Lesotho: Peaceful Elections You Did Not Hear About

Lesotho held peaceful parliamentary elections on Sunday. The ruling Democratic Congress of Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili won most votes but fell short of the required majority. Lesotho opposition parties have formed a coalition in order to form government.

Why is Western mainstream media not telling you about Lesotho's peaceful election? JohnsonJJ says you should not be surprised. He explains how Western pundits decide what is newsworthy in Africa:

It’s unsurprising that this has garnered little attention. In fact, the country receives very little international media attention except in the form of poverty porn that stresses how horrible, destitute and AIDS-ridden Lesotho is.

A voter in Lesotho supporting Prime Minister Phakalitha Mosisili. Photo courtesy of Simon Allison&dailymaverick.co.za

Lesotho, he argues, is too insignificant to sell in the United States:

The media establishment knows us pretty well. It knows that simplistic – sensationalized – stories sell in America. We’re not so great with nuance. This is why we were so sold on the idea, for example, that the Rwandan genocide was the result of “ancient ethnic hatreds” rather than geopolitical context. It’s also how we learned that failed state Somalia failed mainly because of its hordes of angry terrorists obsessed with killing Americans. And it’s how we came to learn that all African children have distended bellies and flies on their faces all day. It’s also how we learned from (the ever-obtuse) Nicholas Kristof that most African women suffer from “female genital mutilation” and that FGM poses the greatest threat to women on the entire continent.

It’s that Lesotho is too small and insignificant to warrant our attention, and in any case, a tiny country with a burgeoning civil society? That’s never going to sell in the United States. If our uncritical engagement with media is any indication, we’re not even particularly engaged with our own.

Zachary Rosen notes that even when Lesotho receives media coverage, the articles are usually about AIDS and poverty:

The little coverage it does garner often assumes readers are completely ignorant and takes great pains to emphasize dismal statistics about rates of HIV/AIDS and poverty.

Overall, few articles have attempted to move beyond superficialities and actually delve into the complexities of the local political atmosphere and the implications of the election outcome.

Well, even South African media ignored Lesotho elections. Lesotho is completely surrounded by South Africa.

@fanamokoena: It's embarrassing that SA media gives us daily updates on French elections but fail to do the same for sister country Lesotho. Irresponsible

@BelindaaPheto: Saddening to see SA's media houses showing little or no interest on the Lesotho elections.

@simonallison: Strange but true: I was the only journalist from any SA print or online pub. covering Lesotho elections. All other content from wires. Crazy

@sheofnations: @simonallison Makes sense for Int'l content,but it's highly problematic that news about the continent is filtered through Int'l media houses

@simonallison: @sheofnations yep, almost everything we read about Africa in SA is handpicked by European and American editors for their audiences…

Lesotho is a landlocked country completely surrounded by South Africa. It is a constitutional monarchy. The Prime Minister is head of government while the king has ceremonial function. The name Lesotho translates roughly into the land of the people who speak Sesotho.

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