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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Promoting food security and respect for the land through indigenous ways of knowing : educating ourselves through Lesotho Qacha's Nek community project Tsepa, Mathabo


This study explores the meaning and value of Basotho traditional farming practices and Indigenous knowing using Indigenous methodology. The study sought to 1) understand the core tenets of Basotho traditional farming practices that involve Indigenous knowledge and sustainable land care; 2) investigate the implications of these practices, and how they may inform school curriculum in ways that promote food security and reduce child hunger; and 3) examine the role of gender in food practices in Lesotho. I collaborated with women Elders who knew oral traditions or traditional farming practices by working with children on a school farm. I used Basotho ways of knowing and communication to gather data including storytelling and observation. I complemented my observation data by utilizing photographs and field notes. The Elders shared their farming experiences, oral traditions, and knowledge including the cultural and survival significance of selecting, preserving, and sharing seeds, how to grow diverse, healthy, and nutritious food and how to be food self-sufficient. They spoke of and demonstrated ways to gather people together as a community to plant, harvest, and share food while caring for the land through culturally respectful practices. The Elders further shared ways to think about and relate to the land as a gift, as 'a being' from Creator, to be respected and cared for in the same way humans care for themselves. The Elders underscored the need to promote food security and land care through a food curriculum that embraces traditional farming practices steeped in Indigenous knowledge. Farming practices such as letsema (community collaborating in fieldwork), hlakantsutsu culture (diversified mixed cropping), koti (minimizing tillage), use of animal dung and ash fertilizers, selecting and preserving native seeds and molala (allowing land to rest after harvest) can constitute a desired curriculum. The Elders taught me what I understood as, and call, the principles of Re seng (we are all related): all humans and non-humans alike, rootedness, letsema (community collaboration), interdependence, connectedness, reciprocity, respect and care for the land. Reflection on these principles continuously shaped the study's theoretical framework with consequent implications on the participatory action methodology, which I characterize as the Basotho Indigenous Participatory Action Methodology.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International