The Decline of Chieftain and Imperial Masculinities

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The present accepted ways of being a man and thinking about men in Lesotho, urges me to investigate the history of masculinity in this chapter. I want to, first, explore how the present dominant operations of masculinity in Lesotho are related to the ways of being a man and thinking about men in the past epochs. To explore this relationship amounts to doing the history of the present dominant masculinities. And this is the core of this chapter. I want to investigate manly discourses of the preceding epochs because they provide a structure within which the operations of the present dominant manly discourses which privilege men over women in Lesotho can be understood. Secondly, I want to challenge the present dominant masculinity discourses which tend to perceive and interpret men as a collective and unified metaphysical entity on the basis of this history. I want to demonstrate that masculinity can mean different things in different times. For this reason, I want to encourage those ways of being which represent ethical ways of being a man in the order of gender relations. I argue that, within the history of the operations of masculinity itself in Lesotho, there have been, and still are, different modes of being a man. I argue that the different modes of being a man have been engaged in a struggle for domination, not only over other men but also over women and children.
The purpose of this chapter, therefore, is to trace, within this context of a struggle for domination, the ways of being a man which make present an alternative more ethical consciousness in the order of gender. I believe that such vestiges can serve to challenge and engage in dialogue those present dominant ways of being a man which tend to put men at the centre of social organisations of the Basotho society even at the expense of women and children. This is important given the orientation of the philosophy of sekoele which justifies resistance to change in the order of gender on the basis of thinking about Basotho‟s historical past as a sort of sacred cow that cannot be altered. For this reason, the inquiry into the history of masculinity in Lesotho is determined by the conditions from which it is made, the present dominant masculinities, and it has to be critical. The inquiry serves the concerns of the present, not the past.
Engaging in the study of this history is very significant and relevant to the questions and aims of this study. This study seeks, first, to explore the dominant ideas and practices of the present dominant Sesotho masculinity and its effects on Basotho men. Secondly, it wants to identify the characteristics and tactics of the dominant philosophy of life called sekoele that encourage the present dominant masculinities not to accept change in the order of gender relations. The way this philosophy uses the historical past of the Basotho to reinforce men‟s resistance to change in the order of gender is behind the exploration of this history. Thirdly, I want to find out whether there is within the sekoele outlook itself, in terms of this history, a possibility of an alternative more ethical masculinity that can challenge the present forms of resistance of Basotho men to change in the order of gender relations. I want to explore whether there is something in terms of Basotho‟s history, in terms of beliefs, traditions and practices, which can help to understand the present ways of being a man and the challenges they face.

History and Method

For methodological purposes, to do the history of the present dominant masculinities in Lesotho, I rely on Foucault‟s (1972; 1979) archaeological and genealogical methodologies. The archaeological method brackets all the “truth” and “internal deep meaning” claims of the discourses about the object under study to concentrate on the mode and condition of its existence. In the case of this study and in particular this chapter, the present dominant discourses of manhood in Lesotho are bracketed to reveal the mode and conditions of their existence. The archaeological method analyses how one discourse comes to be substituted for another to reveal their historicity or temporality. It challenges undifferentiated reference to change by emphasising discontinuities between discourses. It tries to establish the system of transformations that constitute change. In short, the archaeological method demonstrates that what appears to be a continuous development of meaning is, in fact, fractured by discontinuous discursive formations. In the case of this study, what this means is that there are no finalities, no hidden underlying significations and metaphysical certainties about being a Mosotho man or being men in general, for that matter.
The genealogical method rejects out of hand the tendency of the traditional historical method which interprets history as a continuous progression of events toward some finality. It challenges the notions of hidden deep meanings, truth in itself, and interiority. It reveals that things, in this case masculinity, do not have essence; that their essence is the product of historical vicissitudes (Foucault 1971:139, 142, 151). The genealogical method focuses primarily on that which conditions, limits and institutionalises the formation of discourses. In this chapter attention is given to the conditions, limits and institutionalisation of the formation of specific masculinity discourses in Lesotho. In his “The Discourse on Language” appearing as an appendix to the American version of Archaeology of Knowledge, Foucault (1972:234) establishes the relationship of the archaeological and genealogical methods. Whereas the archaeological method strategically suspends totalities and unities, though it does not reject them out of hand, the genealogical method serves to deconstruct them. Through a sustained use of the genealogical method in his historical works, Discipline and Punish and The History of Sexuality, Foucault (1979; 1980) demonstrates the deconstructive edge of the method. He gives attention to the relations of power, knowledge and the body in modern western society. He insists that history is actually a struggle for domination. On this basis, the genealogical method questions and rejects any assertion of the singular truth, refuses to accept absolutes and demonstrates that the past is an effect of a specific historical discourse. In Foucault‟s (1980:114) words:
The history which bears us has the form of war rather than that of language: relations of power, not relations of meaning. History has no „meaning‟, though this is not to say that it is absurd or incoherent. On the contrary, it is intelligible and should be susceptible of analysis down to the smallest detail – but this is in accordance with the intelligibility of struggles of strategies and tactics.
Through the principles of strategy and tactics, the genealogical method exposes how all history comes about through participation in a struggle of competing discourses. The effect of this struggle is the authorization of certain discourses, giving them a status of the truth, and certain people to articulate that truth while they hide their own vested interests. The genealogical method therefore, unmasks the vested interests and deprives those who benefit from the truth of the discourse, the reassuring stability of life. It is a method of diagnosing and grasping the significance of social practices from within them. History becomes “effective” to the extent it does this (Bouchard 1980:154). In short, the genealogical method, as Foucault (1982: 208) would put it, serves to explain the different modes by which human beings are made subjects in a given culture. The implications of the genealogical method for the purpose of this study are enormous.
The hitherto authorised masculinity discourses which have acquired the status of the truth about men in Lesotho are challenged. The vested interests which perpetuate male domination are questioned.
The social constructionist perspective, adopted as one of the theoretical frameworks of this study, endorses the position of the genealogical method. It affirms that history in terms of tradition represents “different social contexts [which] evoke different selves” (Van der Lans, 2002:32). In his historical works, Birth of the Clinic and Birth of the Prison, Michel Foucault (1973; 1979) has demonstrated how the past constitutes the web of our present experience. We think about realities within structures that have been created in the past. In the context of this study, and in particular, this chapter, the present situation of the accepted ways of being and thinking about men in Lesotho is seen as a product of structures created in the past. In this perspective, Basotho men are seen as participants in concrete social contexts which cannot be detached from their discourses and time. Today, the present dominant Sesotho masculinities appear to be at a crossroads. They are challenged by a growing gender-ethical consciousness which demands some shifts in the ways Basotho men think about themselves in relation to women.

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Organisational Remark

Given the wide range of the history of masculinity in Lesotho, I have conveniently broken this chapter into three parts. The first deals with the theme of war; the second, with the political dimension of masculinity in Lesotho; the third, with Basotho men and labour migrancy. The other, which could have made the fourth part – Christian churches and Basotho men, has been reserved for the chapter on male domination and theologies of liberation, given its theological content.

Basotho Men as Hunters and Cattle Raiders

The Lesotho historiography about the beginnings of the Basotho as a nation in the 18th century and anthropological studies have noted the existence of the phenomenon of cultivation of land, hunting, cattle raiding, and war among major activities of men during this period. These activities came to be seen as the proof and the test of a man‟s masculinity (Laydevant c1974:23-27; Casalis 1861:16; Arboussert 1991:129; Makoro 1965: 28; Thompson 1975:55-56; Leoatle 1986:15-17). According to Casalis (1861:61-64) Letsie and Molapo, were driven by ambition of a mosotho man to prove their manly character by engaging in war, against their father‟s will when they led a troop of about four hundred men to attack the Korannas. When Moshoeshoe in 1835, directed an expedition of about 700 men against the Bathepu in the Eastern Cape, this was an occasion for his sons to test their bravery, a trade mark of manhood. It was in this venture where Moshoehoe sustained losses that caused him his brother‟s life, Makhabane (Thompson 1975:83). Cattle raiding was not peculiar to Basotho men. Casalis (1861:38-39) narrates a story of his encounter with the Korannas who had captured a large herd of cattle from the „Tembukis‟, (Bathepu).

Cattle raiding: a means of accumulating wealth for chiefs, bonding with and controlling subjects under the mafisa system

Cattle-raiding was not only a manly game. It was also a means of accumulating wealth for men, more especially for chiefs. It epitomises, therefore, another dimension through which masculinity of the time came to define itself, wealth (Laydevant c1974:70). It afforded a man a means to support his family. Leoatle (1986:26-27) notes the reason behind the joint cattle raid expedition of 1835. Moshoeshoe, Moorosi and Makhabane decided to invade the Bathepu because Makhabane had had intentions of killing their father, Mokhachane, for neglecting his mother of junior rank, leaving her house with no cattle. Moshoeshoe discouraged him and suggested an alternative option in cattle raiding. Joele raided „Masekoati‟s cattle against his father, Molapo, who he thought did not wish him (Joele) to be wealthy while Jonathan captured the cattle of Makunyapane (Sekese 1893).
Most of the flocks and herds captured in war became property of the chief (Casalis 1861:155; Sanders 1975:15, 32; Ellenberger 1912:129). The subjects regarded it a favour to become their depositories and guardians under what came to be known as mafisa system. The reward for taking care of these animals was their general use including consumption of their milk and meat of the aging ones. This arrangement achieved two important things: a social bond between the chief and his subjects as well as making a chief to be perceived as a supporter of his community. It was very rare for a chief to share the booty with the subjects who participated in the fight in which the animals were captured. In case he did so, he enjoyed the privilege of selecting the best and left the rest to his men. Why? Casalis remarks that wealth would endanger the stability of his power. Moshoeshoe devoted his energies and time to cattle raiding among his neighbours (Sekese 1892; 1900; 1909) and under the mafisa system consolidated his status as chief, allowing them to keep the cattle he captured from them and so they became his subjects (Thompson 1975:55, 57; Sanders 1975: 14-15, 23 32; Nchakala 1891; Ellenberger 1912:230-231; Sekese 1913). Taylor (Hadley 1972:43-44) relates how Molapo, as a young man, accumulated his cattle wealth by organised border raids. By the mafisa custom he distributed a bulk of them to his common men-folk subjects or headmen. At will he would call them for inspection and the caretaker had to produce the skins of the dead animals. On one occasion he „ate up‟ a certain Ananias and his house for annexing one head of cattle.
Looked at a close range, the practice of cattle-raiding, did not only represent a strong pining for power among men. It was also a condition under which some men emerged as above all others on the social scale. This reveals the construction of the heart of Sesotho chieftaincy as we know it today. Chiefs are men who emerged on the topmost range of the socioeconomic ladder through the practice of cattle raiding. It is these men who have determined the constitutive elements of chieftaincy accepted as Basotho‟s cultural heritage today. Cattle-raiding therefore is a condition of the emergence of a kind of social stratification or classification of two types of masculinities, chieftain and commoner and the power relations between them. As this chapter unfold we will see how the commoner masculinity will later challenge the authority of the chieftain masculinity. Moshoeshoe is the embodiment of the most successful chieftain masculinity. He is the one who set up structures within which we think of chieftaincy in Lesotho even today. The relationship between chieftain and common masculinities and women will become apparent as the chapter
unfolds. The identification of chieftaincy as a form of masculinity is significant in that, first, it challenges those interpretations which define Sesotho masculinity as a single entity of essential, ontological and spiritual order, something which makes it ahistorical and so conceal the issues of power relations. Second, it questions interpretations of chieftaincy which do not think about it as a form of masculinity which is an outcome of power relations itself, but as a necessary pre-given part of a social order, sanctioned by God, branded as essential to Basotho as a cultural and ethnic group as sekoele believers tend to think. On the contrary, the argument of this study is that chieftancy in Lesotho is a product of the operations of male power.

1.1 Introduction and the Background
1.2 Research Questions and Aims
1.3 Literature Review
1.4 Theoretical Framework and Methodological Considerations
1.5 Organisation of Chapters
1.6 An Important Remark about the Text
2.1 Introduction
2.2 History and Method
2.3 Organisational Remark
Part One: Basotho Men and War
2.4 Basotho Men as Hunters and Cattle Raiders
2.5 Summary
Part Two: The Decline of Chieftain and Imperial Masculinities
2.6 The Emergence of the Sesotho Political Masculinity
2.7 Summary
Part Three: Labour Migrancy
2.8 Introduction
2.9 Summary
2.10 General summary
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Theoretical Framework
3.3 The Notion of Sekoele: A Memory of Danger and Resistance
3.4 Sekoele and Sesotho Language and Social Cultural Identity
3.5 Sekoele and Masculinity: Basotho Men and Diversion, a Threat to Bosotho
3.6 Lebollo: A Traditional Rite of the Construction of Men
3.7 The Theoretical Framework of Sekoele and the Challenges it Faces
3.8 Sekoele and An Alternative More Ethical Masculinity
3.9 Summary
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Nationalism, Ethnicity and Identity
4.3 Sesotho Nationalism and Gender
4.4 The Challenge of Cultural Identity: A Need for Cultural Relational Turn
4.5 Summary
5.1 Introduction
Part One: A history of the Encounter of Basotho Men with the European
Christian Missionaries
5.2. A Competition of Discourses
5.3 Power Struggle in the Encounter between Christian Missionaries and Basotho Men
5.4 The Ambiguity of Religion: A Force of Domination or Resistance?
5.5 The Encounter between the Christian Missionaries and the Basotho: A historical condition for understanding debates on gender relations in Lesotho
5.6 Summary
Part Two: Theological Reflection
5.7 Introduction
5.8 Contextual Theologies of Liberation
5.9 Male Domination under Scrutiny
5.10 Summary
6.1 Introduction
6.2 A Gender-Ethical Consciousness
6.3 A Gender-Ethical Consciousness as Participatory Consciousness
6.4 A Gender-Ethical Consciousness and Basotho Women as Men‟s Subjects
6.5 Social Construction Theory and A Narrative Approach to Therapy and Masculinity
6.6 The Principles of Pastoral Care of Men in the Context of Male Domination and Gender-Based Violence
6.7 Summary
7.1 Introduction
7.2 The challenges posed by the politics of cultural identity in the search for gender justice
7.3 A Journey with the Members of the Reflecting Team
7.4 Methodological Implications for Practical Theology and Pastoral Care and Counseling/Therapy
7.5 What happened to me?: a reflection on the me

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