Thabo Malie – Lesotho

Thabo Malie – Lesotho

Date: June 30, 2015
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Councillor Thabo Malie remembers vividly when he was so reluctant to go to a workshop, because it was going to be about gender issues.  Thanks to his wife, he was persuaded to participate in the four-day workshop that was held at the council offices. He recalled that they discussed key gender concepts, conflict resolution, making care work count in local government, gender, climate change and sustainable development and many more topics. What he remembers most is that from that day he could not stop smiling; even his wife had to ask what was going on with him. He knew from that moment on, his life changed.

Councillor Thabo was born in the district of Mohale’s Hoek, did his primary education at Lefikeng and his Secondary at Mants’ase, but due to financial constraints he did not finish his studies and was forced to look after his family’s cattle. Because he was the only boy child in the family, he had to drop out of school. Although he was not happy and wanted to be educated, he felt maybe he was old enough and had to take care of his parents and siblings. Life became tougher when his father passed on and he had to think of how to support his family.

After a few months, he decided to go to the mines in South Africa at the age of 25. It was not easy, but he had to do it for the sake of his family. Malie mentioned that in Lesotho, men are expected to marry even when working in the mines. He smiled when he remembered that he was not even dating with wife then, but they were forced to marry each other. Now he knows that such a thing is against the law.

Since he was raised as the man of the house, he would make decisions alone without consulting his wife; he was raised knowing that he was the decision maker. The worst part is that he would give his mother money and tell her that his wife will consult her whenever she wanted something. His wife would try to talk to him, showing him that it was not fair for him to give money to his mother while she was still around, but he would not listen.

He did not feel bad about all those things, because he thought he was doing the right thing. When he attended a Gender Links workshop, his outlook changed. Once, he even sent his boy child to initiation school without discussing it with his wife. Those issues brought so many problems to his family, but he was not open to changing. He worked in the mines for 7 years, until he was retrenched. After his retrenchment, life was as difficult as he had to adapt; it was difficult, as he did not have money at the time.

He is a farmer, and he used to call people to harvest with him so that he can he can give them food. This way, people started to recognise him. He was born from a political family, but he did not participate that much. His volunteered at the office of Chief, and that’s where he began interacting more with the community. When the community was preparing for the 2011 local government elections, many people encouraged him to stand for elections. He decided to try, and luckily he won the elections. Becoming a councillor was a challenge, because the people who elected him had high expectations.

The Gender Links workshop was his first training as a councillor, and gender was a topic he did not want to hear about at any cost. He later described the workshop as a life changer, and from that day he never looked back or regretted being a councillor. He mentioned that key gender concepts were explained in way that, even with stubbornly held views, he could see that he could be a traditional Mosotho man, and still change his attitudes towards many things.

Though it was very difficult to change drastically, he tried his best to begin sharing information with his wife, and do things together with her. For example, if there was any kind of the decision that had to be taken, he would make those decisions with his wife. He also encouraged his political party to give both women and men equal opportunity to participate in the party, such that now all management committees include women and men, unlike in the past where it would only be men. He was elected as the chairperson of the party, but he declined and encouraged one of the women to take the position. This way, he encouraged women to support one another. He feels that he is a driver of change, because that is what people call him, and when he looks back and sees where he comes from and who he was, he agrees with everyone that he has changed.

Makatleho Matsoso is a community member who resides just next to Malie. She could not stop remarking about how much the councillor has changed. Matsoso doesn’t only know Malie because he is her neighbour, but because he is her councillor and elected representative as well. She described Malie as someone who was exceptionally stubborn, and was amazed that he had changed so much. “Now I know that if my husband gives me trouble, Ntate Malie is the right person to talk to, and has become my husband’s role model too” said Matsoso. At the age of 35, Matsoso has five children. It was not her decision because she wanted to have only two, but she could not make that decision as her husband was against it. He forced her to have those children, as he told her that he was the man of the house. Since then, Malie talked some sense into him and explained to him her reasons, her husband was able to see her point of view, and they agreed as a family that she will use family planning and stop having kids.

Malie closes by pointing out that now he is able to teach his children to understand gender roles, so that they will not make the same mistakes that he did when he was growing up. For example, when he was growing up, he never helped his sister with family chores, because he thought that as a boy, this was not his job. Sometimes he thinks he is too hard on his kids, but he doesn’t regret it, because they will not grow up the same way he did. He admits that things do change, and also thinks that people should adapt.

He would like to thank GL for the publications that they use as council and as individuals. Though he doesn’t understand English that much, he was able to learn a lot, especially from COE training manual, and he intending to share this knowledge with his community and his fellow councillors.


3 thoughts on “Thabo Malie – Lesotho”

Lengolo Malie says:

this is very used to do all these things.i am very clad that he is a diffrent person altogether now.

i just wanna thank you gender links with the change you brought in my family

Lawrance says:

Dats so true Rangwane u played ur role effectively,we are who we aare todei bcz of you

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