LESOTHO: Neo Mahase

Date: September 5, 2018
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“Determination is what made me who I am today”

Councillor Neo Mahase was born and bred in Thabana-Morena Ha Leboto in the Mafeteng district where most people know it as a district of lots of fighting’s amongst Sesotho musicians. Clouncillor Neo also calls himself as a rural boy. He grew up there and he is still leaving there even of today. Like any other young Mosotho boy he went to his primary school and after completing it went to Makeneng High school where he completed his Form E Since he was not coming from  a wealthy  family worked very hard as he had this idea that he wanted to build his mother a very big house. He considered himself as one of the kids that their growing up was not that a person can freely talk about it, but what he liked most about himself was that he never dwell on how he was raised or grew up but what he wanted his future to be like and willing to do whatever it takes to shape it the way he would wanted it to be.

After completing his Form E, waiting for the results he went around and looked for temporary job so that he could be able to assist his family. It was tough as both his parents were not working and he had to save for when his results came out so that he can be able to go to the University. As young as he was he worked very hard and knew what he wanted in life ,but unfortunately he didn’t make it to university because he did not pass in a way that he could be admitted  in any College or University. He did not give up on his dreams but he continue working at the Ministry of Forestry where he was interacting directly with people and that’s when people especially his community members realized his skills and potential, they immediately fell in love with him.

He was a young boy and he did not have interest in politics except for just being so committed in his job and working very hard. And he actually did not like politicians as he regarded them to be dishonest and he did not even want to be associated with them, not knowing that one day he would be a one. In 2011 when Lesotho was going for the 2nd Local government elections people encouraged him to stand in as an independent candidate he was not sure about that as he didn’t see him as a leader especially of such big position he regarded. He mentioned that he never had rest because people were so on to him and he was not sure, but his mother talked with him and showed him some reasons and finally decided to give it a try. He worked very hard with community and after elections he won and had to resign from his job and went to the council. It was a new challenge altogether but he enjoyed every moment of it and is still enjoying it even now.

He has been holding several public gatherings talking about lots of issues that people needed to know and be aware of like HIV/AIDS, Gender based violence, community police forums and many more. He has never talked about gender issues because he did not have knowledge about it until Gender Links came to their council to propose that they work together. He heard about Gender Links from Ts’ana-Talana council where the chairperson of that council couldn’t stop talking about GL and he had to ask about GL and wanted to know more about it, so he was very happy when GL arrived at their council. The meeting they had from that day was very important and very brief, but he learnt so many things and could not wait for the inception workshop.

However they are still challenges that make their work very difficult because after they were elected they held several public gatherings where they were asking people to list their needs people were hoping that all those needs will be implemented, but they are struggling as a council due to their limited budget which doesn’t allow them to do anything and at the same time people believe that they are not doing anything they promised.In addition he was so looking forward to learn about gender issues as he had always wanted to know about it and how is it relevant to their council and also how best can they incorporate gender issues in their council.

During a four day workshop where they tackled the following modules key gender concepts, gender and governance and conflict resolution, gender planning and developing a local gender action plan   and many more, but Councillor Mahase mentioned he personally found key gender concept and developing gender action plan very important because he was able to see that it was possible to incorporate gender in every aspect of their activities. Later that year GL came again to do COE stages 7&8  where they discussed strategic communications and IT for advocacy  including the use of cell phones and it was also very important because now he is able to stand in front of people with confidence and master public speaking as he learnt them from strategic communication module. He uses WhatsApp and skype from his phone to communicate with his people and things are so easy now.

Councillor Neo has influenced the management of the council to be gender sensitive as a result when they were going for councils elections they were able to elect a man for chairperson and a female for vice of which it was not something that they used to do since he was a councillor and he promised that next time they will change and give a female a chance to be the chair person and a male vice. The rate of gender violence has decreased since GL entrepreneurship trainings and the public gatherings that he has been holding in order to teach people about gender based violence and encourage people to report gender violence. And he is going to work very hard and see that people get clean water as it is a very big problem in his village.