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Lesotho

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The flag and coat of arms of Lesotho are shown above.

Known as Basutoland, established as a British crown colony in 1884. Called the Kingdom of Lesotho upon its independence from Great Britain in 1966, October 4.

Between 1816 and 1840, a series of wars “raged across the breadth of the subcontinent.” Pg 263.  Named Mfecane, “the crushing” by the Nguninof the south-east, and named Difaqane, or lifaqane, “the scattering” by the Sothi-Tswana of the highveld.  The political map was transformed

Competition for resources was common and included cattle raids.  Shaka was a military commander among the Zulus along the Indian Ocean coast.  By 1819 he had established himself as ruler of the Zulu.  Shaka had introduced military innovations from his rivals and improved their efficiencies and so evolved into a dominating military force.  He introduced a short stabbing sword and drilled his regiments in warfare.  In 1828 Shaka was assassinated by his half brother and the kingdom soon declined.1

Moshoeshoe gained reputation as an able military leader and many applied to him for protection.   In 1824 he moved his people to a plateau a strong defensive position able to witstand a lengthy siege.2

  His kingdom grew, not as a centralized state, but as a “loose federation of semi-independent chiefdoms”.3

  He was a brilliant diplomat, working with weaker and stronger neighbors alike.

Moshoeshoe invited missionaries to settle in his kingdom, his motive being political rather than religious.  The relation led to trade and the import of guns and horse which, in the 1830s and 1840s made Moshoeshoe’s kingdom “one of the most formidable powers in southern Africa.”4

In 1868 Moshoeshoe requested annexation to the British, saving the Sotho from annihilation.5

The Union of South Africa was formed in 1910 with an expectation that Sotho and other regions would eventually be incorporated in some form of political union.  Developing political crises in the 1950s culminating in the March 1960 Sharpeville crisis removed all such expectations.  Political parties were then allowed by Great Britain and moves were made towards ultimate independence. In 1966 Lesotho gained independence and prime minister, the paramount chief, took the name of King Moshoeshoe II.6

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Footnotes

  1. Kevin Shillington, History of Africa, Third Edition, (Palgrave MacMillan), page(s) 265-267
  2. Kevin Shillington, History of Africa,
    Third Edition, (Palgrave MacMillan), page(s) 268
  3. Kevin
    Shillington, History of Africa, Third Edition, (Palgrave MacMillan),
    page(s) 268
  4. Kevin Shillington, History of Africa, Third Edition, (Palgrave MacMillan), page(s) 269
  5. Kevin Shillington, History of Africa, Third Edition, (Palgrave MacMillan), page(s) 278
  6. Kevin Shillington, History of Africa, Third Edition, (Palgrave MacMillan), page(s) 432