A Man Called Khesa


I made my first trip to the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho mid-July 2017. I had fantasized a lot about travelling to the world’s only country submerged completely by another country and I had imagined what it would be like to exit South Africa’s borders into a new territory while still theoretically being surrounded by South Africa. The road trip was mostly smooth down an extensive highway surrounded by huge swathes of dry land on either side often interspersed by rock formations in the distance or grazing cows in the foreground. There was an abundance of road kill over the 418km stretch which was evidence of the carefree attitude of roaming rodents. There was next to zero police presence, and only a smattering of potholes. The border post at the entrance of Maseru was a breeze and the three ladies who approved my entry into the Kingdom must be the friendliest immigration officials in the world. The young man who sold me a SIM card for 10 Rands also couldn’t have been happier that day. Lesotho was going very well and I was loving it, but this is really a story about a man called Khesa Borotho.

In February 2016, I needed to make an important appointment to one of the executive positions for the African Leadership Academy Model African Union. I had worked with a collection of exceptional young leaders in implementing the conference for three previous years and I was facing one of the most testing periods of the year for me. It’s never easy to appoint one person to a position and disappoint many others who are equally deserving of the privilege, but I felt a need to do something unconventional. I called my trusted lieutenant from the outgoing team and asked for one recommendation for the position of Director of Administration; I needed someone who was incredibly organized, very strategic, able to manage a team effectively, apt at communication and very cooperative. He broke no sweat in offering up one name: Khesa Borotho. I had faint images of who that could be on a campus of about 200 people, but I asked him to help set up the meeting. Our entire conversation lasted little more than 15 minutes, but I was instantly convinced. Khesa had the role. The following 14 months proved me right; it was a delight to work with someone who was more interested in learning than grandstanding. Khesa’s versatility and hard work were some of the things that endeared him to me, but I was more enamoured by his willingness to seek feedback and to improve on every aspect of his game. I got used to casually calling him “Mr Borotho” and he would reply with “Mr Abiodun”. It was a sparsely-verbalized show of deep respect between us which I greatly cherished, so when I decided to make the trip to Lesotho, there was only one person to whom I would turn. Read more here.

This excerpt is taken from a blog post written by Faith Abiodun who is leads the Program Recruitment & Partnerships department at ALA. Faith is also Director of the International Relations Council, through which he organizes the ALA Model African Union to develop the next generation of African diplomatic leaders.