Basotho Culture and the Prayers for Rain: Where Climate Change Converges

  • Lineo Rose Johnson UNISA
Keywords: Basotho, climate change, culture, festivities, indigenous knowledge system, prayers for rain


In Basotho culture men, women, girls, and boys each have different festivities to engage in when praying for rain. Rain festivities are organised and performed during the drought months from November to January of each year. This study examines the indigenous knowledge systems embedded in the different festivities as performed by males and females, and how they are understood and practised by diverse groups in Basotho society. The practices form part of the culture of Basotho that is still fundamentally practised in the rural areas of Lesotho, in spite of the advent of western education and Christianity. The article discusses the prayer for rain festivities and weather predictions and their relevance to the contemporary climate and weather-changing phenomenon and patterns. The study adopted a qualitative approach, and a sample of 40 Basotho men, women, girls, and boys—including traditional leaders and community elders in the four rural villages in Leribe district participated in interviews and focus group meetings. The thematic analysis described the narratives and discourse of the festivities and their cultural significance. Lesotho has experienced climate change, which has affected its people over centuries—hence they continue to explore changing patterns of climate and weather conditions. In line with their cultural beliefs, Basotho believe that rain and other environmental conditions are sent by their ancestors. Thus, rain festivities and prayers form part of their indigenous knowledge and contribute to the debate on climate change and its effects on the lives of African communities and their culture, particularly those of Basotho. Thus, the study concludes that African communities in general—in this context Basotho, have been engaged in climate change discourses in their own indigenous ways over time, and for them, climate change is not a new phenomenon.