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The Mountain People of Lesotho

Lesotho (previously known as Basutoland) resides in the southern region of Africa.

The country's name means “Land where people speak Sesotho.”

The inhabitants of Lesotho are predominantly Basotho people who speak the national language Sesotho, the culture is characterized by rural life, and most traditions and festivals relate to local village life and seasons of the year.

In the villages, life revolves around rural things like the chief’s court, the farming fields, the school, and the initiation lodge.

Located right in the heart of southern Africa, Lesotho is surrounded by beautiful tall mountains and narrow valleys. It is entirely encircled by another country and surrounded by mountains.

Lesotho is well known for its breathtaking scenery, including snow-capped mountain ranges during the winter.

Maseru, Lesotho's capital city, has modern structures and designs with several shops and markets that peddle local and contemporary goods.

The capital of Lesotho also has structures established for tourists interested in exploring life before westernization. These structures are known as urban villages.

Like any other country globally, the nation is influenced by modern and traditional ways of life but has managed to retain its culture and traditions.

Home to 336 mountains, Lesotho offers mountainside activities where tourists come to Ski, Hike, and enjoy a pleasurable outdoor experience.

The Sehlabathebe National Park in the Maloti Mountains, which is at the heart of the country, is rich at its best.

Maluti Snow
Maluti Snow

Source: Jacovt1 at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Agriculture in Lesotho

Conservation agriculture is a method Lesotho farmers have adopted to boost their agricultural yields and increase food production. This also enhances soil fertility and combats soil erosion.

About 70-80% of the country’s population lives in rural areas, with most people practicing traditional subsistence agriculture, like animal grazing and local cereal production.

Maize is the primary food staple and the predominant agricultural produce of the country.

The agriculture sector accounts for about 17% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). It is also the primary source of income for more than half the population in rural areas.

Cultivation and animal husbandry are essential to the livelihood of the Sotho people, as this is what the majority rely on for survival.

Lesotho’s economy is closely tied to South Africa, and opportunities are limited to its growth sectors of mining and manufacturing.

An essential part of the culture is the traditional tribal music linked to the seasons and the agricultural lifestyle.

Traces of the colonial times remain in Lesotho through the descendants of missionaries and early British settlers and Afrikaans-speaking relatives of Dutch immigrants. The groups integrated into Basotho society have adopted the African way of life in recent times.

To celebrate Black History Month, here are interesting facts about Lesotho.

Food in Daily Life

Cornmeal porridge, known as pap-pap, is the staple of the Basotho people, usually accompanied by peas, chopped greens, or other vegetables prepared with a three-stone fireplace. A chicken is added to the pot with milk served as a soured drink on special occasions.

pap-pap (vegetable soup) with chakala
pap-pap (vegetable soup) with chakala


The center of informal gatherings in the neighborhood is the local beer (joale), usually brewed in a large pot placed on the three-stone fireplace. This beer also provides a small income for the families.

Cultural Life in Lesotho

As one of the few African tribes living in a mountainous environment, the Basotho people have made many adaptations and developed a unique culture to suit the mountainous environment they live.

The Basotho blanket is one of those adaptations. The people have created woolen blankets that can keep cold and even rain out.

The residents often dress in these woolen blankets with beautiful and diverse patterns. It is the ideal garment for the predominantly cold environment.

Many Sotho people remain in rural areas despite increasing urbanization due to the structure of the cultural system, which enables them to live a relatively simple life.

Sotho people in Basotho blanket
Sotho people in Basotho blanket

Source: Pinterest

Tourist Attractions in Lesotho

Lesotho is a country rich in culture that has been preserved through generations and remains primarily untouched by modernization, apart from the country’s capital Maseru.

Lesotho boasts of being home to one of the few ski resorts in Southern Africa with several tourist attraction sites.

It also offers an escape from the urban buzz with the Sani Mountain Escape, which houses The Highest Pub in Africaat 2,874 meters above sea level with beautiful scenic views, backpacking, camping facilities, and exciting adventures that will keep any guest on their feet.

The highest pub in Africa at the Sani Mountain Lodge
The highest pub in Africa at the Sani Mountain Lodge

Source: Asmallworld

Also, if you ever wonder what dinosaur footprints looked like, Lesotho is the place to go.

Preserved in sandstone, the Subeng dinosaur footprints are an essential tourist attraction site in Lesotho of prehistoric animals that lived approximately 200 million years ago.

Subeng dinosaur footprint
Subeng dinosaur footprint

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