Maletsunyane Braai Festival is the biggest braai festival in Lesotho. It is an annual event that takes place on the last weekend of November, against the backdrop of the breath-taking Maletsunyane Falls in Semonkong which is about 115km from the capital City, Maseru.

The fall has been certified by the Guinness World Records as the longest commercially operated single-drop abseil in the world. Maletsunyane Falls has been listed by Conde Nast Traveller as one of the 50 most beautiful places to visit in Africa. Now the home of Lesotho’s Biggest Event.

Maletsunyane Waterfall, one of the highest single dropping waterfalls in the Southern Hemisphere with about 192m found in Semonkong. The water plummets into a spectacular gorge creating clouds of spray visible from afar.
My first experience of Maletsunyane Braai Festival was in 2017, as a camper; it was nothing like anything I’ve ever seen before. Resting on such a big body of water was overwhelming and soothing at the same time.

In 2018 they hosted yet another Festival which left attendees dusty, it is said that the field had no grass at the time and being the highest Braai Festival they were bound to experience strongest of winds. But that did not stop attendees from having fun and busking in all of that perfect imperfections.

When COVID hit the world, they too temporarily closed down. I believe this was a chance for the team to go back on the drawing board to fix a few things that may have went wrong the previous years i.e. ablution systems and the dust that took place.

The Maletsunyane Braai Festival team took it upon themselves to plant grass all those years when events were prohibited, they built flushing toilets and installed hot water showers.

Breakfast Is Served: A camper preparing food while attending the festival in Lesotho. Photo supplied

Fast forward to 2022, a few friends and I attended the festival; the scenery while driving up the mountains was absolutely beautiful, the green fields, we drove past the very first village I camped at in 2016, Thabana Li ‘Mele (Which means A Mountain with breasts) The two rivers; Makhalaneng and Likoiling spring up at Koung at a place called Matśela-habeli (double crossing). They then come together to form Makhalaneng which runs down southwards to meet Makhaleng River (This is the River you cross at Ha Ramabanta).

It truly was amazing to witness first time campers enjoy themselves in the way that they did, not even the rain storm could slow them down.

The Music Festival

There’s no doubt that Maletsunyane Braai Festival ripped us off in this department. I’d like to believe that as the organisers they’ve attended more than enough Festivals for them to know how music festivals are curated. Their biggest mistake was moving from what the event was initially about BRAAI to commercializing it and incorporating a music stage.

The money we paid for the music fest was not worth the value of what they gave us. We arrived on Friday to no performances, no DJs, no Music for the most part of the afternoon and early evening, we had to rely on cars.

On Saturday morning, we woke up to no music still, throughout the day until late at night when one of the DJs we were looking forward to see (Da Starr) got on the decks. A few more DJs and a performance by Ntate Stunna graced the stage and only after those acts, the festival team proceeded to switch off the lights after performances, in that dark space; attendees had to find their way back to the camp site using their phones as flash lights.

Community: A campsite at the Maletsunyane Braai Festival. Photo supplied

On the day of departure, everyone who isn’t from Lesotho was preparing for the long hours on the road and the traffic jam at the border gate. The festival organisers saw it fit to have one of the big acts perform while the rest of us had exited the camp site. Had the performance been in the morning, then it would have been tolerable because we would have then saw Malome Vector’s performance.

Everyone knows that if a festival sells a music festival pass, this means the fest commences on the first day of the festival until the very last day. But at the Maletsunyane Braai Festival, the music and performance department started to operate only from Saturday night.

When walking through the campsite, you could hear attendees lamenting on how things are actually done here because this isn’t the nature of festivals they knew or appreciated especially because they bought two tickets (One for performances and one for camping) but it seemed we had to curate our own music fest within the campsite that was allocated to us. Which wasn’t a problem for those of us who are able to camp without music playing in the background.

Hailing: Campers under tents as it pours down at the festival. Photo supplied

Stick to the braai & camping theme, IT WORKS effortlessly.

On Ablution

It’s 2022 and they still insist on not putting all their energy into that, those non flushable toilets posed an extreme health hazard because the team refuses to offload them as frequently as they need to. One of those toilets fell and no one from Maletsunyane Braai Festival team cared enough to look into that, even after I sent them a WhatsApp text giving them a heads up.

I don’t have much complaints about the flushable toilets and showers, those were clean, neat and in good condition; I definitely appreciated that. I also understand that they only use that site once a year when they are hosting the festival, it wouldn’t make sense to have a 100 showers and loos for just 3 days. However, a decent number of them should be added seeing that the festival keeps growing in numbers.

Your Employees

Employ more young people to assist with scanning tickets upon arrival. Also, brief the staff on how things should go, no one told us where the camp site was; there was no signage that guided us to where we needed to be.

None of your employees had answers to any questions we had, something as simple as “Where can we buy water and wood?” The answer we received was “We’re not sure if we have those for sale” until we actually found them on sale.

There was no uniform for those who work at the festival so that we know who to approach. I saw more Vodacom employees than I did those of the Maletsunyane Braai Festival. The women who made sure that the toilets are clean and that we have warm water in the showers the entire festival, thank them for me. We appreciate them, kakhulu futhi.

What broke my heart was learning that the Maletsunyane Braai Festival team did not care enough to allocate accommodation for these women or transport for them to go home when they knock off 10pm (according to the women I spoke to). One of them said they would only be addressed that day (on the last day of the Festival) as to why they weren’t given any accommodation.

Instead, they had to sleep outside behind the showers by the fire because that was their only source of warmth . I thought that was just inhumane and a sight their customers should not see. I sat and spoke to those women for a good 30 minutes, this makes me wonder if their sponsors know that Maletsunyane Braai Festival employees slept outside an open field in that cold and after that rains storm. This isn’t to demotivate the organisers in any way because that festival is legendary and important to us who value what they do.

Chilling: Palesa-Entle Makua unwinding at the Maletsunyane Braai Festival. Photo supplied

Any organisation that manages to pull in people from SADAC definitely has my support and we’ve seen in the number of people who actually were present. This to shine light where you may have not seen, I’ve seen how hard it is to host a Festival but I also know that some things can’t be taught because Ubuntu esizalwa nabo. Treat your employees with dignity.


There were men walking around with huge guns, we were not criminals nor were we at a concentration camp… We can’t randomly bump into dudes with such big ammunition at any given corner. Haibo!!!!!

The guys who were responsible for checking tickets between the stage and the camp site, those dudes should wear UNIFORMS!!!, Yes it was cold kodwa ingubo bafwethu, we can’t even tell who works there and who doesn’t. Please!!!!

The Braai Stands

After the rain storm, people made their way to the stage, I followed late at night only to almost trip by a braai stand that didn’t work throughout the Festival. I counted close to 10 people who fell because they were tripped by those braai stands . That’s dangerous!!!!

In Conclusion

Siyabonga kakhulu for a beautiful weekend. We will see you again in 2023, we look forward to building and growing with you.

Rea leboha’chaba sa thesele for that hospitality.

Khotso. Pula. Nala!!!


My typing cannot keep-up with the pace at which this rain is coming down. For some people, this here downpour could symbolize their growth, rebirth or sum like that. While for someone squatting in a shack somewhere, it’s simply a pain in the butt.

In the same way some still believe that any talk of miscarriages or child loss is taboo or a no-go-area. So much that a term like ‘fetal demise’ is preferred over ‘death’ or ‘passing away’ when talking about this kind of bereavement. But there are rebels out there, with a cause and without a pause, fighting against this stereotype. Palesa Makua is one of them.

EYES OF THE WARRIOR: Palesa Makua. Photo by Sello Majara
EYES OF THE WARRIOR: Palesa Makua. Photo by Sello Majara

Through her movement, Her Skin Speaks, which is dedicated at celebrating women’s ever-changing bodies, Makua put together a photo exhibition titled What Do We Call Women Who Have Lost Children? as a way of healing herself and other women who’ve lost babies.

“I was miserable and almost losing my mind, I then decided to quit my job to fully focus on myself and those like me,” she says. The Mamelodi-native lost her son through stillbirth in 2017 and has experienced two other losses after that. The idea to do this project came to her in January this year.

A patron appreciates the Her Skin Speaks exhibition at Cafe What? in Lesotho. Photo by Sello Majara
A patron appreciates the Her Skin Speaks exhibition at Cafe What? in Lesotho. Photo by Sello Majara

“This project has been what therapy is for most who find it useful for them.  It has not only given me the chance to openly deal with what has happened to me but also gave an amazing sisterhood with women who are strangers yet relate to my story wholeheartedly.  This project has been a healing space for me and it continues to serve that to those I have not yet met.”

Since this was also a therapeutic experience for her, Makua found herself reliving what she had gone through. “I also struggled with holding back my tears when we were documenting real conversations with the women who have lived these stories (which is totally understandable because we don’t necessarily get over the loss but with time we learn to coexist with the pain).

The Her Skin Speaks exhibition. Photo by Sello Majara
The Her Skin Speaks exhibition. Photo by Sello Majara

The exhibition was launched in August. “Showcasing at Vavasati International Women’s Festival hosted at The State Theatre was absolutely a dream come true, having to step on that much of a big entity’s stage and bare my soul was absolutely amazing.  The platform has added enormous weight to Her Skin Speaks ExHERbition as a brand.”

The exhibition has also made its way to the Kingdom. “Lesotho has become my second home and show casing there was absolutely needed as I have featured two ladies based in Barea and Morija (Lesotho) It was an honour seeing the subjects there with their loved ones to witness their contribution to such a movement and even heavier topic,” she says.

A photographer herself, Makua took photos of the four women who were part of this project. “The initial women whom the exhibition was about did not feel comfortable with being shot nude so I had to make a call out for women who are able and would like to embody their stories and it wasn’t really hard for them to agree to this idea as some of them knew why I needed to do this shoot because they are familiar with my story.”

Cafe What? – Her Skin Speaks exhibition in Lesotho. Photo by Sello Majara

The vulnerability that comes with nudity is no child’s play, especially in a society that sexualises the female body. It makes sense why some women would pull out of such a project- we live in a world where people even shun being naked by themselves. But not Palesa Makua, she has a liking for the bod. She embraces the beauty of her body without shame.  “The reason I am fascinated by telling stories through human nudity is because for a very long time women’s bodies have been a battlefield and unfortunately they continue to be.

I honestly couldn’t think of any other way to portray this “Battlefield” in its truest, most beautiful and sincere form as we know it and call it what exactly it is.”

“All these unfortunate events are taking place emizimbeni yethu or it is the foundation of the amount of damage that happens emuntwini, I couldn’t have chosen any other way to document our stories.”

– Her Skin Speaks exhibition at Cafe What? in Lesotho. Photo by Sello Majara

“What I hope that people take from this is that no one has to suffer in silence and in the words of Zewande ‘The soul of a miscarried child never leaves the womb’ also hope that more women finds comfort that we are here holding space for them and that they should never go through this loss alone.  I hope this inspires more women to open up to other women about such events (I know I wish oh I had someone walking me through this).”

Makua will today showcase her work at Black Labone in Pretoria (381 Helen Joseph Street African Beer Emporium)


IT was Kenyan author and philosopher John Mbiti who said “I am because we are and since we are, therefore I am.” It’s Ubuntu. I couldn’t think of anything else, as I heard the story behind the making of Cameroonian artist Blick Bassy’s music video, Ngwa.

“…it’s inspired by a Kenyan story and a South African freedom fighter, the whole album is about a Cameroonian guy…and somehow put all that in a pot and cook it and see what comes out. I think if there’s a future for African art that’s it,” said director Tebog ‘Tebza’ Malope speaking at Blik’s screening in Joburg. Hosted in a chic lower ground floor in Braamfontein, where African jazz oozes from speakers above us, under warm burgundy lights at the Untitled Basement, off kilter attendees converse in their huddles as they eagerly wait to see the video on a Thursday night.

From L-R: Director Tebza speaking at the screening, next to musician Blick Bassy. Photo by Sip The Snapper

The song Ngwa is from Blick’s upcoming album, 1958 which comes out in March. 1958 is an ode to Cameroonian trade unionist and France adversary, Ruben Um Nyobè and the heroes of the Cameroonian Independence-all in the hope of reconnecting Cameroonians with their true history. Um Nyobè was butchered in 1958 by the French government and buried in concrete to remove any remnant of his legacy in the memory of Cameroonians.

“…making this project and telling Um Nyobè’s story, it was really important for me to come to Africa, to make it here and with people from here. People don’t know my country, they just know this one view coming from one storyteller, coming from a Western country. But here you have a beautiful storyteller, this is storytelling through this video. We have to show things by ourselves,” Blick shares his thought on the Ngwa video.

“He was a fighter, a visionary…he was someone who wanted to build people, not just for freedom but he wanted everyone to be equal. Um Nyobè was fighting for this. If you look at Cameroon today, we’re just living everything he was talking about-we have a lot of tribalism in Cameroon today, he spoke about this. So if we really wana go forward, we have to be connected to the roots-that’s why trees are beautiful, because with no roots there’s no tree.”

Blick Bassy performing after the screening. Photo by Sip The Snapper

To visually tell this story, Blick roped in South African director Tebza, who borrowed from African narratives, to tell the story of these uncelebrated heroes.  “I was reading Ngũgĩ Wa Thiong’o’s book called Matigari and the first chapter is about a Mau Mau soldier, in East Africa in Kenya who, in the first chapter has his AK47…somebody runs up the mountain to tell him ‘yo, we don’t have to train anymore, we’re free now. So come down’…” said Tebza explaining the inspiration.

After burying his rifle and descending from the mountain, the soldier grows a sense of disenchantment with this new world, as it seems he was sold a dream only for him to lay down his arms. “Same narrative with South Africa, same narrative with Cameroon. So when I started chatting with Blick about Um Nyobè, I realised there’s some sorta intersection between East, West and Southern Africa…”

The video was shot on the mountains of Lesotho, in wet and icy temperatures. “This was probably my hardest shoot ever. The horror stories behind this; we lost a day because of someone who was stuck at the boarder gate, we lost half a day because of the rain, had some trouble finding the horses because they ran often and just one thing after another,” says Tebza, who last year won the Best Music Video for Kwesta’s Spirit.

Renowned television and movie director Roli Nikiwe, who was present on the night, drove the crew to Lesotho and upon getting there, he offered to help by being the first AD, looking for locations and even assisting with the catering. “Africans always come together to complain about the enemy, the coloniser, but put two Africans together and there’s beauty. To watch the two of you guys, get together and put your heads together, make something work, for me was a beautiful example of what we could do as a continent,” said Nikiwe.

The video has beautiful wide shots that display the beauty of the African landscape. “…There’s rarely a close-up, because I just want you to see it. We’re talking about Africa that was taken from us, so let’s show it and see what was taken,” said the director.

The video ends off with Blick being stabbed with a spear by pursuing imperialists on open land “…The last bit is actually taken from Solomon Mahlangu’s statement before they hung him, ‘my blood will nourish the tree of freedom’…so in death, in Ruben Um Nyobè’s death, Solomon Mahlangu’s death, in the death of so many of our struggle heroes, they didn’t really die, they multiply, they became trees and they live on forever,” shared Tebza.

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