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« Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #25 of 54: Kenya | Main | Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #27 of 54: Liberia »

June 12, 2006

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #26 of 54: Lesotho

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) ---
Flag of Lesotho

Formal Name: Republic of Lesotho.

Term for Citizens: Basotho.

Capital: Maseru. Population: 271, 000.

Independence Achieved: October 4, 1966, from Britain.

Major Cities: Maseru.


Lesotho is estimated to be 11, 720 square miles. Lesotho is in South Africa and is completely surrounded by the Union of South Africa and is landlocked. Lesotho is a country of rolling hills, some 6000-7000 feet high. The Drakensburg Mountain range is at the eastern end of Lesotho. Two main rivers of Southern Africa originate in these mountains, the Orange and the Tugela. Lesotho is mostly grassland, with few trees. Only 10% of the land is suitable for agriculture. The climate of Lesotho is subtropical.


The population of Lesotho is estimated at 1,802,000.

Ethnic Groups: Lesotho has one ethnic group, the Basotho. However, some Zulu, from neighboring Zululand, live in Lesotho.

Languages: Sesotho. English is the official language.

Religion: Christianity and residual indigenous beliefs.

Education: Primary education is available to all students of school age. Literacy rate is estimated at 84.8%.

Economy: Livestock is a main industry. Maize is the most important cash crop. Some diamond mining. Lesotho heavily depends on South Africa and there is very little paid employment in the country. About half of the men go to South Africa to seek work. GDP estimate: $5.6 billion; Per Capita GDP: $2, 700. The monetary Unit: Loti (LSL).

History and Government:

Lesotho had a history as a monarchy. Moshoeshoe, a minor chief organized the other chiefs into a powerful kingdom called Basotholand in 1821. Zulu raids and Boer encroachment led the Basotho kings to seek British protection and Lesotho became a formal British colony in the 1870s. Basotholand gained independence from Britain in the 1960s and was ruled by one of its minor chiefs, Chief Leabua Jonathan until 1986 when a military coup ousted him from office. The paraphernalia of democracy is all in place but the chiefs ruling the various Sotho clans play a strong role in the governance of Lesotho. The country is divided into10 districts.


The original people in the area now called Lesotho were the Khoisan or Bushmen. Eventually, the Bantus, spreading from their West African home, reached South Africa and displaced the Bushmen. The Sotho is a Bantu group.

During the 19th century, Britain declared the area a British protectorate, the protectorate of Basutoland (1868).

In 1966 the country was granted independence and Leabua Jonathan became the Prime Minster. Mr. Jonathan clamped down on opposition parties, and the later went underground and formed Lesotho Liberation Army and a civil war began.

In 1986 there was a military coup that finally removed the rule of Jonathan and his Basutoland National Party. The military adventurers initially made the king, King, Moshoeshoe, who was hitherto ceremonial, an executive king. Another wing of the military, apparently, did not like this event and forced the king to abdicate and go into exile and made his son, Letsie, the king. The later engaged in the politics of trying to restore his father to the throne.

This back and fort went on until the 1990s when after the intervention of South Africa a new election was held and Ntsu Mokhenle became the prime minister. The 2002 election saw Mr. Mosisili and his LCD come to governance.

Lesotho has a constitutional monarchy. The country is divided into ten districts.

Considering that over 99% of the people of Lesotho are of Sotho ethnic group, the government ought to be more united and focused in serving its people.

The only thing that seems to be going well for Lesotho is the management of its water resources. Water is in abundance and is sold to water starved South Africa.

Lesotho politicians seem in office to seek their egoistic goals; the improvement of the public seems the last thing in their minds. Lesotho is one of the poorest countries in Africa and the people have to go to South Africa to seek employment.

HIV-AIDS ravages the people and the government’s intervention is anything to be desired. The government is still trying to come up with a “Programme’ to address the AIDS epidemic, twenty five years after the outbreak of that disease that has affected over 30% of Lesotho’s population! Perhaps the government will finally come up with a plan to address the AIDS pandemic when the entire country is a cemetery.

Posted by Administrator at June 12, 2006 02:52 AM


Just one little comment. Lesotho is not a republic; it is a ruled by a monarch, hence the formal name, Kingdom of Lesotho.

Posted by: Puseletso Maake at July 3, 2006 06:34 PM

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