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“Iconic Animals and Basotho's Identities: the relational Image of a People in selected Epitaphs”

“Iconic Animals and Basotho's Identities: the relational Image of a People in selected Epitaphs”

by Dr. Taofik Olasunkanmi Adesanmi

Thu 28 May 2020, 14-16, Zoom Meeting 978 8361 5007


The commemorative function of epitaphs is universal, and Basotho’s cannot be an exception. While the texts are made to perform this role, the contents of theirschematic elements aremostlydetermined by cultural practices of the society in which they are located. The pivotalinterest of this study ison the juxtaposition of the Basotho clan names and animalsasconsistently highlighted in the seventh schematic element, “Closing”, ofthe selected epitaphs.In other words, this study attempts to unravel the rationale behind the choice and appearance (verbally or pictorially) of such animalsor totems (Seboko)in the texts. Despite the qualitative outlookof this study, two hundred (200) epitaphswerepurposively chosenas database. The textswere originallypart of the datasourcedfrom four(4)popular cemeteries within Maseru District, Lesotho,for my PhD research at the National University of Lesotho (2016-2018).As a matter of necessity, a tripartitetheoretical frameworkwasadopted inthis study byrelying on social identity theory (SIT) otherwise regarded as social categorisation theory (SCT), identity theory (IT), and semiotics as the analytical lenses.With this approach coupled with the application ofBarthes’ two-tiered qualitative approach to visual analysisencompassingdenotativeand connotative meaning,as well as historical insights fromRosenbergand Weisfelder’sHistorical Dictionary of Lesotho,it was discoveredthat the Basotho(the living and the dead)carry an inherited or abequeathed social identity which they areveryproudof. Aside its subsuming impact on theindividual Mosotho’spersonhood(selfhood),the social identificationprocess through Sebokointeralia mitigatesthe usualdebilitating social strugglesfor political/leadershippower and thereby eases administrative process in the nation.It is thus not by political campaign neither is it arbitrary that the monarchical headship of the government can only be from the Bak(w)oenaClan, the Royal House.

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