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Basotho take Heritage into their own hands

Seriti sa Makhoarane Heritage and Tourism Network (SSM) in collaboration with rise  held a first of its kind Built Environment and Heritage Masterclass in Makeneng, a small village in Maseru, Lesotho. This class was held at Makeneng (Matsieng), the royal village of Morena Lerotholi, the second-generation successor of Morena Moshoeshoe I. Architectural heritage specialists from Cape Town; Janine de Waal and Graham Jacobs facilitated the Masterclass and shared their knowledge on the conservation of heritage in buildings.

A combination of people from different disciplines can now help create awareness and help youth in Lesotho with job creation in the Heritage and Conservation spectrum.  The participants and other interested persons now have the opportunity to establish an association of Heritage activists to advocate for issues and causes in Heritage Conservation. This kind of association would also work to publicize and help educate the broader public on how to better appreciate the rich heritage of Lesotho/Basotho. It would also be open to interested persons from various disciplines in order to apply “Kopano ke matla” to Heritage Conservation.

The Masterclass was attended by 20 participants including architects; researchers in Anthropology, students of heritage studies, historians, engineers, construction managers, quantity surveyors, and Makeneng residents skilled in indigenous building techniques such as stone masonry, thatch, and reed fencing.

It was a full house of experts. The Masterclass was held at Makeneng because of its rich built environment, especially when taking into account the previous royal villages of Morena Moshoeshoe I at Thaba-Bosiu and of Paramount Chief Letsie I at both Morija and Matsieng. 

Moreover, a rich and varied oral tradition has been recorded from the elderly inhabitants of Makeneng, allowing a full understanding and appreciation of the linkages between the built environment, archival sources, and living traditions. Finally, its unique architecture, landscape, and terrain give it a special ambiance with spectacular panoramic views to the north and east. Because of its geographical position, being on a dead-end road, it has largely been forgotten but Makeneng is a prime candidate for special recognition.

The Masterclass followed a participatory methodology as it involved knowledge and skills sharing between trainers and trainees. The trainers taught steps to follow to achieve heritage conservation of buildings, while trainees shared their knowledge and skills on Lesotho’s indigenous architecture.

These were all illustrated through practical demonstrations like; How to protect the wall of the Evangelist’s House from further damage using cow dung and mud; Seotloana and Reed screen demonstrations, and many more. The Masterclass explored the importance of not only conserving heritage sites and buildings in Lesotho but the need to preserve and adapt indigenous knowledge systems to create energy-efficient buildings that will be more sustainable and climate-friendly.

About Seriti sa Makhoarane Heritage and Tourism Network (SSM)

SSM is a legally registered association committed to the preservation, presentation and promotion of heritage and tourism associated with the Makhoarane area.  

For more info on this initiative, please contact:

Mr Stephen Gill, +266 5885-8662, [email protected] 

Ms Daniela Gusman, +266 5946-0734, [email protected] 

Mrs Maneo Ralebitso, +266 5801-6984, [email protected] 

Mr Pusetso Nyabela, +266 5886-0884, [email protected] 

  

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