Good Riddance, Brits!
October 4th has come around again, bringing with it Besotho celebrations of independence from the British! Formerly Basutoland, the Kingdom of Lesotho had been a British colony for almost 100 years before it was finally granted its independence on October 4th, 1966. A huge cause for celebration. the Besotho celebrate with style across the kingdom, and this year was no different!
Independence Day celebrations
People from all over dress up in the colours representing their district and traditional songs and dances are performed throughout the day. The members of the royal family of Lesotho together with the Prime Minister and his Cabinet ministers, Heads of Diplomatic Missions, Senior Government Officials and delegates from other countries within the South African Development Community region all come to participate in the Independence Day celebrations.
A Bit Of History
Once upon a time, Basutoland was a united country and free from foreign influence and rule. King Moshoeshoe I had unified the country into one single territory by bringing together various Sotho groups who had fled the wandering Zulus. However, it all went to pot in the 1830s when white settlers called Afrikaners, or Boers, began to encroach on Moshoeshoe’s territory, Numerous border skirmishes ensued as the Basotho fought off these unwelcome settlers. Moshoeshoe lost some of his land in the 30 years of fighting between his forces and those of the Afrikaners. He had few options ahead of him and so he decided to ask the British for help in 1868, which led Britain to make Basutoland a protectorate. Moshoeshoe passed away in 1870 which is where the story gets a bit more tricky and complicated. With Moshoeshoe’s death, Basutoland was places under the control of the Cape Colony in 1871. Britain resumed direct control in 1884 after a war erupted between the government of Cape Colony and the Besotho. In 1910, the Cape Colony and other British colonies united to form the Union of South Africa (which we now know as the Republic of South Africa.) According to British history books, the British government was under the impression that Basutoland would eventually be incorporated into South Africa. However, this idea was thwarted as the Basutho consistently refused to integrate. Long story short, the Basutho eventually achieved their independence from the British in 1966 after 50 years of asking the British for internal self-government. Better late than never!
The TTLF Fellow is a representative of the North American organisation Touching Tiny Lives Foundation. Based for one year in Mokhotlong, Lesotho, the TTLF Fellow serves in an administrative support capacity for the Basotho charity Touching Tiny Lives (TTL).