The Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho is on the road to progress. A road that is without a doubt going to be long and rocky. As with almost every developing country around the world there are growing pains. A difficult balance must be struck as any nation progresses; environment vs industry, traditions vs globalization, and tourism as an emerging economy. I have seen this in my travels across Africa and Latin America; East Germany was facing it’s own similar struggles just ten years ago but on a much different scale.
The images above are representative of Lesotho in many ways. The Spiral Aloe; Lesotho’s national plant is sacred to many and sought after by those who might turn a few dollars at the market. Protection is in place but rarely regulated. The plant is one of natures certain wonders; a cactus of rare beauty.
The second image of Peace Corps volunteers washing away their own worries at Malealea Falls is a key representation of tourism and the possibilities associated with this recently introduced economy. The lodge that serves to bring tourism to this remote area is run by white settlers who have made the Mountain Kingdom their home and employee Basotho as caretakers of the guest ranch. Young and old gain profit from working as guides, stable hands, cooks and musicians. The country is brimming with untapped opportunities for tourism. If implemented correctly this would create an income for even some of the most remote communities in years to come.
The third photograph is indicative of two things, often intertwined. Small business and sustainability. A solar cooker, in this case a bread cooker, is being polished by its proprietor at a trade school. Although an expensive purchase for many, in a country of little per capita, this invention can generate enough bread in a single morning to support a small family, and if used consistently it can also drastically reduced the carbon footprint in a country with fuel scarcity and abundant sunshine.
I hope that my thoughts in this post are readable. I hope to return to Lesotho in the near future in an effort to make images that go beyond culture and portraiture; imagery that can be published around the globe creating a certain impact to its viewers. Creating positive change through imagery. I hope to bring awareness to those outside of the small Mountain Kingdom in an effort to create hope and a better future for those whose livelihoods are tied to the fate of a nation.
To learn how to help the Basotho people please visit Friends of Lesotho.org
As photographers and journalist, we are all aware that imagery has helped to create change in recent history-perhaps now more than ever. Take a moment to give me your thoughts. Can we directly better the lives or environments of those we photograph through pictures? ….and if so how?
Feel free to share your thoughts, your projects! Have a great weekend.
Kind regards, Jeremy