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History of the Basotho
Arrival of Missionaries
White Settlers
The Orange Free State
Seqiti War and British Annexation
Resumption of Direct Rule
Politics of Independence
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Embassy of the Kingdom of Lesotho

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  ABOUT LESOTHO - Arrival of Missionaries

Arrival of Missionaries

In the late 1820s a new threat came to the clans occupying the Mohokare valley. Groups of Khoikhoi, known as Kora, appeared led by Dutch-speaking people of mixed descent. Many were mounted on horseback and armed with guns. The Basotho again had to take refuge on their mountain-tops and in remote rock- shelters, which horses could not easily reach. Horses had never before been seen in Lesotho.

Moshoeshoe decided to obtain horses and guns for his own people. Also, after hearing of the advantages that other clans derived from having a resident missionary, Moshoeshoe sent cattle to induce a missionary to stay with him. In fact, Moshoeshoe also hoped that the mission- aries would help him to acquire guns and thus prevent the depredations of the Kora.

In this way three missionaries of the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society (PEMS) - Thomas Arbousset, Eugene Casalis and Constant Gosselin - came to Thaba Bosiu in 1833. Moshoeshoe placed them with his two senior sons, Letsie and Molapo, at Makhoarane, the site of the present-day Morija.

The arrival of the missionaries had far- reaching effects on the life of the people. Potatoes, 'wheat, fruit trees and domesti cats and pigs were introduced. Before long the missionaries had opened schools and printed books in the Sesotho language.

The French missionaries did not belong to any of the colonising white groups of southern Africa and were accepted as citizens of Moshoeshoe's kingdom. In fact, Eugene Casalls had a role similar to that of a Foreign Minister for the period 1837 - 55 while living in a mission at the foot of Thaba Bosiu . His knowledge of the outside world proved invaluable to Moshoeshoe during the period when white settlers began to threaten his kingdom.

Two Missionaries of the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society (PEMS),

Eugene Casalis (lef) and Thomas Arbousset, who played an important role in the early history of Basotho.

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