A hiking club with a purpose

A hiking club with a purpose

MASERU (TNS, PALESA MATSASA) – Sea Point and Stadium Area are villages within Maseru town found around the main bus stop area. These villages are characterised by loud music coming from public bars, home brewing, night clubs and street fights among others.

The villages are popularly known as ‘lekeesheneng’ because of these characteristics which are not common in typical Basotho villages.

Mr. Seatile ‘Mzala’ Papashane and Mr. Aaron Mapetla who reside in Sea Point and Stadium Area, respectively had a vision to transform the views people have about lekeesheneng. They were concerned that young people in these communities spent most of their time in bars and shop fronts idling, which sometimes leads to the fights.

They wanted to promote a culture of an active lifestyle to encourage people to exercise. They formed Healthy Lifestyle Hikers and Friends hiking club, with the aim of bringing the community together for a good cause.

The club is not limited to Stadium Area and Sea Point residents. The extension ‘Friends’ is meant to accommodate anyone who is interested in being active, irrespective of where they reside or if they are registered with the club or not.

Asked how they raise awareness of the club within Sea Point and Stadium Area, they said they often visit the public bars after the walks, while wearing their hiking attire and this often attracts attention and people start asking questions. The message is also spread by word of mouth.

In February 2017, the duo mobilised people, mainly from Sea Point and Stadium Area, to participate in a walk from Stadium Area to Thaba Bosiu and have since organised hikes to different destinations. This Metro correspondent caught up with the club on Saturday when they were hiking the Qeme Plateau. The hike started from Ha Mantšebo and ended at Ha Teko, covering a distance of 15.9km which lasted about 7 hours.

Prior to a group hike, few club members conducted a process called ‘pathfinding’ where they ‘walked’ the proposed route to learn about its challenges in order to prepare the group adequately. During the actual hike, the group met the Chief of Pshatlella at Ha Mantšebo who gave them three local men to accompany and guide them to avoid initiation school routes and to be mindful of cattle posts.

All the ‘first timers’ finished the walk. The walk was relatively easy for those who are actively exercising.

Some said they just joined the walk without any preparation as they were not taking part in any sport. Notwithstanding this, they still successfully completed the hike – going up and down the mountain. The approach was friendly as they also had breaks during the walk. They felt they were motivated by the club members to stay on course.

The novice hikers noted the benefits of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and are now considering joining the club as members. They acknowledged the need to have proper attire and equipment for hiking, but the lack of it won’t be a deterrent. In the true sense of the club name, friends are now being converted to club members. Currently, there is no joining fee, but the plan is to have a small nominal fee of M50 to help the club grow.

The experienced hikers said Qeme offered them a different challenge. It required endurance to walk for a long distance for about five hours on top of the plateau. Some felt it was more challenging to descend the plateau than climbing it. They observed that the Qeme Plateau had a variety of historic places to be explored and would love to visit the place again, but taking different starting and finishing points.

In addition to promoting healthy lifestyles, the club also provides an opportunity for socialising. After the hike, the members had a well-deserved break while the caretakers hosted a braai. The group don’t only meet during hiking events. They also try to meet on a weekly basis to exercise as a team – through walking or jogging to maintain the team spirit.

It is the vision of the group to attract more members in order to promote healthy lifestyles among citizens.

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