Khutliso Rankoe – Lesotho

Khutliso Rankoe – Lesotho

Date: June 30, 2015
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The first memory Khutliso  Rankoe  had with Gender Links was when it was time for M&E forms to be submitted. They were just too many, and very difficult as he could not read and write, but thanks to GL staff who helped him, he was able to fill in all the forms. He was able to participate in the workshop, and particularly remembers a quiz on the SADC gender protocol. He knew nothing about it, but it turned out that he got all of the questions right! He still knows those questions by heart today.

Khutliso comes from a very rural place in the Mafeteng district, and he spent his youth in the mines of South Africa. He could not go to school, as his mother forced him to go and work after his father’s death. While he was still in the mines, his wife passed on and he was retrenched at that time, making life very difficult for him, as he had to take care of his children. He decided to open a tuck-shop in the back room of his house. He sold beer, and people could not believe him, and said his business was for women. But he knew what he wanted as a man.

The fact that he did not know how to read and write was not making his life any easier, but he had to move forward, and most of the men in his village befriended him. They wanted to know how he was doing everything. Although he has now made peace with the fact that people were calling him “mosali”, a woman, because he was selling beer, he described it as something very terrible, becauseit meant they thought he was useless. He became very frustrated that people would fight with his wife; finally, she left him. She could not understand why her husband was selling beer, while they were other jobs he could get as a man.

Since many men were retrenched at the same time he was, and they were not like him as they did not know what they could do to provide for their families, some came to him and ask him to help them. He helped them and encouraged them to form small groups, contribute, and sell their own beer. Though he was not educated and did not know much about it, he had always believed in gender equality. People in the community realized that he was wise and committed, and they encouraged him to stand for the local government elections as an independent candidate. He mentioned that it was not an easy journey, because most people in his community are affiliated with different political parties, and he was not sure if people would vote for him.

During campaigns it was not easy; people were calling him names and telling him he was a woman and that no one would vote for him. People did not understand his life style. Still, he managed to win at the polls and became a councillor in the Ts’ana-Talana council. He did not know about Gender Links, but had only heard about gender as a concept generally from Ministry of Gender. The council had meeting with GL as GL wanted to work with them. He had nothing against gender equality, and he wanted to try to understand it, especially since everyone seemed to have a different interpretation of it.

After an initial buy-in and situational analysis, GL agreed on a date that they would have an inception and action planning workshop. That’s when Khutliso was able to learn more about key gender concepts and roles of both women and men. He described the workshop as an eye opener. Not only did he learn about those issues, but he learned how to write his name for the very first time in his life. While filling out M&E forms, Ntolo assisted him in reading the forms, and taught him how to write his name. He added that it was not easy to be taught by a small child, but her patience made it all possible; he was able to fill in all those needed forms. People in his community did not believe it when they realized he was learning to read, and more importantly could write his name. He taught gender in his community, and people listened to him and changed their life styles. This was confirmed by Mr Motlatsi Ramoeletsi, a member of support group and neighbour to Rankoe, who added that if it was not because of the Cllr Rankoe, he would still beating his wife and making all decisions all by himself. “Before I attended ntate Khutliso’s public gathering I was beating my wife left and right. He took me to the police station I do not know how many times, but I could not stop. Ntate Khutliso showed me how to treat and respect a woman,” said Mr Motlatsi who was at his home babysitting his two old son. He mentioned that he would not do that at first, because he felt it was not his duty to look after the children. The teachings he got from Rankoe were able to change him. He said even his wife sometimes did not believe some of the things he does in the house, like babysitting, chores and joint decision making.

Khutliso mentioned that he was able to convince all the male council members, as well as many men in his community to join support groups. He said he realized how women were struggling to assist both women and men who were sick, and he thought it would really help if men could join support groups. He feels that though it is not easy, he would not stop until he feels that people are treated equally, and all able to participate in the community.

He closes by noting that he is now working very hard with other organizations who visit his village to train care workers and donate first Aids kits, as he saw that it is a big challenge for care workers, as they do not have knowledge of how to look after people. He looks forward to seeing them equipped with the materials and skills they can use to do a better job.


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