TWENTY-THREE kilometres north-east of Maseru lies Thaba-Bosiu — the iconic mountain stronghold of King Moshoeshoe I.
Moshoeshoe I, who founded the Basotho nation, first occupied the sandstone plateau in 1824. Legend has it that Thaba-Bosiu, which is not very high during the daytime, elevates during the night and becomes a high fortress.
This folklore was used by King Moshoeshoe I to his advantage in fending off his enemies. It was also the place where King Moshoeshoe I negotiated and signed treaties with the British, including the one which established the current Lesotho boundaries and another guaranteeing the country protection. To add to the area’s mystique, the bodies of King Moshoeshoe I and many members of the Royal Family were also buried on the plateau.
As a result of its significance in Lesotho’s history, Thaba-Bosiu is among the most venerated sites in the country and a national monument.
Among the standout features of the area is the legendary conical hill, Qiloane, which inspired the traditional Basotho hat called mokorotlo.
It also boasts a cultural village with huts, and other elements such as a kraal and traditional wall replicating the way of life of the constituent tribes of the Basotho nation during King Moshoeshoe I’s time.
Built in 2007, Thaba-Bosiu Cultural Village is owned by the government and run by leisure and tourism firm, Thaba ea Liphofung. It offers both traditional and modern facilities, with 41 chalets, a conference centre with a capacity of 250 people, an amphitheatre with a capacity of 700 people, and a restaurant which operates 24 hours a day. The village also has an open area that can be used as a camping site.
The facility also has a museum exhibiting historical and cultural artefacts, photographs and general information on Thaba-Bosiu. There is also a courtyard with the famous traditional chess, ‘moraba-raba.
The village holds such epic events as Lesotho Tourism Jazz Festival , Lifaqane Festival and Lesotho Wine & Crafts Festival as well as playing host to a number of local and international celebrities.
According to Thaba ea Liphofung Managing Director, Thabo Maretlane, the cultural village seeks to promote and preserve the cultural heritage of Basotho for tourists and posterity.
“Thaba-Bosiu is the hub of information when it comes to the history of Basotho. It showcases how we came to be a nation as our founder sought fortress here,” Maretlane said in an interview with Xpress People this past week.
“Thaba-Bosiu Cultural Village accommodates various tastes and ages, offering both a five-star service and the traditional Basotho resort experience. It all depends on our guests’ requirements.
“Our culture is being eroded by modernity. So this centre serves the purpose of reminding Basotho of our history.”
Maretlane further noted the Thaba-Bosiu Cultural Village was working closely with surrounding communities to ensure guests are accorded the best treatment and entertainment.
“Traditional dances are performed by members of the community and most of the vegetables and traditional food consumed here come from surrounding villages,” said Maretlane.
“Over 70 percent of our staff is from surrounding communities, and the centre also contributes towards the building of community infrastructure. We will soon launch a Jazz show on Sundays at the restaurant and a vibrant website next month so that people can book online and make inquiries.”