The history of people living in the area now known as Lesotho (/ləˈsuːtuː, -ˈsoʊtoʊ/) goes back as many as 40,000 years. The present Lesotho (then called Basutoland) emerged as a single polity under paramount chief Moshoeshoe I in 1822. Under Moshoeshoe I, Basutoland joined other tribes in their struggle against the Lifaqane associated with the reign of Shaka Zulu from 1818 to 1828.
Subsequent evolution of the state was shaped by contact with the British and Dutch colonists from Cape Colony. Missionaries invited by Moshoeshoe I developed orthography and printed works in the Sotho language between 1837 and 1855. The country set up diplomatic channels and acquired guns for use against the encroaching Europeans and the Korana people. Territorial conflicts with both British and Boer settlers arose periodically, including Moshoeshoe's notable victory over the Boers in the Free State–Basotho War, but the final war in 1867 with an appeal to Queen Victoria, who agreed to make Basutoland a British suzerainty. In 1869, the British signed a treaty at Aliwal with the Boers that defined the boundaries of Basutoland and later Lesotho, which by ceding the western territories effectively reduced Moshoeshoe's kingdom to half its previous size.
The extent to which the British exerted direct control over Basutoland waxed and waned until Basutoland's independence in 1966, when it became the Kingdom of Lesotho. However, when the ruling Basotho National Party (BNP) lost the first post-independence general elections to the Basotho Congress Party (BCP), Leabua Jonathan refused to cede and declared himself Tona Kholo (Sesotho translation of prime minister). The BCP began an insurrection that culminated in a January 1986 military coup forced the BNP out of office. Power was transferred to King Moshoeshoe II, until then a ceremonial monarch, but forced into exile when he lost favour with the military the following year. His son was installed as King Letsie III. Conditions remained tumultuous, including an August 1994 self-coup by Letsie III, until 1998 when the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) came to power in elections which were deemed fair by international observers. Despite protests from opposition parties, the country has remained relatively stable since.
At some stage during their migration south from a tertiary dispersal area Bantu speaking peoples came to settle the lands that now make up Lesotho as well as a more extensive territory of fertile lands that surround modern day Lesotho. These people spoke a unique "South Sotho" dialect seSotho and called themselves the Basotho. There were several severe disruptions to the Basotho peoples in the early 19th century. One view states that the first of these were marauding Zulu clans, displaced from Zululand as part of the Lifaqane (or Mfecane), wrought havoc on the Basotho peoples they encountered as they moved first west and then north. The second that no sooner than the Zulu has passed to the north than the first Voortrekkers arrived, some of whom obtained hospitality during their difficult trek north. Early Voortrekker accounts describe how the lands surrounding the mountain retreat of the Basotho had been burnt and destroyed, in effect leaving a vacuum that subsequent Voortrekkers began to occupy.
However, this interpretation of history for the entire southern region of Africa is a matter of dispute. One attempt at refutation came by Norman Etherington in The Great Treks: The Transformation of Southern Africa, 1815-1854 (Longman, 2001). Etherington argues that no such thing as the Mfecane occurred, the Zulu were no more marauding than any other group in the region, and the land the Voortrekkers saw as empty was not settled by either Zulu or Basotho because those people did not value open lowland plains as pasture.
In 1818, Moshoeshoe I /moʊˈʃweɪʃweɪ/ consolidated various Basotho groupings and became their king. During Moshoeshoe's reign (1823–1870), a series of wars (1856–68) were fought with the Boers who had settled in traditional Basotho lands. These wars resulted in the extensive loss of land, now known as the "Lost Territory".
A treaty was signed with the Boers of Griqualand in 1843 and an agreement was made with the British in 1853 following a minor war. The disputes with the Boers over land, however, were revived in 1858 with Senekal's War and again, more seriously, in 1865 with the Seqiti War. The Boers had a number of military successes, killing possibly 1,500 Basotho soldiers, and annexed an expanse of arable land which they were able to retain following a treaty at Thaba Bosiu. Further conflict led to an unsuccessful attack on Thaba Bosiu and the death of a Boer commandant, Louw Wepener, but by 1867, much of Moshoeshoe's land and most of his fortresses had been taken.
Fearing defeat, Moshoeshoe made further appeals to High Commissioner Philip Edmond Wodehouse for British assistance. On 12 March 1868, the British Cabinet agreed to place the territory under British protection and the Boers were ordered to leave. In February 1869, the British and the Boers agreed to the Convention of Aliwal North, which defined the boundaries of the protectorate. The arable land west of the Caledon River remained in Boer hands and is referred to as the Lost or Conquered Territory. Moshoeshoe died in 1870 and was buried atop Thaba Bosiu.
In 1871 the protectorate was annexed to Cape Colony. The Basotho resisted the British and in 1879 a southern chief, Moorosi, rose in revolt. His campaign was crushed, and he was killed in the fighting. The Basotho then began to fight amongst themselves over the division of Moorosi's lands. The British extended the Cape Peace Preservation Act of 1878 to cover Basutoland and attempted to disarm the natives. Much of the colony rose in revolt in the Gun War (1880-1881), inflicting significant casualties upon the colonial British forces sent to subdue it. A peace treaty of 1881 failed to quell sporadic fighting.
Cape Town's inability to control the territory led to its return to crown control in 1884 as the Territory of Basutoland. The colony was bound by the Orange River Colony, Natal Colony, and Cape Colony. It was divided into seven administrative districts: Berea, Leribe, Maseru, Mohale's Hoek, Mafeteng, Qacha's Nek and Quthing. The colony was ruled by the British Resident Commissioner, who worked through the pitso (national assembly) of hereditary native chiefs under one paramount chief. Each chief ruled a ward within the territory. The first paramount chief was Lerothodi, the son of Moshoeshoe. During the Second Boer War the colony was neutral. The population grew from around 125,000 in 1875, to 310,000 in 1901, and to 349,000 by 1904.
When the Union of South Africa was founded in 1910 the colony was still controlled by the British and moves were made to transfer it to the Union. However the people of Basutoland opposed this and when the National Party put its apartheid policies into place the possibility of annexation was halted. In 1959, a new constitution gave Basutoland its first elected legislature. This was followed in April 1965 with general legislative elections.
The differing fates of the seSotho-speaking peoples in the Protectorate of Basotholand and in the lands that became the Orange Free State are worth noting. The Orange Free State became a Boer-ruled territory. At the end of the Boer War, it was colonised by the British, and this colony was subsequently incorporated by Britain into the Union of South Africa as one of four provinces. It is still part of the modern day Republic of South Africa, now known as the Free State. In contrast, Basotholand, along with the two other British Protectorates in the sub-Saharan region (Bechuanaland and Swaziland), was precluded from incorporation into the Union of South Africa. These protectorates were individually brought to independence by Britain in the 1960s. By becoming a protectorate, Basotholand and its inhabitants were not subjected to Afrikaner rule, which saved them from experiencing Apartheid, and so generally prospered under more benevolent British rule. Basotho residents of Basotholand had access to better health services and to education, and came to experience greater political emancipation through independence. These lands protected by the British, however, had a much smaller capacity to generate income and wealth than had the "lost territory", which had been granted to the Boers.
After a 1955 request by the Basutoland Council to legislate its internal affairs, in 1959 a new constitution gave Basutoland its first elected legislature. This was followed in April 1965 with general legislative elections with universal adult suffrage in which the Basotho National Party (BNP) won 31 and the Basutoland Congress Party (BCP) won 25 of the 65 seats contested.
On October 4, 1966, the Kingdom of Lesotho attained full independence, governed by a constitutional monarchy with a bicameral Parliament consisting of a Senate and an elected National Assembly. Early results of the first post-independence elections in January 1970 indicated that the Basotho National Party (BNP) might lose control. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Chief Leabua Jonathan, the ruling BNP refused to cede power to the rival Basotholand Congress Party (BCP), although the BCP was widely believed to have won the elections. Citing election irregularities, Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan nullified the elections, declared a national state of emergency, suspended the constitution, and dissolved the Parliament. In 1973, an appointed Interim National Assembly was established. With an overwhelming progovernment majority, it was largely the instrument of the BNP, led by Prime Minister Jonathan. In addition to the Jonathan regime's alienation of Basotho powerbrokers and the local population, South Africa had virtually closed the country's land borders because of Lesotho support of cross-border operations of the African National Congress (ANC). Moreover, South Africa publicly threatened to pursue more direct action against Lesotho if the Jonathan government did not root out the ANC presence in the country. This internal and external opposition to the government combined to produce violence and internal disorder in Lesotho that eventually led to a military takeover in 1986.
Under a January 1986 Military Council decree, state executive and legislative powers were transferred to the King who was to act on the advice of the Military Council, a self-appointed group of leaders of the Royal Lesotho Defense Force (RLDF). A military government chaired by Justin Lekhanya ruled Lesotho in coordination with King Moshoeshoe II and a civilian cabinet appointed by the King.
In February 1990, King Moshoeshoe II was stripped of his executive and legislative powers and exiled by Lekhanya, and the Council of Ministers was purged. Lekhanya accused those involved of undermining discipline within the armed forces, subverting existing authority, and causing an impasse on foreign policy that had been damaging to Lesotho's image abroad. Lekhanya announced the establishment of the National Constituent Assembly to formulate a new constitution for Lesotho with the aim of returning the country to democratic, civilian rule by June 1992. Before this transition, however, Lekhanya was ousted in 1991 by a mutiny of junior army officers that left Phisoane Ramaema as Chairman of the Military Council.
Because Moshoeshoe II initially refused to return to Lesotho under the new rules of the government in which the King was endowed only with ceremonial powers, Moshoeshoe's son was installed as King Letsie III. In 1992, Moshoeshoe II returned to Lesotho as a regular citizen until 1995 when King Letsie abdicated the throne in favor of his father. After Moshoeshoe II died in a car accident in 1996, King Letsie III ascended to the throne again.
In 1993, a new constitution was implemented leaving the King without any executive authority and proscribing him from engaging in political affairs. Multiparty elections were then held in which the BCP ascended to power with a landslide victory. Prime Minister Ntsu Mokhehle headed the new BCP government that had gained every seat in the 65-member National Assembly. In early 1994, political instability increased as first the army, followed by the police and prisons services, engaged in mutinies. In August 1994, King Letsie III, in collaboration with some members of the military, staged a coup, suspended Parliament, and appointed a ruling council. As a result of domestic and international pressures, however, the constitutionally elected government was restored within a month.
In 1995, there were isolated incidents of unrest, including a police strike in May to demand higher wages. For the most part, however, there were no serious challenges to Lesotho's constitutional order in the 1995-96 period. In January 1997, armed soldiers put down a violent police mutiny and arrested the mutineers.
In 1997, tension within the BCP leadership caused a split in which Dr. Mokhehle abandoned the BCP and established the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) followed by two-thirds of the parliament. This move allowed Mokhehle to remain as Prime Minister and leader of a new ruling party, while relegating the BCP to opposition status. The remaining members of the BCP refused to accept their new status as the opposition party and ceased attending sessions. Multiparty elections were again held in May 1998.
Although Mokhehle completed his term as Prime Minister, due to his failing health, he did not vie for a second term in office. The elections saw a landslide victory for the LCD, gaining 79 of the 80 seats contested in the newly expanded Parliament. As a result of the elections, Mokhehle's Deputy Prime Minister, Pakalitha Mosisili, became the new Prime Minister. The landslide electoral victory caused opposition parties to claim that there were substantial irregularities in the handling of the ballots and that the results were fraudulent. The conclusion of the Langa Commission, a commission appointed by Southern African Development Community (SADC) to investigate the electoral process, however, was consistent with the view of international observers and local courts that the outcome of the elections was not affected by these incidents. Despite the fact that the election results were found to reflect the will of the people, opposition protests in the country intensified. The protests culminated in a violent demonstration outside the royal palace in early August 1998 and in an unprecedented level of violence, looting, casualties, and destruction of property. In early September, junior members of the armed services mutinied. The Government of Lesotho requested that a SADC task force intervene to prevent a military coup and restore stability to the country. To this end, Operation Boleas, consisting of South African and (later) Botswana troops, entered Lesotho on September 22, 1998 to put down the mutiny and restore the democratically elected government. The army mutineers were brought before a court-martial.
After stability returned to Lesotho, the SADC task force withdrew from the country in May 1999, leaving only a small task force (joined by Zimbabwean troops) to provide training to the LDF. In the meantime, an Interim Political Authority (IPA), charged with reviewing the electoral structure in the country, was created in December 1998 and devised a proportional electoral system to ensure that there be opposition in the National Assembly. The new system retained the existing 80 elected Assembly seats, but added 40 seats to be filled on a proportional basis. Elections were held under this new system in May 2002, and the LCD won again, gaining 54% of the vote. For the first time, however, opposition political parties won significant numbers of seats, and despite some irregularities and threats of violence from Major General Lekhanya, Lesotho experienced its first peaceful election. Nine opposition parties now hold all 40 of the proportional seats, with the BNP having the largest share (21). The LCD has 79 of the 80 constituency-based seats.
In June 2014, Prime Minister Thomas Thabane suspended parliament because of conflict within his coalition, leading to criticisms that he was undermining the government. In August, after Thabane attempted to remove Lieutenant General Kennedy Tlai Kamoli from the head of the army, the Prime Minister fled the country alleging a coup was taking place. Kamoli denied that any coup had occurred.
Basutoland was a British Crown colony established in 1884 due to the Cape Colony's inability to control the territory. It was divided into seven administrative districts: Berea, Leribe, Maseru, Mohale's Hoek, Mafeteng, Qacha's Nek and Quthing.Basutoland was renamed the Kingdom of Lesotho upon its independence from the United Kingdom on 4 October 1966.Battle of Berea
The Battle of Berea took place on 20 December 1852 during the Kaffir Wars in what was then Basutoland (now Lesotho). The confrontation was between an ill-planned English punitive expedition led by Major-General Sir George Cathcart and the native forces of the Sotho chief Moshoeshoe and resulted in the English forces being repulsed.Caledon River
The Caledon River (Sotho: Mohokare) is a major river located in central South Africa, rising in the Drakensberg Mountains on the Lesotho border, flowing southwestward and then westward before joining the Orange River near Bethulie in the southern Free State.Free State–Basotho Wars
The Free State–Basotho Wars refers to a series of wars fought between King Moshoeshoe I, the ruler of the Basotho kingdom, and the white settlers, in what is now known as the Free State. These can be divided into the Senekal's War of 1858, the Seqiti War in 1865−1866 and the Third Basotho War in 1867−68.These three wars were fought over the territorial rights in the area between the Caledon and Orange rivers; from present day Wepener to Zastron, and the area north of the Caledon River, which includes present day Harrismith and the area further westwards. The wars resulted in the white settlers acquiring large tracts of land from Basotho, and the Basotho eventually accepting annexation as a part of the British Empire.History of Eswatini
Artifacts indicating human activity dating back to the early Stone Age have been found in the Kingdom of Eswatini (known as Swaziland for most of its history). Prehistoric rock art paintings date from c. 25,000 B.C. and continuing up to the 19th century can be found in various places around the country.
The country now derives its name from a later king named Mswati II. Jn, named for Ngwane III, is an alternative name for Swaziland the surname of whose royal house remains Nkosi Dlamini. Nkosi literally means "king". Mswati II was the greatest of the fighting kings of Swaziland, and he greatly extended the area of the country to twice its current size. The Emakhandzambili clans were initially incorporated into the kingdom with wide autonomy, often including grants of special ritual and political status. The extent of their autonomy however was drastically curtailed by Mswati, who attacked and subdued some of them in the 1850s. With his power, Mswati greatly reduced the influence of the Emakhandzambili while incorporating more people into his kingdom either through conquest or by giving them refuge. These later arrivals became known to the Swazis as Emafikamuva. The clans like the Mbokanes and others who accompanied the Dlamini kings were known as the Bemdzabuko or true Swazi.
The autonomy of the Swaziland nation was influenced by British and Dutch rule of southern Africa in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1881 the British government signed a convention recognising Swazi independence despite the Scramble for Africa that was taking place at the time. This independence was also recognised in the convention of 1884. However, because of controversial land/mineral rights and other concessions, Swaziland had a triumviral administration in 1890 following the death of King Mbandzeni in 1889. This government represented the British, the Dutch republics and the Swazi people. Finally, in 1894, a convention placed Swaziland under the South African Republic as a protectorate. This continued under the rule of Ngwane V until the outbreak of the Second Boer War in October 1899. King Ngwane V died in December 1899 during incwala after the outbreak of the Boer war when his successor, Sobhuza, was only four months old. Swaziland was indirectly involved in the war with various skirmishes between the British and the Boers occurring in the country until 1902.
In 1903, after British victory in the Anglo-Boer war, Swaziland became a British protectorate. Much of its early administration (for example, postal services) being carried out from South Africa until 1906 when the Transvaal colony was granted self-government. Following this, Swaziland was partitioned into European and non-European (or "native reserves") areas with the former being two thirds of the total land. Sobhuza's official coronation was in December 1921 after the regency of Labotsibeni after which he led an unsuccessful deputation to the Privy council in London in 1922 regarding the issue of the land. In the period between 1923 and 1963, Sobhuza established the Swazi Commercial Amadoda which was to grant licences to small businesses on the Swazi reserves and also established the Swazi National School to counter the dominance of the missions in education. His stature grew with time and the Swazi royal leadership was successful in resisting the weakening power of the British administration and the incorporation of Swaziland into the Union of South Africa.The constitution for independent Swaziland was promulgated by Britain in November 1963 under the terms of which legislative and executive councils were established. This development was opposed by the Swazi National Council (liqoqo). Despite such opposition, elections took place and the first Legislative Council of Swaziland was constituted on 9 September 1964. Changes to the original constitution proposed by the Legislative Council were accepted by Britain and a new constitution providing for a House of Assembly and Senate was drawn up. Elections under this constitution were held in 1967. Swaziland was briefly a Protected State until Britain granted it full independence in 1968.
Following the elections of 1973, the constitution of Swaziland was suspended by King Sobhuza II who thereafter ruled the country by decree until his death in 1982. At this point Sobhuza II had ruled Swaziland for 83 years, making him the longest ruling monarch in history. A regency followed his death, with Queen Regent Dzeliwe Shongwe being head of state until 1984 when she was removed by Liqoqo and replaced by Queen Mother Ntombi Twala. Mswati III, the son of Ntombi, was crowned king on 25 April 1986 as King and Ingwenyama of Swaziland.History of rail transport in Lesotho
This article is part of the history of rail transport by country series
The history of rail transport in Lesotho began in 1905, when the landlocked nation of Lesotho was connected with the railway network of South Africa. The two nations have remained connected by a single railway line ever since.John Sturrock (colonial administrator)
Sir John Christian Ramsay Sturrock CMG (20 March 1875 – 13 February 1937) was a British colonial administrator. He served as Resident Commissioner in Basutoland, from 1926 to 1935.Lesotho Liberation Army
The Lesotho Liberation Army (LLA) was a guerrilla movement in Lesotho, formed in the mid-1970s and connected to the anti-Apartheid Azanian People's Liberation Army (APLA). It was the armed wing of the Basutoland Congress Party (BCP), a pan-Africanist and left-wing political party founded in 1952, which opposed the regime of Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan.
The BCP won the first free elections in 1970, but the ruling Basutoland National Party declared a state of emergency, annulling the election, dissolving parliament and suspending the constitution. The BCP launched a failed uprising in the government in 1974, which caused Ntsu Mokhehle to go into exile, from which he led the "external" faction of the BCP and the new armed wing, the Lesotho Liberation Army. The new guerrilla movement was closely connected to the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC), a South African militant opposition group. Potlako Leballo, a co-founder of the BCP back in 1952, was a prominent leader to the PAC and its armed wing, and largely responsible for its turn towards Maoism.In 1976, the Azanian People's Liberation Army received 178 Basotho migrant miners as recruits, who would form the basis of the Lesotho Liberation Army (LLA). They were trained in Libya, where the government of Muammar Gaddafi provided training to the APLA. These recruits were put under the leadership of Matooane Mapefane, who was a senior instructor of the APLA in Libya. The movement was deeply fractured from the start, with factional infighting among the recruits and a lack of discipline.The first LLA attacks began in May 1979, with a bombing targeting the country's main post office. In 1979 Mokhehle claimed to, in addition to the Libyan-trained troops, possess 500–1000 guerrillas based in the deep mountains of Lesotho. Fighting with the government was intense in 1979–1980, and terrorist attacks by the LLA were frequent over the next few years, with incidents such as the laying of land mines, bombings, mortar attacks, and drive-by shootings. Targets included the Leribe Airport, the Hilton Hotel, policemen, politicians, petroleum and electricity infrastructure, a United States cultural center, and the West German ambassador's car.Prime Minister Jonathan, previously a close ally of the Apartheid government in South Africa, gradually started straying from its fold, eventually going as far as aiding the African National Congress. In response, P. W. Botha is said to have funded the LLA, despite the massive ideological differences, and allowed the guerrillas to pass through South African territory. Despite this association, the connection to the Pan-Africanist Congress wasn't cut. A brother of the leading ANC member Thabo Mbeki, Jama (who was involved with the PAC), was killed in Lesotho in 1982 while attempting to assist the LLA. After increased conflict between Lesotho and South Africa, Jonathan was overthrown in a military coup led by Justin Lekhanya, who is alleged to have accidentally funded the LLA after being subjected to a scam.
Ntsu Mokhehle was allowed to return to Lesotho in the early 1990s for peace talks, and the Lesotho Liberation Army was disbanded after the reunification of the Basutoland Congress Party's different factions. The party subsequently won the 1993 general elections, and Mokhehle became Prime Minister.Lesotho–United States relations
Lesotho–United States relations are bilateral relations between the Kingdom of Lesotho and the United States of America.List of flags by number of colors
Flags of the world's nations vary in the number of colors, ranging from one color to more than ten.Moshoeshoe I
Moshoeshoe () (c. 1786 – 11 March 1870) was born at Menkhoaneng in the northern part of present-day Lesotho. He was the first son of Mokhachane, a minor chief of the Bamokoteli lineage- a branch of the Koena (crocodile) clan. In his early childhood, he helped his father gain power over some other smaller clans. At the age of 34 Moshoeshoe formed his own clan and became a chief. He and his followers settled at the Butha-Buthe Mountain.National Assembly (Lesotho)
The National Assembly is the lower chamber of Lesotho's bicameral Parliament.Outline of Lesotho
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Lesotho:
Lesotho – sovereign country located in Southern Africa. Lesotho is an enclave completely surrounded by the Republic of South Africa. Formerly Basutoland, it is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The name Lesotho roughly translates into "the land of the people who speak Sesotho."Postage stamps and postal history of Lesotho
This is a survey of the postage stamps and postal history of Lesotho, formerly known as Basutoland.Revenue stamps of Basutoland and Lesotho
Basutoland, now known as Lesotho, first issued revenue stamps in 1900 and continues to do so.Senate (Lesotho)
The Senate of Lesotho (Sotho: Senate ea Lesotho) is the upper chamber of the Parliament of Lesotho, which along with the National Assembly of Lesotho — the lower chamber — comprises the legislature of Lesotho.The current Senate has a total of 33 members. 22 are hereditary tribal chiefs and 11 are nominated by the King through the Prime minister's advice. Members serve five-year terms.
Mamonaheng Mokitimi is the current president of the Senate. She succeeded Prince Seeiso Bereng Seeiso.Southern African Development Community intervention in Lesotho
The Southern African Development Community intervention in Lesotho, codenamed Operation Boleas, was a military invasion launched by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and led by South Africa through its South African National Defence Force into Lesotho to quell a coup d'état.
States with limited