Writse: Theko Tlebere
Let me tell you a story…. When I got a message from the Anchor informing me that The Silo is celebrating ten years in July, I couldn’t believe it, I was in my own English ‘Supercalifrajalistically’ perplexed. Hence I gracefully accepted his request for me to share with you the flamboyance of The Silo during its infant stages and how I became Sesiu and The Silo became me. And this is how it goes;
It all started as a far-fetched dream, I remember so well that at some point we wanted to name it ‘Lentsoe la Lihoai’, there were categorically numerous names that came across. But there was one common thing that we agreed on as we were brainstorming about the name… that the newspaper will strictly focus on Agricultural Development. It was supposed to be a hub, a reference tool that all Basotho who want to engage in Agriculture would refer to. To tell you the truth, I wasn’t happy about this new innovation, though I never said a word to my boss. The reason was I had been writing about political issues for some time, under the same roof, same company but a different name and now I was supposed to make an absolute U-turn and focus on something new and innovative, something that no one in Lesotho had ever tapped on.
I can recall so well that the name that sprouted first on that lousy day was the Sesotho version, “Sesiu”. The whole concept started making sense, and a framework emanating from the core meaning of Sesiu was built. I for one, being Hlotse boy never had experience of keeping food in a Sesiu, but I knew that Sesiu is a grass container usually constructed by the Basotho which is used as a container and a big storage for various produces by grain farmers, in particular it is used as a container for maize, sorghum and wheat. I still remember this incidences so well even today, because Sesiu was like a first born for me. And for the record this is when life began for me, since I was a fresh graduate-elect from the National University of Lesotho who had not even gotten their results.
If my memory serves me right, we build on the concept, and our first stop was at Nedbank Lesotho Limited, hence the first interview with Mr. Fusi Notoane set the bar for all Financial Institutions to participate in agriculture today. Notoane had just came back from Zimbabwe, where he spend about two years with Nedbank Zimbabwe and learned the ups and downs of financing agriculture.
That day we put on our best suites with ties, I remember I had this olive green shirt and tie that I loved so much and there we were thirty minutes earlier and waiting to present to a panel of more than four senior managers of the Bank. We gave out best power-point presentation, and the panel was impressed with the concept but they did not have anything to offer us at that time. We went out of there with our heads held up high, because we could see in them that one good day they will realize the need to give us a niche over other local newspapers.
Our next stop was the Headquarters of the Lesotho National Wool and Mohair Growers Association (LNWMGA) where we met, what would immediately assume a role as my mentor and father, ntate Lefu Lehloba. He quickly understood the concept and even made a request on our behalf to the Chairman Mr. Mokoenehi Thinyane to meet some of the Members of the National Executive committee, and the founding fathers of the association, namely; The late Mojalefa Lephole, Nkone Phiri, Talima Molapo and Kobokholo Ramashamole .
After our presentation which was well received by all, we were not only ordered by the apex of the association to research and publish news that shall give a true picture of the industry’s status quo but also to strive in building and making the farmer’s voice be heard.
It was at this point that I was able to interview the first Chairman of LNWMGA Ntate Moholo Mojalefa Lephole whom the conference hall was later named after. Well, I made a lot of friends among the executive and the rest of the members through various interviews I made with them. They would humble me by giving me an exclusive invite to their shows, their kraals and many other activities they held. I remember one instance where I was invited to Mokhotlong to cover one of the important activities of the association. Because of the relationship and mutual trust we had with the association, I could not miss that event for anything, hence I had to board a Bus at 6:00am to Mokhotlong. It should be noted that at the time, the publication was using public transport or horses to cover stories in the highlands of the Mountain Kingdom. It was such an experience that not even working for Government or inter-governmental organizations would give me. I should reiterate that this is the time when Sesiu started making waves and its presence was felt. All thanks to all cadres from the LNWMGA.
The highlight of my stay at The Silo is when we made a request to Ntate Mohato for an interview, just when it was approaching his 47th birthday celebrations. I am sure some of you did not hear that, I am saying His Majesty King Letsie III granted us an interview about his life in agriculture. I am still proud that I was part of that history because The Silo was the first media house to do an interview with Your Majesty. We did this even before the state media that only woke-up to interview him when he turned 50 years of age. Our interviews were at the palace in Matsieng, at the cattle post in Mantšonyane and Semonkong focusing only on his agribusiness life. The hours I spent that day with Ntate Mohato are most valuable moments that would never be expunged in my era at The Silo. There is one last memory that I want to share that we did with my other colleague whom I called ‘Moratuoa’, we were tasked to make a radio advert for the paper, and it was the best audio advert I have ever made and heard.
My message to all readers, is that, it was not a tranquil ten years, there were turbulences, waves and smooth sailing moments, hence we are here today celebrating ten years. I personally do not believe it myself but it is true, The Silo has grown and it is continuing to promulgate. Thank you Mr Tjonane Matla for letting me be part of the birth of The Silo, I will remain part of the Silo family till eternity.
Kannete kea leboha Thaka’ka. Sesiuuuu!!!