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  About Lesotho Menu
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
The Embassy of The Kingdom of Lesotho in Washington will be closed on the following dates in 2010 in observance of the holidays indicated here

Embassy of the Kingdom of Lesotho

2511 Massachusetts
Avenue, N.W. Washington, DC, 20008

Tel.: 1-202-797-5533
Fax 1-202-234-6815

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  ABOUT LESOTHO - White Settlers

White Settlers

This new and powerful group, the white people from the Cape Colony, began crossing the Orange River in large numbers in the mid-1830s. They trekked in ox-waggons, lived partly by hunting and eventually some settled as farmers on land within Moshoeshoe's Kingdom and in adjacent areas. For the Basotho the next thirty years was a time when only the statesmanship and diplomacy of Moshoeshoe saved their nation from extinction.

A Treaty made with the Governor of the Cape in 1843 recognised Moshoeshoe as an ally, with duties to maintain order in a large area north of the Orange River. In return he would,receive a sum of $75 per year from the Colonial Treasury. In 1845 this was replaced by a second Treaty which recognised white settlement on part of Moshoeshoe's territory, but without clearly defining boundaries.

In 1848 the Orange River Sovereignty was proclaimed, making the area between the Orange and Vaal Rivers British territory. A British Residents Major Warden, was placed in charge at the newly founded town of Bloemfontein. Major Warden was instructed to delineate boundaries between the different chiefs, a procedure quite unacceptable to the Basotho who regarded the Barolong, the Griqua and the white farmers as settled on part of their own territory. Warden's boundary line aroused such resentment that the two sides resorted to arms. After attacks had been made on the Bataung of Moletsane, allies of Moshoeshoe, the Basotho came to their aid. At the Battle of Tihela, near Ladybrand, in 1851, a crushing defeat was delivered on Major Warden's force which included Barolong, Batlokoa, Griqua and white farmers.

A blow such as this to British prestige aroused a predictable reaction, and it was decided that Moshoeshoe should be punished. No less a personage than the High Commissioner for the Cape Colony, Lieutenant-General Sir George Cathcart brought 2 000 troops and in December 1852 camped with them near the Mohokare River, opposite the present site of Maseru. The Basotho were ordered to pay within three days a fine of 10 000 head of cattle and I 000 horses. Moshoeshoe, who always preferred peace to war, met Cathcart at his camp to request peace, but to no avail.

Only a third of the required cattle had been brought in at the expiry of the deadline, and Cathcart began military operations against Moshoeshoe. His force split into three columns, one of which soon mounted the Berea Plateau to round up cattle. As the 12th Royal Lancers were driving the cattle down from the Plateau on the north side, a force under Moshoeshoe's son, Molapo, attacked from the rear, and the British troops suffered heavy losses. That evening the Basotho further harassed Cathcart's men and caused the captured animals to stampede and break away. Meanwhile, realising that more was to be gained by diplomacy than by continuing the fight, Moshoeshoe sent Cathcart a letter which enabled him to withdraw without feeling that he had to avenge a defeat.

Cathcart and his force withdrew. Shortly afterwards Moshoeshoe defeated his old rival Sekonyela, and the entire upper Mohokare Valley came under his direct control.


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