I have seen the light!

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28 Jan 2008

The Basotho of Southern Africa

 The Drakensberg Mountains of southern Africa.  An imposing range of spectacular mountain peaks, rivers and valleys.  It is here ….   nestled in the foothills and mountains of this majestic range … that a unique people live … the Basotho.

 The Basotho of southern Africa number 5.5 million ….. 3 million of who live in the Free State Province of South Africa while another 2.5 million live in the mountain Kingdom of Lesotho.  This fiercely proud and peaceful people are usually seen with colorful wool blankets and conicle-shaped hats.  They are the one people in Africa who are accustomed to living in cold, snowy winters.

 The Basotho nation owes its existence to the wisdom and leadership of one man. … King Moshoeshoe.  Amid wars which ravaged southern Africa during the 1800’s this one man chose the path of peace rather than of war. Rather than fight, King Moshoeshoe formed alliances with other tribes through marriages and then gathered his people to the safety of the mountain stronghold of Thaba Bosiu.  Here the Basotho nation was formed.

 Today, the Basotho are divided into three distinct groups.

 The Basotho of the Free State Province of South Africa … who lived under the reign of apartheid …...  the policy of the separation of the races.  They now find themselves living in the poorer parts of towns or as workers on white-owned farms.

 Then there are the Basotho of the Lesotho lowlands.  Many live in the capital city of Maseru.  Some are educated and work in government or professional jobs .. driving cars and living in nice homes ….. while others come to the city to find work in factories or as laborers.  Their life is hard and those who cannot find work scrape together a living through setting up shops on the streets.  Those living in the lowlands find themselves caught between their traditional Basotho culture and modern western influences.

 And there are the Basotho of the Maluti Mountains.   Those who still live life the way their forefathers lived … in isolated villages … scattered throughout the Maluti Mountains …..holding fast to their traditions.  Their daily life is one of survival …. working in the fields …. gathering fuel for cooking … tending their livestock … and riding horses along mountain trails.  “They are the real Basotho,” as one Mosotho living in Maseru exclaimed.

 But although geography  and slight differences in their Sesotho language  may separate them ….. they all find themselves linked together through a common heritage and culture.

 A heritage that emphasize the role of the family, the ancestors, and religion.  But this culture and religion is also a barrier to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 Christianity was introduced to the Basotho many years ago.  Most would say they are Christians; however, few have a personal relationship with Jesus.  Many are trapped in the works oriented practices of the Roman Catholic and Anglican traditions.  They have a religious zeal that is dependent on what they do in order to please God.

 The teachings of the church seem to have little influence of the lifestyle of the people.  Today, nearly one-third of the population has AIDS.

 The Basotho know about Jesus, but they need to know Him as their Lord, Saviour and friend.

 Those who have made this decision are often ridiculed and scoffingly referred to as the “bapalosoa” ….. or the “saved Ones.”  Consequently growth among evangelical churches has been slow. 

 The lovely greeting of the Basotho says it all … Khotso, Pula, Nala …..which means: Peace , Rain, Abundance.  Our prayer for the Basotho is …

 That they will discover peace with God through a relationship with Jesus.

 That God’s Word will fall like rain on their hearts and produce a rich blessing in their lives.

 That they will truly experience the abundant life only found in Jesus.

 It is said that at the dawning of each new day … King Moshoeshoe would emege from his hut and exclaim …. “Ke bona leseli” … “I have seen the light.”  Please pray that this would proudly be proclaimed by all the Basotho concerning Jesus ….

 “Ke bona leseli”


Jesus spoke again to the people,

he said,  “I am the light of the world.

Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness,

but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12



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