Lesotho

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Various Sotho societies arrived in Basutoland and Free State areas in the seventeenth century. King Moshoeshoe I united the Sotho tribes against the Zulu invaders.

During the 19th century the territory of Basutoland played an important role in the colonial history of southern Africa. The first formal contact between European immigrants and its indigenous residents was probably made in 1833 when three French missionaries, Thomas Abousset, Eugene Casalis and Constant Gosselin, visited Moshoeshoe, king of the newly formed baSotho nation, and obtained permission to establish a mission station at Morija. They were followed in October 1834 by a research party led by Dr Andrew Smith.

After the first visits by missionaries, groups of migrant Dutch farmers, some of whom were granted land for settlement under baSotho customary law, infiltrated the country. In 1836 the territory was invaded by groups of Voortrekkers who, despite having signed a “treaty of friendship” with the baSotho in 1837, declared a separate republic on their lands in 1843.

A series of inconclusive territorial wars between the baSotho and Dutch slowly eroded baSotho land holdings in what was to become the Orange Free State despite the intervention of the British at the Cape. Despite having managed to retain his independence against the Voortrekkers, Moshoeshoe realised that the future of baSotho sovereignty lay in a close association with the British. As a result, in 1862, he wrote to the newly-appointed Governor of the Cape, Sir Philip Wodehouse, suggesting that an alliance be formed between the two territories. On 12 March 1868, acting in the face of continued Voortrekker aggression; Wodehouse issued a proclamation declaring Bautoland a British Protectorate. This was formalised by the baSotho on 15 April 1868. In 1871 Basutoland was annexed into the Cape Colony.

In 1959 Basutoland became a British Colony and was called Territory of Basutoland. Basutoland gained full independence from Britain on 4 October 1966 and became known as Lesotho. Jonathan Leabua became the country’s first Prime Minister. Lesotho was also rocked by a military takeover, which forced King Moshoeshoe IIinto exile. Constitutional government was restored in 1993 after 23 years of authoritarian rule, which included seven years of military rule. Lesotho is the main supplier of water to South Africa and in turn receives its electricity from its neighbour. It is completely surrounded by South Africa.

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Swaziland

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The Swazi nation, as we know it today, originally came from Mozambique. Their Nguni ancestors probably moved there before the sixteenth century as part of the Bantu migration. Archaeologists have found human remains in eastern Swaziland that have been dated to be 110 000 years old, but these were not the ancestors of the Swazi.

The Swaziland constitution was a product of its previous British rulers and in 1973 King Sobhuza II suspended it. He felt that it did not reflect the culture of the Swazi people. A new constitution was drawn up and presented in 1977. This new constitution made the king the absolute ruler of the kingdom.

Sobhuza stayed in power until 1982 when Prince Makhosetive Dlamini was selected as his successor. He was crowned as King Mswati III in 1986 and rules the kingdom with a small group of advisors called the Council of Ministers.

In 1982 South Africa and Swaziland came to a formal agreement regarding each other’s security interests. Swaziland would deport all African National Congress (ANC) members to South Africa. This did not prevent raids by the South African police in search of ANC operatives.

Sever drought in 1992 pushed Swaziland to the verge of famine. The 1990s also saw a great deal of civil action in favour of democracy put pressure on the king to change his state structure. The first Parliamentary elections in the kingdom were held in 1993. Opposition parties were, however, illegal and in 1995 the National Assembly, homes of the Prime Minister and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Swaziland were burned down during riots.

Towards the end of 1997 the king’s powers were slightly reduced and talks were held with the Heads of State of Mozambique and South Africa to formulate a plan to move the kingdom towards democracy. Elections were held in 1998, but the king still held most of the power. Opposition parties were still banned and unions began organizing strikes and bans on imported goods. IN answer the government restricted trade union activities. The Public Order Act was also passed and forbids party politics in the kingdom and stipulates police permission to hold a meeting.

During the 1800s European settlers, traders, missionaries and hunters moved into the area with the intention of making it their home. In 1877 the British annexed the kingdom. Although the Swaziland Convention of 1881 ensured the areas independence it made the kingdom s great deal smaller. This independence was largely on paper and in 1894 Swaziland became a protectorate of the Transvaal Colony, which was under British control following the Second Anglo Boer War. This arrangement continued until 1906, when the kingdom became a High Commission Territory under the rulership of a British Commissioner.

Pressure from opposition groups for the limitation of the king’s powers and a democratic government have increased in the 21 st century. The king has been refusing to change the system of rule.

In 2001 the king prohibited men from having sex with teenage girls for 5 years in an attempt to stem the spread of AIDS. Another drought struck in 2002 and the United Nations (UN) distributed food assistance. The drought continued unabated and in 2004 the Prime Minister declared a humanitarian crisis.

Mozambique

Once a Portuguese colony, Mozambique achieved independence in 1975 following a 12 year struggle by FRELIMO (and a military coup). Under the Marxist, single-party FRELIMO government, Mozambique was embroiled in a 16 year civil war with the opposition party RENAMO, who were originally sponsored by the white Rhodesian government and then the South African apartheid government. A peace deal was signed between the two parties in 1992, and multi-party elections held in 1994.Image

Namibia

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Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia, is a country in southern Africa whose western border is the Atlantic Ocean. It shares land borders with Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east.

This country is home to vibrant cities where people are excited about the future, while remaining deeply connected to their rich, cultural past.   A stable, democratic government, infrastructure that allows guests to move confidently off the beaten path and endless horizons that beckon you to explore define this country and its people. 

Explore the oldest, driest desert in the world and take time to listen to the silence and to your soul. 

This is Namibia, where you are sure to find adventure, and you may just find yourself.