It is with regret that the Festival Organisers announce what has become an inevitable decision. After much deliberation and soul-searching, we would like to officially notify all concerned that the 2014 Morija Arts & Cultural Festival, scheduled for 23-28 September, has been postponed. Many aspects of the Festival, like the Mohlomi Memorial Lecture, art and craft exhibitions, book launches, poetry sessions, wire car competitions, film, theatre, fashion, and so forth will be re-scheduled to a later date(s) in consultation with sponsors, partners and stakeholders.
Unfortunately, the culmination of the annual nation-wide School Cultural Competitions at Morija, which can only be held during the period 25-28 September, will have to be cancelled this year as it cannot be re-scheduled to a different time. Nonetheless, we commend all the primary and high schools that took part in these competitions at centre and district level, and the efforts of MOE officials and district committees that make these competitions possible. We encourage them to persevere until we meet again next year.
The decision to cancel the School Cultural Competitions and postpone the artistic and other aspects of the 2014 Morija Arts & Cultural Festival is largely a result of the current political and security situation in Lesotho. When we launched the Festival on 27 August, it was with the expectation that all of the remaining preparations for the festival would fall into place, but the existing climate in the country has made this very difficult. A large festival requires coordination and the active collaboration of a wide range of partners and sponsors if it is to succeed and achieve the intended results. Clearly the current situation in Lesotho has not been conducive to this process.
Moreover, it would be unwise and lacking in foresight to call thousands of students from all corners of Lesotho to participate in the School Cultural Competitions which culminate in Morija in late September, when the political and security situation in the country changes from one day to the next. No resolution seems imminent and thus it is now our duty to postpone the Morija Festival, hoping that the circumstances will allow us to hold a mini-Festival at a later date, or a series of smaller events. It is ironic perhaps, that an event which was established in 1999 as a positive call to unity and tolerance, to pride in our roots as well as a forward-looking and progressive culture, should now have to be postponed because of a resurgence of intolerance, animosity and an inability to chart a positive way forward.
We trust, however, that a genuine process of dialogue and introspection will allow us as a country to develop a deeper understanding of what needs to be done to heal the rifts that divide us and develop a positive and inclusive way forward for the nation.
The Festival Organisers will proceed with a Strategic Planning exercise during the period October/November this year in order to examine ways of re-structuring the Festival and other creative activities and processes at Morija so as to encourage greater participation, especially of youth. This is in line with the Festival’s desire to ‘re-define’ itself and develop a stronger platform for sustainable cultural industries, creativity, and a vibrant arts scene in the country.