They have a dream— and they have an ideal. It is neither Martin Luther King’s “dream” nor is it Nelson Mandela’s ideal which he hoped “to live for and to achieve.”
Invited by the sons and daughters of the soil, the National University of Lesotho (NUL) visionaries are coalescing with a number of native entrepreneurs and the ‘Mamathe community to pursue an unusual dream of the Organic City in the ‘Mamathe.
This peculiar city under plans, will lay fixed within the confines of the spectacular Tebe-Tebe Valley in the Berea district of Lesotho, even as it evolves to become the first and the only of its kind, when it finally takes shape decades from now.
According to Mrs ‘Marethabile Jane, one of the many researchers in this project, the place will first emerge as a nature park. Then it will metamorphose into something of a mini Disneyland. In time, the organic city will materialize and blossom around and beyond it.
“The organic city will be some sort of a planned and carefully managed chaos,” she added. Take heart, you will soon know what that means.
It will be born from a unique place in the ‘Mamathe that has captured the attention of the privileged few to have seen it; the local and international nature lovers alike. “How come there is a place so beautiful, yet so carefully concealed?” remarked one shaken soul who, after being totally immersed in the mystery of the place for hours, came out wondering aloud—“what a place!”
There is no doubt, that when it comes to its potential for nature tourism Lesotho is itself, a concealed beauty and, to borrow from one enthusiast, “the best kept secret of our time.” It is a sleeping giant!
But the place, that stretches from the plateaus of the ‘Mamathe village and to the rolling hills of Ha Mpara, pierced through on the belly, as if for a revenge, by the river Tebe-Tebe, can only comfortably add to the near mystical splendor of the Kingdom in the Sky!
Devoid, to some degree, of unpalatable anthropogenic (human) influences, and populated by the untamed fauna and flora; the ever elusive rock badgers, the hares, and the rare lilies of the field, the sloppy part of the place is also a home to a cave—a mighty cave, curved at a snail’s pace over millennia by nature and curved so deep; enough to become one of the natural wonders of the tiny Mountain Kingdom.
It is here, in this place, that the city will come into sight. A portion of the place will first be encapsulated in a fence, to further provide a safe haven for animals and plants that have survived simply because of the place’s ability to defend itself (it happens to have so steep the cliffs that only the courageous dare to pay a visit.) That will be the nature park.
And it is here, in this park, that you will stopover. Hike and camp and parachute and celebrate and balloon ride and eat and drink and dance as if there is no tomorrow.
Then, as the park expands, there will be zoos, aquariums, gardens and theme parks, all in measured sizes, to school and to educate, whilst entertaining.
In the end, the organic city will, finally, come to be. It should be amazing. Again, unlike Mandela’s dream, which he, at least, “hoped to live for and to achieve,” even as he was prepared to die for, the proponents of the city have no ambitions to live to see. That is because they know that the city may finally take form at a time when they are long forgotten! It may as well be enjoyed by the posterity.
To the NUL visionaries, the city is not as important, as the mere thought of it. They are visionaries.
That, however, does not prevent them from making a prescription or two for the city. The city should be unique and exotic, lying deep in the Tebe-Tebe valley. The architecture of every house will be done under specific building codes. It should be locally inspired, or mainly African.
Wherever possible, the building materials will be earthen and native. Such that they blend well with the surrounding landscape. The builders will choose aboriginal sandstone over concrete bricks. They will choose basalt and dolerite devoid of marmoran and gamazine. They will choose wood over metal. The streets will be paved with stone.
Few things will be in straight lines. So the residents will build the mekhoro and close their eyes to the polatas with glee. They will select thatch over corrugated iron.
The vegetation will be indigenous ONLY. And the city will breathe. It will breathe because there will be no high rise buildings. And there will be vegetable fences, makhoakhoa. And there will be paths—foot paths and horse paths. And there will be a network of them.
There will be no industrial parks. But there will be family factories, some sort of 19th century cottage industry. Viewed from the plateau of the ‘Mamathe, it will be the most amazing sight. You will have to pay for the sight. After all, “do you not already pay to be on the top of Table Mountain?” the proponents ask. If you do, the organic city will be more worth paying for, just to have a look at it!
This blog post was originally written by NUL Research and Innovations