Culture Basothostyle

Traditional Basotho culture is flourishing, and colourful celebrations marking milestones, such as birth, puberty, marriage and death, are a central part of village life. While hiking you may see the lekolulo, a flute-like instrument played by herd boys; the thomo, a stringed instrument played by women; and the setoio-toio, a stringed instrument played with the mouth by men. Cattle hold an important position in daily life, both as sacrificial animals and as important symbols of wealth. Crop cultivation and weather are also central, and form the heart of many traditions.

The Basotho believe in a Supreme Being and place a great deal of emphasis on balimo (ancestors), who act as intermediaries between people and the capricious forces of nature and the spirit world. Evil is a constant danger, caused by boloi (witchcraft; witches can be either male or female) and thkolosi (small, maliciously playful beings, similar to the Xhosa's tokoloshe). If you're being bothered by these forces, head to the nearest ngaka - a learned man, part sorcerer and part doctor - who can combat them. Basotho are traditionally buried in a sitting position, facing the rising sun and ready to leap up when called.

next right. Ask for directions once you're on this road.

Crocodile Inn (§ 2246 0223; Reserve Rd; s/d/tr from Ml98/231/335) This one can be a bit of a 'croc'. The simple but clean rooms often don't have water. The newer, nicer rondav-els are out the back and are frequented for night kips or day rests (note, the latter is advertised). The restaurant here is Butha-Buthe's main dining establishment. The white hotel is about 500m off the main road (signposted to Butha-Buthe Hospital), at the southern end of town.

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