Lesotho is experiencing a #Political Crisis and this week the BBC reported that "Lesotho's King Letsie has dissolved the mountainous kingdom's parliament, paving way for an election within three months." Coups, counter-coups, and political crisis are nothing new in what was once a British protectorate.
Lesotho - land, power and political legacy
The 'Kingdom of Heaven' is a term used to describe the tiny country which is totally surrounded by South Africa and is situated more than 1400 m above sea level but it was not always so. The lost Kingdom of Lesotho used to include vast tracts of rich agricultural land in the Caledon Valley - now a wealthy farming area in South Africa.
The Lesotho people fought long and hard for their land and war, warriors, and political upheavals have been in the mix since the early 19th century Zulu warriors rampaged across Southern Africa in an orgy of expansionism..
Political intrigue, crisis, and the blanket concern
The people of Lesotho fought the Afrikander trekkers and later, even the British who were the reluctant protectors of the nation before handing the governing of the area to the Cape Colony and they fought them too. They fought each other, and they fought the great battles of the Gun Wars. The intrigue, war, and political maneuvering have become as much a tradition of the people of Lesotho as their conical hats and the rather inadequate traditional clothing that consists of a blanket and little else. While tourists, NGO's and Prince Harry worry about the blankets, the Basotho people themselves just get on with their political shenanigans that they learned from their forefathers.
Politics and employment
Since 1966, when the country was finally declared Independent, there were numerous coups, attempted coups and assassinations. Many a politician has fled into exile, come back and fled again. In the fight for democracy against military rule, there have been many aspiring politicians who have fallen by the wayside.
Nevertheless, as the economy keeps shrinking and job opportunities lessen, entering the political arena is at least one way to hold down a job that does not involve blankets, sheep and sleeping out in the freezing cold remnants of this once great nation.
There is some formal employment on the diamond mines in the country, but apart from selling nice clean water to South Africa, there is not much else to sustain the nation. Right up near the highest pub in Africa, there is a diamond mine. In 2006, the Letseng Mine unearthed a diamond that was the largest find of our century and was the15th largest diamond ever found. The mine has produced a succession of stunning diamonds - the 'Star of Lesotho,' the 'Leseli La Letšeng,' the 'Lesotho Brown' and the 'Letseng Legacy.' The crown on top was the 'Lesotho Promise.'
The 'Broken Promise' of Lesotho
In 2008 I was working at a nearby mine that was still in the sampling phase.
A big type II diamond came through the processing plant fractured into three pieces. The Basotho mine workers named it the 'Broken Promise.' This is perhaps the most aptly -- if informally named diamond in the country. There have been far too many broken political promises in the 'Lost Kingdom of Lesotho.'