Monday, April 30, 2007

THE MOUNTAIN KINGDOM OF LESOTHO

Maseru Capital City of Lesotho

The Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho, a land locked country, entirely surrounded by the Republic of South Africa. Formerly Basutoland, the name Lesotho roughly translates into “the land of the people who speak Sotho.”

History

Village near Mokhotlong, Lesotho

Several clans and chiefdoms of southern Sotho people occupied the area which is presently the Northern and Eastern Free States, and Western Lesotho from about 1400 AD. In the early 19th century Basuto Chief Moshoeshoe united tribes in this mountainous land surrounded by South Africa. To establish a buffer against Boer expansion, he asked the British to administer the kingdom. Lesotho became independent in 1966, and in 1993 became a constitutional monarchy. Lesotho's current head of state is King Letsie III.

King Letsie III was reinstated as King of Lesotho on 7th February, 1996. Born in 1963, King Letsie III went to school in Lesotho, obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in Law degree from the University of Lesotho in 1984 and a Diploma in English Legal studies from the University of Bristol UK. King Letsie then went on to spend one year at Cambridge University, pursuing Development Studies, whilst at the same time studying Agricultural Economics at Wyre University, also in England. In his leisure time, King Letsie spends most of his time in the country side tending to his cattle and engaging himself in other agricultural activities. When he is not farming, he spends his time horse riding, playing squash, tennis, rugby, and listening to music.


King Letsie III and Her Majesty Queen 'Masenate Mohato Seeiso. Their Majesties have been blessed with two daughters; seen here is Princess Senate Mohato Seeiso. Another daughter, Her Royal Highness Princess 'M'aSeeiso, was born on 20 November, 2004.

The Prime Minister Pakalitha Bethuel Mosisili is Head of Government, and has executive authority. The King serves a largely ceremonial function; he no longer possesses any executive authority and is proscribed from actively participating in political initiatives.

SNOW IN AFRICA?

Due to its altitude, Lesotho remains cooler throughout the year than other regions at the same latitude. Most of the rain falls as summer thunderstorms. Temperatures in Maseru, and surrounding lowlands, often reach 30°C (86°F) in the summer. Winters can be cold, with the lowlands getting down to -7°C (19°F)and the highlands to -18°C (0°F).

Photos by The Transformation Resource Center

Snow is common in the deserts and low valleys between May and September; the higher peaks can experience snowfalls year-round.

ECONOMY


Lesotho’s economy is based on exports of water and electricity( both being sold to South Africa), manufacturing, agriculture, livestock, and, to some extent, the earnings of laborers employed in South Africa.

A model displays the biggest diamond to be found in 13 years, the "Lesotho Promise," which was sold at an auction for more than $12 million, and is expected to fetch in excess of $20 million, once it is cut up. The 603-carat (120 gram) diamond, named after the tiny African mountain kingdom where it was found, went under the hammer at the Antwerp Diamond Centre, and was sold to the South African Diamond Corporation, owner of luxury jewelers Graff.

Lesotho also exports diamonds, wool, mohair, clothing, and footwear. One of Levi's jeans manufacturing facilities is located in Lesotho.

Yearning Mohair

Mohair used to make tapestry
Photos by The Transformation Resource Center

Lesotho is not only geographically surrounded by South Africa, it is also economically integrated with it as well. The majority of households subsist on farming or migrant labor, primarily miners who remain in South Africa for 3 to 9 months. The western lowlands of Lesotho form the main agricultural zone. Almost 50% of the population earns some income through crop cultivation or animal husbandry, with over half the country’s income coming from the agricultural sector.

HEALTH

With a shortage of trained personnel and medical supplies, Lesotho is severely afflicted by HIV/AIDS. According to recent estimates, the country's rate of infection is about 29%, one of the highest in the world. The United Nations projects that this will rise to 36% within fifteen years, resulting in a sharp drop in life expectancy. According to the Lesotho Bureau of Statistics, life expectancy in 2001 was estimated at forty-eight years for men, and fifty-six for women. Recent statistics estimate life expectancy at about 35 years. Many children have lost parents. Traditionally lavish funerals leave survivors with economic burdens.

An estimated 85% of the population age 15 and over are literate, according to recent estimates. As such, Lesotho boasts one of the higher literacy rates in Africa. Although education is not compulsory, the Government of Lesotho is incrementally implementing a program for free primary education. It was expected that the program would be fully in place by 2006.

Girls dancing at an initiation ceremony
Photos by The Transformation Resource Center

Popular descriptions of this rugged country, with its majestic beauty and serene simplicity, are “Mountain Kingdom” and “Kingdom in the Sky”. Lesotho offers a very different tourist experience through its natural beauty, rich flora and fauna, and absorbing prehistoric and cultural heritage. The appeal of this extraordinary country is rarely found in more commercialized destinations.

Mountains, valleys, and rivers provide memorable scenery for tourists. This is where Lesotho gets its crystal clear water as well as green pastures for livestock. Minerals, such as diamond, are found in these mountains. Indeed, Lesotho is the Kingdom in the Sky; the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho.


MORE INFORMATION
The Lesotho Government Portal

6 comments:

luihamu said...

Liz to be frank with you Africa is the best place in the world.Just look at those mountains or hills and velleys no walls or brindges to separate the African man.

To my perspective,you are the best photo blogger after Maggid Mjengwa who is also a photo blogger.

jah rastafarian.

AFRICAN LIZ said...

Habari Luihamu,

Africa is truely endowed with infinite, beautiful and serene landscapes. As a continent we have alot of potential and resources that still remains untapped.

I admire and accolade Maggid's photography and will be using some of his photos in a future posting. Stay tuned.

Liz

Anonymous said...

Habari Liz,

I have been following your blog for quite a few weeks now. There's nothing more I can say than prasing your works and spirit.Your articles and photos really steal my heart away.

Now I feel I love Africa more than I did just a few months ago.Should I get time and resources I will surely pay a visit to Lesotho and neighbouring Swaziland (and many other places in Africa)in the near future.

As Luihamu said, you are almost like Mjengwa.I think you two people can cooperate well and beautify more your blogs.

I didn't know if there is as much snow in Lesotho as these pictures display.Previously, I used to think there was no snow in the whole Africa except on the top of its roof(mountain Kilimanjaro).

Thank you very much Liz for all this information and knowledge.But why is it that only a few people leave their comments here? I think you may catch many readers if you ask other African bloggers to pull you by your hand up.

Bravo Liz.

Tafadhali usichoke kututaarifu/kutuelimisha (Don't get tired to inform/educate us please!)

Tanzanianboy

AFRICAN LIZ said...

Hello Tanzania Boy,

Thank you for your kind comments. Lesotho is a quintessential kingdom worth visiting. However, I think its geographic location has positioned it at a some what disadvantage as it is overshadowed by South Africa which is sub Saharan Africa hegemon state. I was equally surprised to learn that we have theluji/Snow in Africa at this scale. I am however saddened by the level of HIV/AIDS rates and low life expectancy rate, at an average 35 years.
With regards to Africans appreciating their continent I believe Africans do love their continent however they abhor the challenges a majority of the African citizens have to endure day to day. For example abject poverty, hunger, poor health, bad governance, wars, unequal distribution of resources etc. Well I have always held the view that Africa is indeed a sleeping giant and the day this giant wakes up it will be a force to reckon with. We are blessed with numerous resources and a beautiful continent rich in culture and a diverse group of people each with a unique story to tell. It is in this spirit that Saharan Vibe will strive to bring forth to the global audience details of Africa that illuminate its unique character.

Karibu tena.

Liz

Ryan Thompson said...

I wonder if the Lesotho Promise has been cut? Its been a while since it sold.

Anonymous said...

nice article. I would love to follow you on twitter. By the way, did you hear that some chinese hacker had hacked twitter yesterday again.

 
Afrigator