Thursday, 19 May 2011

The History of Lesotho

Here’s a short history of Lesotho and how it came to be a country.

Over 190 million years ago there were dinosaurs living in Lesotho. They may have died out long ago, but you can still see their footprints in a few parts of the country.

Many years later, but still 100,000 years ago, early man first lived in Lesotho (although it wasn’t called Lesotho then). The people were hunter gatherers and used stone tools. They didn’t farm the land at that time.

By 10,000 years ago, people had started using bows and arrows to hunt with. The San bushmen arrived about 2,000 years ago. They left a lot of paintings on rocks around the country that show us how they lived.

By 1820, nearly 200 years ago, Lesotho was still not one country, but a place where different tribes moved around, grazing their cattle. In 1824, a tribal chief called Moshoeshoe (pronounced Moshwayshway) persuaded other tribes to join him, to defend the land against lots of different invaders from what is now South Africa. He became the first king of Lesotho. The tribes spoke many different languages, so it was decided to have one language to unite the new country. Sesotho was this language.   

Moshoeshoe (in the picture to the left) and his tribes climbed to the top of a mountain called Thaba Bosiu to have a better place to see their enemies. (Thaba Bosiu means ‘mountain of the night’ – so called because it was believed that the mountain grew at night time.) Against all odds, the tribes managed to fight off the invaders and as the mountain became the safest place to be, more tribes came to join the new nation.

However, in the 1860s the threat from the Boer armies became too strong for the small nation to hold off, so Moshoeshoe asked for protection from the British. In 1868 Lesotho became a British protectorate (under British rule by request); then in the 1880s it became a British colony. This meant that the British government ran the country; they didn’t have their own government. Lesotho was then known as Basutoland, until the country gained independence from Britain in 1966.

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