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altitude (bophahamo)
Lesotho's rugged terrain and its mountain ranges have always protected it against invasion. No part of Lesotho is below 1400m (3280ft) above sea level. In other words, it is the only country in the world with all its territory above 1400 metres. In still other words, it has the highest low point of any nation on Earth (Take that, Tibet!) Due to this, Lesotho is often referred to as The Kingdom in the Sky, The Roof of Africa, or The Switzerland of Africa. At times I ask myself why Switzerland is never referred to as "The Lesotho of Europe," but that's the object of another forum. At 3482m, Thabana-Ntlenyana ("Beautiful Little Mountain"), in Lesotho's Maluti Mountain Range, is the highest peak in Southern Africa.

aloe (lekhala)
Aloe polyphylla is a succulent plant indigenous to and confined to mountains in Lesotho. A species valued by the horticultural trade, this succulent has been endangered by uprooting for sale to collectors. It is now protected by law.

The African National Congress, a South-African political party, was founded in 1912 to defend African rights in apartheid South-Africa. It was banned for thirty years, from 1960 to 1990, because of its active commitment against apartheid. The ANC won South Africa's first multiracial elections in 1994, and Nelson Mandela became the first post-apartheid president of South-Africa.


basotho (basotho)
In the early 1800s, King Moshoeshoe I (pronounced moo-shway-shway) was able to bring together different groups of peoples to form the Basotho nation. During his reign the Basotho had to defend their lands and freedom against the Boers. They still lost substantial chunks of land that are referred to today as "The Lost Territory". With the help of French missionaries, he sought and obtained protection from Queen Victoria's British Empire. In 1868 the place that is present-day Lesotho became a Bitish protectorate.

Basutoland was Lesotho's pre-independence name. Independence from Britain, and the name of Lesotho, came officially on 4 October 1966. The country became a constitutional monarchy with an elected bicameral parliament consisting of a 60-seat National Assembly and a 33-seat Senate. Unfortunately, like in many other African countries, independence brought along local corruption and home-made repression.

Bakhatla are one of Lesotho's several clans, or totems. The word 'bakhatla' is reportedly a Tswana name taken from one Chief Mokhatla

Bakoena are one of Lesotho's several clans, or totems. The word 'koena' is Sesotho for 'crocodile,' and is the clan's symbol. Lesotho's royal family belong to the Bakoena clan.

Bataung are one of Lesotho's several clans, or totems. The word 'tau' is Sesotho for 'lion,' and is the clan's symbol.

Batlokoa are one of Lesotho's several clans, or totems. The word 'tlokoa' is Sesotho for 'wild-cat,' and is the clan's symbol. Batlokoa cannibals ate Moshoeshoe I's grandfather, but the former forgave them and convinced them to join his ranks

Lesotho has ten districts. Their capital towns all bear the name of the corresponding district, with the exception of the Berea district. Its capital is almost always referred to as Teyateyaneng, or TY (tee-why).

blogs (lipuisanong)

books (libuka)
Here is a short list of books that could prove invaluable to someone studying Lesotho and its politics. Nothing beats living in the country itself. But that option is often inaccessible. There is a large body of work in Sesotho, but that list belongs to other pages.

  • Chief Is a Chief by the People: The Autobiography of Stimela Jason Jingoes
    Oxford University Press - January, 1975
  • A South African Kingdom: The Pursuit of Security in 19th Century Lesotho
    by Elizabeth A. Eldredge - June, 2002
    Cambridge University Press (July 30, 1993)
  • Families Divided: : the impact of migrant labour in Lesotho
    by Colin Murray
  • Government and Change in Lesotho, 1800-1966: A Study of Political Institutions
    by L. B. B. J. Machobane
    Palgrave Macmillan - October, 1990
  • Historical Dictionary of Lesotho (African Historical Dictionaries Series, No. 10)
    Scarecrow Press - June, 1977
  • In the Time of Cannibals: The Word Music of South Africa's Basotho Migrants (Chicago Studies in Ethnomusicology)
    University of Chicago Press - December, 1994
  • Lesotho and the struggle for Azania : Africanist political movements in Lesotho and Azania : the origins and history of the Basutoland Congress Party and the Pan Africanist Congress
  • Lesotho: Dilemmas of Dependence in Southern Africa
    Westview Press - November, 1985
  • Migration and Development: Dependence on South Africa: A Study of Lesotho
    Scandinavian Institute of African Studies - January, 1986
  • Moshoeshoe of Lesotho
    Heinemann - February, 1988
  • Singing Away the Hunger The Autobiography of an African Woman
    by K. Limakatso Kendall (Editor), et al - September, 1997
  • Last of the Queen's Men: A Lesotho Experience
    Witwatersrand University Press - May, 2001
  • This Matter of Women Is Getting Very Bad: Gender, Development and Politics in Colonial Lesotho
    Univ of Natal Pr (December 2000)
  • Lesotho, 1970: An African Coup Under the Microscope
    by B.M. Khaketla
    C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd (July 1972)
  • The deployment of the labour force in Lesotho (1970)
    by L.S. Cooley
    Central Planning Office (1973)

  • [More stuff]
bushmen (baroa)
The area was populated by Bushmen (Baroa) until the end of the 16th century. From the 16th to the 19th centuries, refugees fleeing wars (Lifaqane) from surrounding regions gradually formed the present-day Basotho nation. When Bartholomew Diaz, the Portuguese explorer, rounded the tip of the Cape Peninsula in 1487, the lands above and to the East had been occupied for thousands of years by the San and the Khoikhoi, both called Bushmen by Europeans who settled there. They belonged to a race of nomadic hunter-gatherers who still live in southern Africa as we speak, although badly treated and generally deprived of their culture and mode of living, in the same manner as the American Indian of North America. Historical experts tend to collectively call the two peoples Khoisan or Khoeesan. They also tend to consider the term Bushman derogatory. It is used within these pages because it is the one known to and used by lay people.
Resources ]

Butha-Buthe is a northern district of Lesotho. It has an area of 1,767 km² and a population of about 130,500 (2007). Butha-Buthe is the capital of the district, which has only that one town.

boundary (botara)
Nine hundred and nine kilometres (909km) of boundary mark Lesotho off from its only and much larger neighbour, South-Africa. For Lesotho is, indeed, land-locked, which means no outlet to the sea and no motorway to a third country. How was the situation during Apartheid? Well, that's another story. Part of Lesotho's western border with South Africa is the Mohokare (Caledon) river.


Eugène Casalis was born in Orthez, France, and was the first missionary in Lesotho. He, Thomas Arbouset, and Constant Gosselin arrived in Lesotho in 1833 and were given a warm welcome by King Moshoeshe I (pronounced moo-shooway-shooway), the founder of the Basotho nation. The newcomers quickly introduced the alphabet, translated the Bible into Sesotho, and converted Basotho into Christianity. Eugène, Thomas and Constant were protestant.

climate (moea oa naha)
Lesotho is a mountainous country whose climate is more temperate than many people reckon. Winters are cold and can get very much so. Snowfall is not uncommon. Neither are fog and sudden thunder showers. In summer, temperatures and humidity can rise very quickly in the lowlands. Summer generally goes from November to January and is usually quite hot, while winter extends from May to July and brings snow to the mountains. In autumn, days are long and warm, and are ideal for hiking and pony-trekking. In spring, the valleys are bright with peach blossoms and mimosa.

Bill Clinton, a former US president, and Bill Gates, the Microsoft chairperson, undertook a visit to Lesotho toward the end of July 2006. The two men visited Mafeteng Hospital, in the south of Lesotho. Dubbed "the two bills" by the international media, Clinton and Gates also held discussions with Pakalitha Mosisili, Lesotho's prime minister. The purpose of their visit was to see what kind of progress the country had made following donations by their respective foundations.

SIL code SSO SIL is a set of codes that offers a unique identifier for every language listed in the Ethnologue
Data Code (Defined in ISO 3166)
Codes used to represent names of countries It is a two- and three-character alphabetic code and a three-digit numeric code that is used by international organizations to exchange data.
International Phone Country Code 266 This is the code to dial in order to reach Lesotho by telephone from anywhere in the world. There are no city codes in Lesotho.
Internet extension (Defined in ISO 3166 Alpha-2)
ls, e.g. name@domain.ls
The equivalent of dot com, dot net, and others. It's a two-letter code maintained by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in the ISO 3166 Alpha-2 list and used to establish country-coded domains.
Currency Code (Defined in ISO 4217)
alphabetic-LSL, and numeric-426
The Euro's is EUR, the U.S. dollar's is USD, the U.K. pound's is GBP, the South-African rand's is ZAR, the Botswana pula's is BWP, the Costa Rican Colon's is CRC, and so on.
International Time Zone GMT+2h00  
ISO Code LS This standard is a two-letter alphabetic code for representing the names of countries and localities.
Language Code (Defined in ISO 3166)
Browser language codes, such as 'en' for English or 'fr' for French, are defined in ISO 639.

country code
The telephone country code for Lesotho is +266.

computers (dik'homputara)
How many computers are there in Lesotho? I don't really know. Fresh information is hard to come by. It's as if someone was diligently recording things, then suddenly decided to stop. Of course, most information, even beyond IT matters, stops dead in 1998, or a few years later. In 1999, there were 200 (two hundred) Internet subscriptions, in 2000 there were 102 host sites. In 1996, the National University of Lesotho "was connected via a 9.6 Kbps analogue leased line to the University of the Orange Free State in Bloemfontein."

Lesotho has an ambitious ICT project that, if seen through, should take off some of the weight of poverty. But where to start? You can download and read this pdf document outlining the official policy, and that should have a good indication of the intentions of the Lesotho government.
Resources ]

Lesotho has built itself an international reputation for its fine wool and mohair weaving products. It's tapestries, fully hand-woven, are noted for their unique beauty and strength. Basotho women are also skilled in knitwear and pottery. Another well-known product is sheepskin items: warm and comfortable slippers, jackets, whole skins, and so on. Grass and reed works are also an important part in the life of the Mosotho artist. And perhaps the mokorotlo (conical hat that is also a national symbol) is the best known among this latter group.
Resources ]

currency code
The currency code for Lesotho is LSL.


dance (motjeko)
There are two main dances in Sesotho culture, namely Mokhibo, for ladies, and Mohobelo, for gents. Women dance while on their knees, doing most of the movements with their shoulders. Mohobelo is a coordinated spectacle where the dancers raise their legs in unison and bring them smashing down.

data code
The data code for Lesotho is LT.

de klerk
Frederick Willem de Klerk was born in 1936 in Johannesburg, South-Africa. As president of South Africa (1989-94), de Klerk worked to end apartheid. He succeeded in negotiating a transition to majority rule in his country. Together with Nelson Mandela he received the 1993 Nobel Prize for Peace for establishing a non-racial system in their country. De Klerk was an established lawyer and the son of a leading politician.

diamonds (litaemane)
Lesotho has long been known as a source of diamonds, mainly from alluvial deposits. Production, however, has never been a big part of the economy and has only contributed little to Lesotho's gross domestic product (GDP).
In 1967 Mrs Ernestine Ramaboa, a Mosotho woman, found a mountain diamond that weighed 601 carats. It turned out to be the eleventh largest diamond ever found in the world. It was sold, and subsequently cut into 18 finished diamonds. The third largest among them was set into the engagement ring that Aristotle Onassis gave to Jacqueline Kennedy.

did you know? (na u oa tseba?)
  1. Altitude: The highest point is Thabana Ntlenyana ("Beautiful, little mountain") at 3,482 m.
  2. Blanket: The Basotho blanket and the mokorotlo make up Lesotho's national dress.
  3. Baroa: Lesotho was populated by Baroa (Bushmen) until the end of the 16th century.
  4. Botswana: The language and traditions of the Basotho are very similar to those of the Batswana.
  5. Coast line: Lesotho is landlocked and therefore has a coastline that is 0 km long (Yes, 0 km).
  6. Dinosaurs: Lesotho had  the Lesothosaurus, and today the country has plenty of dino footprints to show off.
  7. Gauteng: One of South Africa's provinces is called Gauteng, or Khauteng, as we would write it in Lesotho. The name "comes from the Sesotho phrase meaning Place of Gold, referring to the thriving gold industry in the province following the 1886 discovery of gold in Johannesburg. The Sesotho phrase was in turn derived from the Afrikaans "goud" (gold) plus the locative suffix "ng." When properly pronounced, the first letter of the name Gauteng is a guttural G, pronounced similarly to the "ch" in the German "achtung" or Scottish "loch." This guttural pronunciation is natural in both the Sesotho and Afrikaans languages."
    [ More... ]
  8. Google: You can use the famous Google search engine in Sesotho. It is especially recommended for those studying Sesotho. The version in question is here.
  9. HIV/AIDS: In 2004 more than 30% of Basotho were afflicted with the AIS virus.
  10. Lesotho Incident: It is alleged that on 16 September 1995 a UFO crashed in Lesotho and that there was a subsequent cover-up.
    [ Google Results ]
  11. Letšeng-La-Terai: Lesotho has the highest diamond mine in the world. It is Letšeng-La-Terai (3,200m).
  12. Likoena: Likoena is the name of the national football squad. It means 'crocodiles'.
  13. Low point: Lesotho's lowest point is the junction of the Orange and Makhaleng Rivers at 1,400 m.
  14. 'Maletsunyane Falls: Central Lesotho boasts "the highest waterfall in southern Africa, the Maletsunyane Falls near Semonkong, meaning 'Place of Smoke', which thunders from a height of 624ft (192m)."
    [ Source ]
  15. Maseru: Maseru, Lesotho's capital city, is only a few kilometers from the border with South Africa.
  16. Molimo Nthuse Pass: The pass is so high up and so scary that Basotho named it thus, Molimo Nthuse, or God Help Me.
  17. Monarchy: Lesotho is the only constitutional monarchy in Africa.
  18. Mountains: 85% of Lesotho is mountainous terrain.
  19. Pub: Lesotho has the highest pub in Africa (probably in the world). It is the Sani Top Chalet (2,874m).
  20. Pony: Many Basotho travel by pony.
  21. Punishment:"King Moshoeshoe I believed antisocial behaviour was caused by poverty and hunger, and preferred to rehabilitate criminals rather than issue punitive sentences."
    [ Source ]
  22. Quizzes: You may do quizzes focused on Lesotho, Basotho and Sesotho at this address.
  23. Schooling: Lesotho is one of the rare countries where more girls go to school than boys.
  24. Skiing: You can ski in Lesotho in winter, from mid-May to early August.
  25. Spiral Aloë: The Aloë Polyphylla is indigenous only to Lesotho and does not naturally grow anywhere else.
  26. Surface Area: "30 355 sq km, water: 0 sq km, land: 30,355 sq km, slightly smaller than Maryland".
    [ CIA Fact Book ]
  27. Writing: Sesotho is one of the first African languages to be expressed in writing. "The first written form of Sesotho was devised by Thomas Arbousset, Eugene Casalis and Constant Gosselin, French missionaries of the Paris Evangelical Mission who arrived in Lesotho in 1833. The first grammar book, Etudes sur la Langue Sechuana by Casalis, was published in 1841."
    [ Source ]


economy (moruo oa naha)
Lesotho's primary natural resource is water. Its economy is mainly based on subsistence farming, livestock, capital from miners employed in South African mines or farms, and an increasingly attractive clothes making sector. South-Africa has its own difficulties to overcome, and has been reducing the number of foreign mineworkers it employs.
A hydro-power facility completed recently now sees Lesotho selling water to South Africa (Yessss!). The country also gets capital from tourism, which mainly attracts South-Africans to casinos and ski resorts. Nevertheless, Lesotho still has an uneven income distribution and rather grave unemployment problems, both of which will require the skills of a tough and dedicated government to make them disappear.

education (thuto)
From 1833 when they arrived, missionaries have played a key role in the provision of education in Lesotho. They introduced formal institutions where instruction was given in classrooms as we know them. Primary education (between 5 and 12 years of age) is compulsory in Lesotho, but some young Basotho, especially in rural areas, still do not attend school. Nevertheless, about 97% of Basotho children are enrolled. Most schools are run either by the church or by a Christian organisation, under the supervision of the Ministry of Education. Among educational institutions there are also the National University, the Teacher Training College, the Institute of technology (Fokothi) and the Agricultural College (Temong), to name some. Lesotho has a literacy rate of 91 percent, one of the highest in Africa.

Before university, Basotho children and young adults have to go through the following school system:
Primary Education -- In primary school for 7 years from 5 to 12, to obtain the "Standard 7" Diploma;
Secondary Education -- In secondary school for 3 years from 13 to 16, to obtain the Junior Certificate (J.C.);
High School Education -- In high school for 2 years from 16 to 18, to obtain the Cambridge Overseas School Certificate (C.O.S.C.).

embassies (baemeli)
  • Washington DC, USA
  • Beijing, China
    Chancery: No. 302, Dong Wai Office Building
    Tel: +86-10-65326843, 65326844
    Fax: +86-10-65326845
  • London, UK
  • Mission to the UN
  • Tokyo, Japan
    Sugi Terrace 201,3-13-11,
    Okusawa, Setagaya-ku.
    Post Code:158 Tel: 37265711
  • Ottawa, Canada
    202 Clemow St., Ottawa. ON
    Phone: 1-613-236-9449
  • Berlin, Germany
    Botschaft Lesotho,
    Kurfürstenstraße 84, 10787 Berlin
    Phone: (030) 25 75 72-0
    email: embleso@yahoo.com
  • Dublin, Ireland


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