim. But in Farsi, Pedar sag is a common insult. It means 'your father is a dog.' I laughed, the first time. Another one is Pedar sookhtay, or 'your father is burnt.' You can stop laughing now.

Here are some common Sesotho litlhapa:
  • Mmao /m-MA-oo/ : Your Mama
  • Masepa'a Mmao /Mah-SI-pa-A-m-MA-oo/ : Your Mama's shit
  • O tla nyela /Oo-tla-nyela/ : You're gonna shit (i.e.: I'm gonna kick the shit out of you)
  • Molala'a mmao /mo-la-la-A-m-MA-oo/ : Your Mama's neck
  • Bono sa Mmao /BO-no-SA-m-MA-oo/ : Your Mama's ass
  • O oa nyela /o-oa-nye-la/ : You're shitting (i.e.:You're talking crap)
  • Nyo'a Mmao /NYOA-m-MA-oo/ : Your Mama's vagina (The ultimate tlhapa. It's a death wish)
  • Marete a Mmao /ma-re-te-A-m-MA-oo/ : Your Mama's testicles (Paradoxical, yes. We'll go to any lengths to degrade womenfolk, won't we?)
Insults are thus odd. What's more, one person's insults are another's jokes. Whenever someone tells me that my father is burnt, I laugh my ass off. And, I've noticed, the better you speak and control a language, the less its litlhapa are funny. They start hurting. Conclusion: As long as you're laughing at the target language's litlhapa, you still have a long way to go.

07 October 2004

Language Museum - Sotho Sample

This page shows a paragraph in Sesotho and a corresponding one in English.

05 October 2004

The Art of Litema

As is now the custom, I'd like to begin by reminding you that in Sesotho of Lesotho -LI- is pronounced /di/, so that Litema is /di-teh-MAH/. Here's an article from the SABC, South African Broadcasting Corporation:

"The art of Litema comes to life again

September 12, 2004, 13:33
Heritage month started off with a very special event in the Free State this weekend, the re-awakening of Litema, an indigenous art, in Bloemfontein.

Litema is an indigenous art form unique to Basotho houses in the eastern Free State and Lesotho. It is the tradition where women paint a house after it has been built by men. The highly decorative designs are soft and flowing geometric patterns originally coloured with natural pigments, but now done in commercial paint. The art form is more than 300 years old, but it is slowly dying out.

In contemparary times Litema appeared to be a seasonal phenomenon associated with special events such as celebrations and religious ceremonies. It announced births and deaths, weddings or the arrival of Christmas and Easter, and it served as the reminder of the passage of time.

With a grant of R500 000 from the South African national lottery fund to the Central University of Technology in Bloemfontein a handbook on Litema - in English and SeSotho - and documentary archive will be compiled. Commercial artefacts and souvenirs will also be manufactured. However, more importantly, these designs will ultimately appear on a telephone card and on wall tiles - leading to the creation of jobs."
[ Source... ]