The Bonnini Homestay & Art Residency is based in Semonkong, Lesotho. Approximately 120 Km
southeast of Maseru, there is a highland Village called Semonkong. Semonkong village
hails with a previous night soot around fire places, and the name hints to the common
drolls of mighty smoke through thick thatches of round stone huts and the scenic
smoky single drop cast magically by the Maletsunyane waterfall descending 200m into
a mystic mysterious gorge.
In winter, the grass is wet with majestic dew and the thin sun rays radiate over the hills.
When caskets of ice slowly melts over the rivers and mountain cliffs, we know that the
spring has arrived, and soon we will be listening to melodies of frogs and regular sight
of birds and general feeling of summer warmth is seen through the animals running
wild and people taking off their colourful basotho blankets.
The people of this little up and coming town are slowly adapting to the new norms that
come with modernity such as accompanying visitors to the waterfall and hosting
semonkong annual horse raises as a village sport. Most of the villagers live off land, and
the new generation is working in local chinese stores to make ends meet. The main
urban clothing store is PEP and there is one Lodge, and one guest house so far.
Bonnini Homestay & Art Residency is a new form of accommodation with an artistic expression and
a strong nerve for cultural integration and community upliftment. 99% of the Semonkong people have not
seen the world outside the Lesotho mountains. A creative hub like BAR where they will
get the opportunity to interact with travelers through arts and culture projects will be
economically enriching, and socially fulfilling while projecting the community's dreams
and tribulations to the outside world.
Bonnini Art Residency comes from Mannini Mokhothu’s passion for the arts and her
desire to connect people from different cultures. The name Bonnini was inspired in
2009 after Mokhothu’s expedition with South African writer, Antjie Krog, when she
served as Krog’s interlocutor, gently challenging and guiding the author through her
experience of growing up in rural Lesotho. As Krog stepped into Semonkong Village
where Mokhothu grew up, their conversations grew intense beyond their skin colors,
punctuated by diverse cultural histories – what they each brought to the journey and
what they might have to regrettably leave behind.
After ten days in Lesotho, and unable to imagine how they could negotiate the brave
new garden of cross-cultural clashes, entangled resonances, misunderstandings and
ultimately uneasy reconciliation, Krog was soon calling her interpreter Bonnini, a
character that was later featured in Krog’s seminal book, Begging to Be Black. Bonnini
Art Residency is therefore Mokhothu’s way of extending the dialogue between herself
and Krog by including the community that made her in cross-cultural exchange using
creative mechanisms for self-expression. By inviting socially conscious travelers like
Krog as well as artists to the Residency, she hopes to create a space where artistic
talents and voices may open our eyes and our hearts to a bigger picture of who we are
beyond the borders of our skin, education or economic background.
Where we are now
We are currently in the developmental phase of the Residency with construction of the
physical community arts space and visitor accommodation.
One shared dorm, sleeping 6 people with 6 beds. Compost toilet, dining area have been realised.