Lesotho: The history of my life

Date: September 9, 2014
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Those who know tell me that I was born on the 19 July 1955 and my mother died on the 20th of the same month and year. She died while giving birth to me.
I was raised by just somebody in the village who had compassion for me while my father was working at the mines. There was nobody who took good care of me let alone gave me parental care or love. I grew up without knowing love and whoever came along to give me anything good, I went with him or her. When I first learnt what was good and right, I was staying with my grandfather, the brother to my father who was a traditional doctor. There were three in the family, him and his daughter-in-law and me as the third one.
It is in this family where I found out the agony of my life as an orphan. My grandfather was located in the village of Ha poulo in the district of Leribe, in which there was a mountain called Tsikoane, in the middle of this mountain there was a deep black hole and nobody entered in the deep hole. The hole went from the one side to the other side. The animals which entered through that hole never returned; when found there would only be the skin left having been eaten by ‘we know not’.
My grandfather was a witch doctor like I said, each time when somebody came to the doctor I would be sent to that mountain before sunrise where nobody has ever entered. I would be wearing Thethana (the traditional dress for Basotho). I would be told not to look back when going up and down the mountain and instructed to take sand with my hand. The first day I took the soil from the opening of the hole. When I got home I was beaten like a slave and told that I took the wrong soil. I had to go back and pick the right soil which was sand a little deeper inside the hole. When I arrived at the door of the hole I made a short prayer then I entered and took the sand, it was not dry and I went back running. That is when I realised that the soils were different, this time it was sand.
When I arrived home my grandfather was still angry and said that if I did not go he would send me to my dead mother who died giving birth to me. At one time his daughter-in-law went home for maternity and I was left with him alone. At this time I was very poor, I was not given food or soap to bath and to wash and if anyone gave me that then it would be a crime and they would be insulted.
At this time I decided to run away to my own village where I knew no one and did not even know the way to my family home. I met the worst trial in my life. I went to sleep at night as usual and in the middle of the night my grandfather knocked at my door and ordered me to open his door and asked why I locked the door of his house. When I opened I saw the worst thing ever as a child, he was completely naked. He insulted me by my private parts and ordered me to take off my clothes and show him my private parts which I gave to boys. I tried to fight but he was too strong for me and he succeeded in raping me.
After he was done I was in a pool of blood, he washed me and I did not go to school for the whole week still being cared for by him. My grandfather told me not to tell anyone because I would be disabled, as a child fearing to be disabled, I told no one. When I finally found them I told my other relatives why I left my grandfather’s place. In this house my aunt continued from where my grandfather had left off. My aunt always told me that I could not stay with my grandfather because I was a prostitute and now I wanted to take her own husband. When my father heard of this he would get hurt but it was of no use because he could not do anything. My aunt treated him just the way she treated me. I went to school in a very painful way exchanging with my elder sister and even looking after her goats, then I passed standard 5 and did not pass standard 6 and then I had to stay at home.
In 1973 when I was relaxed, my aunt told me that there were people who were asking for my hand in marriage. In fact she told me that they had come to fetch me for my marriage, when I told her that I did not want it she asked if I came in to her house to sleep with my father. Then she ordered them to take me without my consent. I was taken by this man who already had a wife and a child and I did not have any intimate relationship with him besides the fact we were related by blood from my mother’s side. When I arrived I was named Susan; in 1986 death separated me from my husband whom I grew to love when we were living together.
This story is part of the “I” Stories series produced by the Gender Links encouraging the view that speaking out can set you free.

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