August 1st Marks Beginning Of Basotho Calendar

By Akuba Mokoena

The 1st of August marks the beginning of the Basotho Calendar – Selemo sa Basotho – The New Year. The Basotho calendar commences after the last days of the dry season (mariha), otherwise known as the winter  season according to the Gregorian calendar used in most European countries and brought to Africa by colonisers. The New Year starts in August (Phato), known for blowing winds which symbolise the clearing of Mother Earth in preparation for new beginnings.

In line with other African calendars, albeit that they normally start in September, the Basotho calendar has the ploughing season followed by the harvesting and initiation seasons.

Throughout the ploughing season, Basotho hold rain-making ceremonies to pray and later thank the gods and royal ancestors for the rain and fertility of the soil. Later in the season, the seeds sown germinate and grow and thus nature is reborn. The new moon in December enjoins communities to begin preparations for First Fruits celebrations.

Ancient Africa had calendar systems centuries and centuries ago. Egypt had a calendar which was based on a 360 day year, composed of three seasons of four months apiece and thirty days per month. Although the calendar officially was 360 days, there was a separate period at the beginning of each year of five days. The Africans who used this calendar dedicated these year-opening days to feasts, celebrations and for the performance of sacred rites. It was in fact an extended New Years celebration and commemoration. http://www.panafricanperspective.com/calendar/ 

The African calendars were based on star or celestial maps containing solar arks known as zodiacs. The celestial maps show that the universe is a living organism consisting of parts that are inter-connected, inter-related and inter-dependent. The earth and humanity are parts of this living organism. In African thought a calendar was not an arbitrary organisation of the days of the year but a record of the spiritual and physical order and administration of the affairs of the universe http://www.kara.co.za/
In ancient cultures, calendars were not an organisation of days, but a record of the physical and spiritual order. Physically these times of change were quite important as they marked the planting period or the start of the harvesting period and the storing of food for the winter.
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