Thaba-Bosiu National Monument

Date of Submission: 08/10/2008
Criteria: (iii)(v)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Department of Culture
State, Province or Region:
Maseru District
Coordinates: S 29 21.018 E 27 40.277
Ref.: 5392


Thaba-Bosiu National Monument is a plateau situated in the Phuthiatsana Valley, about 23km south-east of Maseru, the capital city. It was named Thaba-Bosiu (mountain at night) during the occupation of Moshoeshoe 1, founder of the Basotho nation in 1824. It got its name because as one gets nearer the impressive and formidable it gets mainly for the enemies at night. It covers an area of about 3km (northlsouth) by 2km (eastlwest). It has steep vertical ciiffs along the ridge and is accessible only along foot passes. Several water springs on the plateau sustained the occupants and some have been named after the historical figures such as the one used by 'Mamohato the first wife to Moshoeshoe 1, and Makhabane, Moshoeshoe's brother. There is a graveyard where Moshoeshoe 1 and IƮis family members were buried. The most recent one is the grave of Moshoeshoe I l who was buried on January 15, 1996. The plateau hosts remnants of Moshoeshoe' 1 village. The walls of two-roomed European house, several houses occupied by his relatives and villagers are still standing. There is testimony bearing interaction between Moshoeshoe and other nations with the inscriptions on a rock. There are rock paintings and other forms of archaeological materials/deposits.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

Moshoeshoe inoved froin Botha Bothe Plateau to occupy 'Thaba -Bosi~iP lateau during the LifaqanelMfecaneltribal wars period. It was on this plateau where Moshoeshoe effectively defended his people from attacks by Batlokoa, the mighty Shaka Zulu soldiers and Afrikaners until 1868 when he sought protection from the British. Moshoeshoe was able to form alliances with other neighbouring chiefs which later became Moshoeshoe's subjects as lie was able to protect his Followers. It was on this plateau that Moshoeshoe negotiated and signed treaties with the British including the one which established the current Lesotho boundaries and the one guaranteeing the protection. Christianity in Lesotho started on this particular plateau with the first Mission Station below it. Moshoeshoe became very powerful on this plateau after its occupation because he was able to protect his followers therefore he attracted many people under his jurisdiction. Basotho nation prided themselves that they were never sonquered by any nation because of the protection afforded by this plateau.

Therefore the plateau holds the memories of Basotho since as a nation; they associate themselves with their founder and protector, Moshoeshoe 1. He is the only king in Southern Africa in those days who managed to practice democracy and had the reptation of being a diplomatic leader.

The plateau is still revered not only by members of the Royal Family who still have direct contact but by nation at large even international hence the justification for the developments such as tourists and interpretation facilities below the plateau by the government. Therefore, it is valued as the national shrine and it invokes a sense of identity for the proud nation Basotho.