Moshoeshoe Day commemorates the life and legacy of the Basotho nation’s founding father, Moshoeshoe I. Born to the chief of the Bakwena tribe in 1786 in the Thaba-Bosiu plateau in what is now Lesotho. He grew up during a time of turmoil and tribal conflicts, fighting for power and resources. Despite the challenges, he believed in the power of unity and worked tirelessly to bring the different tribes together. In 1822, he united Sotho-speaking tribes, founded the Basotho and became the nation’s first king.
Life and Rise to Power
Throughout his reign, Moshoeshoe I was a wise and fair leader, respected by his people and neighboring European powers alike. He established diplomatic relations with Britain and South Africa, which helped to secure the independence of Lesotho. He was also a skilled military strategist and defended his people against numerous invasions.
Moshoeshoe and Basotho Banknotes
Moshoeshoe I, along with his son King Moshoeshoe II and grandson Letsie III, appears in many Lesotho maloti banknotes, including on the obverse of the 100 Maloti banknotes from 2021. Also featured on the obverse design is a Basotho hat, which is the national symbol of Lesotho. Its reverse depicts a shepherd.
Basotho huts are gracing the reverse of the 20-maloti banknote issued in 2021. Basotho huts are round and have roofs made of strong grass that can last up to 30 years. The thatched roof keeps the inside of the hut cool during summer and traps heat in the winter.
The coat of arms of Lesotho, which is shown in the center of the front design of the 2-maloti note from 1989, consists of a crocodile on a Basotho shield, flanked by Basotho horses. Also on the obverse is a portrait of King Moshoeshoe II. On the banknote’s reverse is a Basotho hat-shaped curio shop in Maseru.