Friday morning we left Pietermaritzburg on a short week-end trip. I knew the destination. My wife did not. But she could guess when we turned off from N3 onto R617.
Are we going to Sani Pass?
After a short break somewhere between Underberg and the South African boarder post we started the scenic part which is a magnificent pass. On the website of Sani Mountain Lodge it is described like this:
There are eight kilometres of hairpin bends, loose rocks and sheer drops.
The description is accurate. But I liked to drive these eight kilometres. I thanked God for the 4x4 training we had back in Sweden in 2012. Keep the momentum.
|It was in deed an experience to drive through the pass.|
We came early and were able to walk on top of the escarpment a few hours already on Friday afternoon. What a view! After dinner we went to our rondavel and went to bed quite early.
Already on arrival to the Sani Mountain Lodge, which is just inside the Lesotho boarder, we booked a tour to Thabana Ntlenyana, which is the highest point in Africa south of Kilimanjaro. 3482 m above sea level. The name – a seSotho word – means:
Beautiful little mountain
We started about 08h30 and returned 17h00. It was demanding but definitely worthwhile. We enjoyed our guide, Tato, very much but also the company of a family from Johannesburg.
On the top we had lunch and shared our lunch packets with one another. We brought hot coffee, which especially Tato enjoyed – it was quite cold and also windy. The other family had sausages – boerewors – delicious!
|Beautiful little mountain|
|We are helping each other to reach the actual summit.|
|We had a very good guide in Tato.|
On our way to the summit we had passed a church. Tato told us that his brother, Siphiwe, is the pastor and we were so happy to learn that the church service was planned to start at 10h00 the following day. Tato had already told his brother that a Moruti and a maMoruti might come and participate. With that in mind we went to bed after a nice dinner. It was not difficult to fall asleep.
It is not every day that we just enter a house, for the first time, trusting that we are welcome. This we did this very Sunday. In the room, which actually is a combined church and dining/living room, about 1o people had gathered. We greeted them and after a few minutes the pastor came out and showed how happy he was that we had come.
|The Church lies quite alone in the area.|
|Singing and dancing. A good way of keeping the cold at a distance.|
|Another option is to wear a blanket.|
|MaMoruti is delivering a greeting to the congregation.|
The service started in a very relaxed way. Another brother of Tato was playing the keyboard and we sang some choruses. Then Moruti Siphiwe asked us to give some greetings to the congregations, which we did. Thereafter anyone was invited and gave testimonies. We really liked this part. Very short messages. I especially remember one, who read a few bible verses from Matthew 21:14-15:
The blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he cured them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the amazing things that he did, and heard the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became angry …
The interpretation was simple and contextual. The congregation consisted of poor Basotho. They feel that other people always have opinions about how they should live and how they should be a Church. But God is with them just like Jesus was with the people of his time.
We had heard Tato tell us about the working conditions at the lodge as well as the working conditions of the people working on the road. A Chinese contractor employs workers who have to work seven days a week from six in the morning until six in the evening. They often leave their homes before five and only arrive home at seven.
Even at the lodge we saw that people worked very long hours and even on Sundays they worked with things that did not relate to food or accommodation, like building new structures etc.
Sunday evening. Freedom day in South Africa. 20 years of democracy. It is not only in Lesotho that people work under these kinds of conditions. It was good to get out of the country – even if it was only a few metres – and reflect. When we had breakfast this morning two South Africans at our table asked us:
What do you think of our country 20 years after the miracle?
I always get many pictures in my mind when I get this kind of question. Yes, there are enormous injustices and lots of corruption. But South Africa is at least trying. It would be easy just to look at the negatives – both in South Africa and Lesotho – and in many other countries throughout the continent. But there are also good signs. We hear stories filled with hope. People want to believe in a better future. From all different groups. So my choice is to listen to these stories – knowing that there are other stories as well. And I want to believe that South Africa has the right to celebrate 20 years of democracy.