The party had been well underway for hours when Thebe finally arrived. It was dark and the food was prepared, but no one seemed to care. They hollered and whooped as he made his way into the compound, dressed in a black gown, teal sash and black cap. He hugged his mother, then father and then me.
Thebe, my host brother, graduated from university last week. The whole village threw him a party that lasted until 7 a.m. the next morning and sacrificed three sheep and a pig. It was a well-deserved celebration.
Although Lesotho boosts one of the highest literacy rates in Africa, obtaining a degree is no small accomplishment. Sometimes, students drop out after primary school because it is free, and mandatory, and they can’t afford secondary school. Or they are unable to pass the standard national exam, which can be very specific and difficult, to exit high school. Despite it’s increasing lack of affordability, a college education is much more common in the U.S. than in Lesotho.
So, to earn a bachelor’s is quite the achievement and worthy of the large smile Thebe wore all night. Like many recent graduates in the U.S., Thebe doesn’t have a job lined up and knows that the employment market is bleak. Still, he did something amazing.
I was so proud of him that night. Thebe is bright young man with so many great ideas to help his fellow countrymen, and he has the motivation to follow them out. He understand what education means, something I preach to my students on nearly a daily basis, and knows that it is the answer to a good life.
Thebe inspires me, when I feel defeated with my work. He doesn’t let me quit, rather offers me three reasons of why to keep going. Lesotho is lucky to have him as a son.