Labophilani Kometsi Nthona is a lawyer and mediator by profession. She is a mother to the EbaPhuthi children and learned Isiphuthi; her local dialect at the age of 24, with the intentions of passing the language on to her kids. She is also a member of Libadla le baPhuthi; a registered NGO whose main objective is to highlight the cultural diversity of Lesotho. Libadla has been negotiating with the Government of Lesotho since 1966 on the recognition and inclusion of EbaPhuthi in issues of language and chieftaincy. She has established the women’s branch and encouraged EbaPhuthi women to resuscitate their culture and dress.
Through her advocacy skills she has held public gatherings to create awareness of the minority ethnic groups in Lesotho. She also uses social media as a platform to create this awareness and mobilizes for the inclusion of Isiphuthi and other ethnic minorities in decision making.
She is a mother to two beautiful girls; one aged 8 and the other aged 5 and a cute 3 years’ old boy. They all speak their mother tongue. But Labophilani says one major challenge persists. This challenge is that since Isiphuti; her mother tongue is not taught in schools; her children cannot learn in their own language. It’s also a challenge for the parents teaching them how to write the language as there is no literature to refer to in the country and outside. IsiPhuthi is classified as an endangered language by UNESCO thus close to extinction and that bothers Labophilani a great deal.
In her words “from my perspective, Lesotho is not celebrating the cultural diversity it has. Since it has come across as homogeneous for more than 50 years since its independence, other minority ethnic groups shy away from being associated with their true culture due to embarrassment of not understanding their culture and speaking their language. I wrote this open letter to her majesty the Queen last year, on the last day of Women’s month. I asked her to intervene in the apparent exclusion of the minorities in Lesotho. I didn’t get any response till date. I hope the contents of the open letter do address most of the questions asked.
Labophilani is a lawyer whose husband recently bagged a PhD. She says “education has really enlightened me in so many respects. It has first exposed me to knowledge that I was not privy to. It has given the confidence to voice out my opinions. I have come to appreciate the Lesotho saying that goes ‘Thuto ke lebone’ loosely translated ‘education is the light’. With the education, skills and knowledge women like me have, I am challenged to pass it on to uneducated women through trainings on pertinent issues and put in place what my best friend Thato Mochone calls One teach One. She-LEAPS University is also doing a great job in knowledge sharing. There is still hope and if we as women join hands, we can together change today’s world for the better”. In deed educating a woman is educating the whole nation.
In conclusion Lapophilani says “Giya Boga, Giya Bonga,Ndiyabolela, Thank You!