Moshoeshoe - Ruler of Basotho
The character and person that was Moshoeshoe, seems to have been a rekindling of the spirit of Moses, the Lawgiver from Mount Sinai. Moses or Moshue/Musa, may have even been of the priestly lineage (of the Levite/Lewi or LEVA Priesthood) we know today as Basotho. Scripture is there to guide neh? (Exodus 2,10). We see here that Moses was indeed Levite, meaning the Sothos might be the same lineage mixed with Nguni son of Naphtali.... Now we do know He looked Egyptian meaning, he was dark skinned and of Bantu descent. And Sothos are slightly lighter in complexion than say a Natal Zulu (Zebulwane and Naphtali). So yes Moses appearance we can only guess for now, but what we can see clearly is the Basotho spirit associated with Sothos today, was alive both in Moses and Moshoeshoe. This post is purely contemporary history about Moshoeshoe, because he reminds so much about the deeds of Moses, you can see SoNiNi guiding him in his life. So lets dive in and learn some Sotho history!
Lesotho used to be known as Basutoland, moreover the Basotho also has a tribe of Moses (Moshoeshoe). In this article we shall have a closer look at Moshoeshoe, remembering Moses and looking into Lesotho itself and what size it used to be, before people started dividing up Holy Lands already given to another people. But it has happened like SoNiNi said it would...
Image credit: Aaron & Alan Hicks
Now, Moses (Ra-Moses or even Ramses) which for all intents and purposes seems to have been his Egyptian given name - Ramses, scarcely needs an introduction. The name of Ramses can still be found on the Hieroglyphic on the walls of Egypt, was this Moses himself? Almost everyone has heard about this man, his deeds and travels. How he served The Most High, talked with Him throughout his life, doing pretty much everything So NiNi asked him to do. Moses parted the Red Sea (or Reed Sea) by share belief and prayer, he went up Mount Sinai and came back with the stone tablets. They (Bantu People) wandered seemingly aimlessly and followed Moses in the southwestern African deserts for 40 years, before they came to the land of Kanaan, which is in the Southern parts Africa. Moses was told, however, that he would not enter the Land of Kanaan. But he sure saw it. And after seeing it from a high vantage point up there in Moab (todays Gauteng and Mpumalanga area, but also into Mozambique), Moses was said to have died on Mount Nebo and buried by SoNiNi Himself at an unknown location (Deuteronomy 34,1-6):
Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab to the top of Pisgah, across from Jericho. There SoNiNi showed him the whole lan - from Gilead to Dan, 2 all of Naphtali, the territory of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Mediterranean Sea (The Great Sea in the West), 3 the Negev and the whole region from the Valley of Jericho, the City of Palms, as far as Zoar. 4 Then SoNiNi said to him, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.”
5 And Moses the servant of SoNiNi died there in Moab, as SoNiNi had said. 6 He (SoNiNi) buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is. 7 Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone. 8 The Israelites grieved for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days, until the time of weeping and mourning was over."
Mount Nebo is an interesting site and we will do an article of the location soon, it seems also to be the site where Michale the Angel and Satan had their dispute over Moses body (Jude 1,9).
So then over to a the more contemporary man, Moshoeshoe, quite the character and just like Moses had a spirit of endurance. Born at Menkhoaneng in Northern Lesotho, Moshoeshoe (1785-1870) came through the lineage of the Bamokoteli branch of the Koeana clan. The Koena clan (crocodile totem). Moshoeshoe helped his father, reportedly early in his childhood, to control other clans. At the age of 34 he formed his own clan and became chief, at Butha-Buthe Mountain.
Born at Menkhoaneng in Botha-bothe, he went to initiation school and got the name Letlama (strong bond). During an organised cattle raid against Ramonaheng, several herds of cattle was captured. When Moshoeshoe was in his youth (just after the initiation), the tradition was that you write a poem about yourself, and he did. In referring to himself he said he was `like a razor which shaved all Ramonahengs beards`, referring to his successful raid - he was razor sharp in other words. In Sesotho the razor is said to make a `sho-sho`sound which elegantly resulted in his name, Moshoeshoe - the shaver. He also used to call himself a person of the Kali, hinting at his ancestry, being a descendant of the Great Kali or Monaheng, who is said to be the ancestor of most Bakoena people in Lesotho (except BaMolibeli). Moshoeshoes followers (Bakoena BaMokoteli), and some clans (including Amazizi) established his village at Butha-Buthe.
It is this settlement and reign that coincided with the simultaneous growth in power neighbour, the Zulu King Shaka. The times of Shaka Zulu are often referred to as the `times of troubles` (a well know term of phrase for Bible enthusiasts), previously known as Difaqane. Shaka raided, in the early 1900 hundreds, many smaller chiefdoms along the eastern coast of Southern Africa, what is today know as Kwa-Zulu Natal. Shaka grew steadily as he incorporated more and more tribes into his chiefdom, killing countless people along the way. The lucky ones was forced to flee the merciless Zulu chief. The times of trouble (Difaqane), and during these times and attacks by the Nguni clans, it was clear signs of aggression against the Sotho people. This lead Moshoeshoe to move his settlement to the Qiloane plateau, later changed to Thaba Bosiu - the mountain at night. Termed so because the mountain was thought and believed to grow during the night and shrink during the day. This stronghold proved impassable against the invaders. As Lesotho truly is a very hard place to enter, even nowadays, with natural mountain passes in every direction its not hard to see that SoNiNi had fun when creating this unique place on earth.
The most significant role, and in similarity with Moses, was when Moshoeshoe became a sorta diplomat on account of 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 several refugees and victims of the wars. Now Moshoeshoe as known as Morena e Moholo established the nation that is Basotho, in what was before called Basutoland. So the story goes, when the Dutch came in spades from the Cape Colony, after first pretending to be just looking for some grazing for their cattle, they started bringing firearms. Moshoeshoe, clever as he was, remembered his proverbs and determined that he also needed firearms, but also, and very crucial for the future of his country, white advisors. He had heard tales of the benefits missionaries brought and brought on frenchmen cut of clergy and the pious cloak, Jean-Eugène Casalis (1812-1891), Constant Gosselin (1800-1872) and Thomas Jean Arbousset (1810-1877) into his Kingdom.
Later on Roman Catholic Missionaries had great influence, of whom there is still visible traces of in Lesotho to this very day. This being perhaps Romes trusted servants cloaked as Protestants? they erected crosses nonetheless, Jean-François Allard (1806-1889) and Joseph Gérard (1831-1914).
It was however from 1837 to 1855 that Casalis played an important role as Moshoeshoes Foreign Advisor, with knowledge of the non-African world (mainly advising him on the behaviours of the intruding whites), Casalis informed and advised the King in dealings with his hostile foreigner. Casalis did also make sure to document the Sesotho language and became a specialist in Séchuana language (Tswana).
In the 1830 the Boers, set against the People of the Kingdom of the Bantus as SoNiNi told He would do (Deuteronomy 28,49-52):
"49 SoNiNi will bring a nation against you from far away, from the ends of the earth, like an eagle swooping down, a nation whose language you will not understand, 50 a fierce-looking nation without respect for the old or pity for the young. 51 They will devour the young of your livestock and the crops of your land until you are destroyed. They will leave you no grain, new wine or olive oil, nor any calves of your herds or lambs of your flocks until you are ruined. 52 They will lay siege to all the cities throughout your land until the high fortified walls in which you trust fall down. They will besiege all the cities throughout the land SoNiNi your God is giving you."
Sobering words, as they (The Boers and British) surely has done just that. Subdued the land, and implemented their court and rule systems, changed the times and signs. Times are changing though. If you have the guts please continue reading the curses in the following verses, from 53 and on.... Not uplifting things, as they are unfolding just now now. Bantus need to read these things, it is essential for their awakening.
Now SoNiNi does things very simply - Blessings for obedience, and curses for disobedience. And being of the people or claiming to be of the Bantus of Jacob and Isak, it is imperative to know your curses SoNiNi set against all that rebelled against His Commandments, and we do not even venture to mention rejecting the Saviour (another topic). Either way, as we continue following the settlers and subduers, the Boers came from the Cape of Hope and started flocking up on the western Borders of Lesotho and, naturally started claiming land. The trekkers led by Jan de Winnaar settled in Matklakeng in 1838, and more farmers were to follow. The farmers tried to colonise the land between the two rivers, north of Caledon (a large contributory to Senqu or River Jordan).
The settlers said, an occurring blatant lie in their pursuits, that the land had been abandoned... When Mosheoshoe heard about this, he stated:
"... the ground on which they were belonged to me, but I had no objections to their flocks grazing there until such time as they were able to proceed further; on condition, however, that they remained in peace with my people and recognised my authority."