LOOK: The Basotho women keeping traditions alive

Moliehi Mafantiri says their traditional woven fabrics are ethically sourced and produced. Picture: Dominic Naidoo

Moliehi Mafantiri says their traditional woven fabrics are ethically sourced and produced. Picture: Dominic Naidoo

Published Oct 27, 2022


Two weeks ago I had the honour and privilege of being invited to participate in Africa’s first-ever Regional Climate Change Conference of Youth (RCOY) which took place at Gauteng’s Innovation Hub in Lynnwood, Pretoria.

The conference is hosted by Indalo Inclusive South Africa, a Pretoria-based non-profit organisation working to support and promote social, green, inclusive, and responsible entrepreneurship in South Africa.

Natania Botha, content and partnerships coordinator at Indalo Inclusive and long-time environmental activist said that hosting and facilitating conferences such as RCOY is crucial if we are to ensure a sustainable future for African youth.

Picture: Dominic Naidoo

"It is important that we create these platforms to elevate the voices of young people in order to share their knowledge, challenges, lived experiences and solutions with one another and for them to return to our communities using this newfound knowledge as a mandate to create change," said Botha.

After spending 36 hours over three days engaging with vibrant, inspiring and driven African youth from all over this beautiful continent, I can confidently say that our future is in safe hands.

I met a young Basotho, Ms Moliehi (pronounced Modehi) Mafantiri, an intern at the South African Climate Network, a World Wildlife Fund initiative, who is passionate about preserving and protecting Lesotho’s famous mohair weaving traditions which are carried from generation to generation.

Chatting to Mafantiri at the conference, she told me that Barali’s (pronounced Baradi) black woman-owned design firm has two branches, the first being a sustainable home-ware brand and the second being a brand and design consultancy.

Picture: https://www.keronabarali.com/

“Our sustainable home-ware brand is expertly hand crafted by local artisans in Lesotho, for the eco-conscious customer, who desires home-ware that is both beautiful and ethically produced. One of our central values is cultural continuity, which is why we ensure stories of Basotho cultures are told through our products,” she said.

Barali promotes sustainable, innovative products and through its activities, aims to achieve improved sustainability within its Lesotho operations where most of its production takes place.

This is achieved through paying vendors fair wages, only engaging with vendors that comply with health and safety standards, sourcing eco-friendly materials and implementing production that ensures safe environmental performance.

Lesotho’s wool and mohair industry is steeped in history and tradition. For well over two centuries, the nation’s sheep have been producing high-quality wool and its Angora goats produce mohair, a finer, more eye-catching textile.

Moliehi Mafantiri says their traditional woven fabrics are ethically sourced and produced. Picture: Dominic Naidoo

Most of these goats and sheep live in small herds managed by rural small-scale farmers, whose activity forms the bedrock of Lesotho’s economy.

Over the years, the industry developed a well-functioning network that connected local producers in Lesotho with brokers in South Africa, who bought the raw product and then processed and sold it.

This network also hosted a number of support services, including the provision of improved breeds, suitable equipment, and supplies such as livestock medication, training on livestock and range management and access to loans.

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