Infobox Ethnic group
group = Basotho

poptime = 4.3 million (2001 estimate)
popplace =
South Africa 3,544,304 (2001 Census)
Lesotho (c. 1.8 million)
langs = Sesotho
rels = African traditional religion, Christian

The Basotho people have lived in southern Africa since around the fifteenth century. The Basotho nation (modern Lesotho) emerged from the accomplished diplomacy of Moshoeshoe I who gathered together disparate clans of Sotho-Tswana origin that had dispersed across southern Africa in the early 19th century. Most Basotho today live in South Africa.


The most significant role Moshoeshoe I played as a diplomat was his acts of friendship towards his beaten enemies. He provided land and protection to various people and this strengthened the growing Basotho nation. His influence and followers grew with the integration of a number of refugees and victims of Difaqane.

Establishment of a nation

By the later part of the 1800s, Moshoeshoe established the nation of the Basotho. He was popularly known as Morena e Moholo/morena wa Basotho (Great chief/king of the Basotho).

Early missionaries

Around the 1830s, the Europeans started to move into the mainland of South Africa. Firstly, this led to missionaries from various societies setting up missions with different clans throughout the country. However, this period also marked the beginning of conflict between Europeans and Africans. The Afrikaners, the Dutch-speaking people of mixed European descent, met the Basotho people after they settled in the region of the now Free State province (bordering Lesotho on the west). In an attempt to be prepared for any possible battle, Moshoeshoe asked the missionaries to come and live among his people. He believed that in this way, it would be easier to acquire guns for protection against the Europeans and the Koranna people. The first three missionaries were Thomas Arbousset, Eugene Casalis and Constant Gosselin from the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society (PEMS). They were placed at Morija, where a lot of work was done on creating an orthography for the Sotho language. The first printing press was also established here. Casalis also acted as an advisor to King Moshoeshoe in matters relating to Europeans and the Cape Colony.

Alliance with the Cape Colony

For strategic reasons and mainly for protection against Afrikaners, Basotho became allies with the British Cape Colony in 1843. During the period that followed many wars and conflicts took place between the Basotho, the Afrikaners and British. This happened at the backdrop of increased colonization in Africa by Britain and shifts in possession of the Free State region between the Afrikaners and the British.

Annexation and independence

The British annexed Lesotho, then called Basutoland, in 1868 and it led to British rule up to independence on 4 October 1966.


* [ Number of Sotho speakers in South Africa]
* [ Population of Lesotho (almost entirely Sotho-speaking)]

ee also

* Lesotho
* Moshoeshoe I
* Sotho-Tswana

Ethnic groups in South Africa

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Basotho — Écolier Basotho Populations Population totale 5 158 000 Populations significatives par régions …   Wikipédia en Français

  • basotho — BASÓTHO s.m. Populaţie sotho (2) care trăieşte în Lesotho şi în regiunile limitrofe din Africa de Sud. ♦ Membru al acestei populaţii. (cf. engl. basotho < sotho pref. ba (marcă a pl. subst.) + sotho) [AHDEL] Trimis de tavi, 13.09.2007. Sursa:… …   Dicționar Român

  • Basotho — Die Basotho (Singular: Mosotho) sind ein aus Lesotho stammendes Bergvolk, das im Laufe des 19. Jahrhunderts entstand. Zwischen 1836 und 1848 wurden versprengte Stämme in die Nation des Königs Moshoeshoe I. integriert, so dass die Bevölkerung des… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Basotho — Los Basotho son un pueblo que viven en el sur de África desde el siglo XV y hablan el sotho. Este pueblo tiene tres clanes o tribus principales: los Bakoena, los Bataung y los Batlokwa. La nación Basotho (actualmente Lesotho) emergió del genio… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Basotho — noun (plural Basotho; also Basothos) Etymology: Sotho, plural of Mosotho Basotho person, from mo , class prefix + sotho, perhaps alteration of motho human being Date: 1895 a Bantu speaking people of Lesotho; also a member of this people …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Basotho — noun a member of a subgroup of people who inhabit Lesotho • Hypernyms: ↑African • Member Holonyms: ↑Lesotho, ↑Kingdom of Lesotho, ↑Basutoland * * * Basotho [Basotho] [bəˈ …   Useful english dictionary

  • Basotho — Ba·so·tho (bə sōʹtō, so͞oʹto͞o) n. pl. Basotho or Ba·so·thos 1. A Sotho speaking people of Lesotho and adjacent parts of South Africa. 2. A member of this people.   [Sotho : ba , pl. n. pref. + sotho, Sotho.] * * * …   Universalium

  • Basotho —  The people of Lesotho …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

  • Basotho — n. Bantu speaking African people who live in Lesotho; member of this people …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Basotho — [bə su:tu:] plural noun (sing. Mosotho) the South Sotho people collectively, living chiefly in Lesotho. Origin the name in Sesotho …   English new terms dictionary