We passed through village after village where life was going on – funny how so often in African villages the routines never seem to change. If you didn’t consult your calendar, you would have trouble working out whether it was the weekend or not. Men always sit under trees or close to bars and drink, there are always women cleaning clothes or cooking pots, kids either doing chores up at the water pump or carrying wood or shopping or containers from A to B, or else when you pass by they are distracted from their games and grin and wave. Only the increased amount of church or mosque could indicate what day it was.
As well as the dozens of villages, we also passed through several towns; Maputsoe, Hlotse and Butha Buthe. This last one was a substantial city which contrasted strongly with Maseru, and shows why in my line of work why you should escape the capital. The types of people I tend to have meetings with are going to be government officials or heads of agencies and NGOs. Their offices are either large brick or concrete blocks in the centre of the city, or leafy compounds, or grand villas in the upper class suburbs of the city. Apart from the little pieces of ordinary capital life you get as you drive by, you get a very distorted image of the country. You can start believing that the capital is the only thriving location – everyone in the rest of the country either longs to travel there or has already migrated. While the little villages and towns may seem like little hick locations in comparison to the capital city, I can see the civic pride in some of the larger provincial cities like Butha Buthe that sort of say “Yeah, Maseru is the capital, but who needs all that hassle when we have everything we need here”. Butha Buthe has that air about it, even from the vignettes you observe in the ten minutes or so it takes to drive through.