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King Moshesh

King Moshesh   1824-1870







 


​The exact date of Moshesh’s birth is unknown, but it is believed that he was born in the late 1790s.  During Shaka’s reign, Moshesh was forced to flee to the mountains. The locations for his stronghold was excellent for both hunting and farming.  Not only were his people agriculturally inclined, they were also excellent horseman.  Aside from that, the mountains provided Moshesh with an excellent form of natural protection.  The retreat was situated on a flat plateau 5,000 feet above sea level.  Under Moshesh’s leadership, the Basuto became relatively wealthy.
In 1836, the Boers (the Dutch Huguenots) and the British began to invade Moshesh’s domain and small skirmishes developed.  Despite the advanced weaponry of the Europeans, they proved no match for Moshesh and his followers.  The African warrior was successful in running off their herds, and when the Europeans attempted to attack his people with cannons, Moshesh’s followers retaliated by dropping huge boulders down on them, causing terrible avalanches.
In 1843, the British concluded a peace treaty with Moshesh; although Moshesh signed the treaty, he still had severe reservations regarding the final outcome of his contact with all Europeans.  They were bitter enemies, but he figured that both the Boers and the British would someday unite against him.   Moshesh was also quick to learn that religion played a major role in the white man’s politics.  So, he introduced Christianity to his people and welcomed missionaries into his territories.  This served to anger the Boers and to please the British.
Moshesh still worried that the white man would eventually treat him and his people as they had treated other tribes.  Therefore Moshesh attacked the Boers because he feared that they would eventually attack him.  Subsequently, the British and the Boers united against him.  Although Moshesh won many battles, he was wise enough to know that the strength and resources of the British Empire far outweighed his own.  Accordingly, he wrote a letter to the Queen of England asking for peace and saying he no longer wants to be an enemy of the Queen.  Shortly thereafter, the British pulled their forces from the area.
With the British gone, Moshesh then directed his efforts against the Boers and those native chiefs who opposed him.  Although he was forced to fight with spears against the Boers, he won battle after battle.  The war with the Boers raged for many years.  At the age of eighty, Moshesh was still determined that his enemies would not conquer his territory.  To ensure that the Boers would not be successful, before his death in 1870, Moshesh placed his people under the protection of the more distant enemy, the foe less able to raid the Basuto, the British Empire.
Moshesh was praised as the man who outsmarted and defeated the Europeans.  He was never beaten on the battle field or in any acts of diplomacy.  Moshesh was truly one of the greatest African statesman of all time, for he possessed qualities that make a Great leader.

Excerpt from A Salute to African Kings & Queens.

This is only a summary of the life of King Moshesh.