ASSIGNMENT 02

MOSHOESHOE – SOTHO CHIEF
Explain how Moshoeshoe succeeded to survive in ‘two worlds’. Moshoeshoe is considered one of the greatest African Diplomats of his time. During a period of extreme tension and war in the Southern African interior he not only managed to secure relative safety for his people but also managed to increase the strength, wealth and size of his population. He played his enemies, both African and Colonial off against each other, made use of bribery to secure loyalty and even went as far as inviting the French Missionary Society to set up a mission station at Morija, and work almost unimpeded with his tribe in return for immunity from Boer and colonial aggression. Moshoeshoe was the epitome of diplomacy. Every move or decision was made after careful consideration and calculated risk evaluation, including his choice of settlement. If it was at all possible to avoid war and alleviate conflict by means of negation, this would be his first course of action. However should negation fail; his armies were always on the ready to make use of their superior position on top of the mountain stronghold at Thaba Bosiu. Moshoeshoe encouraged smaller tribes to settle in the land surrounding his state, his reasoning being that the smaller tribes would act as a buffer zone between the Sotho and other larger tribes like Mzilikazi’s Ndebele and Shaka’s Zulu impies who might decide to attack. The smaller tribes and dispossessed members of decimated tribes who suffered under the difiquane like the Nguni, San, Kor and Gruiqua groups were included into the Sotho nation, but unlike Shaka who ruled over conquered tribes with an iron fist, Moshoeshoe allowed the immigrant groups to live together under a fair amount of autonomy. He maintained control by delegating authority for the outlying areas to kinsmen, while he maintained a strong hold on the core population. Moshoeshoe made use of his extensive wealth, particularly cattle to bata and bribe neighbouring tribes and secure loyalty. He often played the tribes off against each other; a case in point would be Matawane of the Ngwaneni whom Moshoeshoe claimed to be greedy in the taking of cattle for Shaka. When this news reached the Zulu kingdom, Shaka took exception to Matawane’s presumption and send his army to punish the Ngwaneni. Moshoeshoe’s army became one of the first African Mounted armies after his defeat of the Griquas. The Griqua’s and Kora caused mayhem in many of Moshoeshoe’s villages because the Sotho had no experience of horses or guns. Moshoeshoe was however a quick study and soon began to barta for guns and asking his subjects to steal them from the farms where they worked. When the Griquas were finally defeated the Sotho annexed the Griqua horses and used them to breed their own national stock called the ‘Basotho Pony’.

Moshoeshoe went so far as to change some of the Sotho traditions to accommodate the missionaries. Casilis became Moshoeshoe’s negotiator and scribe in his communication with the British.In 1833 Moshoeshoe sent an invitation to the French Missionary Society to establish a mission station within the confines of his state. by doing this he ensured that the Boers were not able to take the land. Moshoeshoe approached the British for help. Beerseba and Mekautling. despite their claimed to be impartial they recognised the sovereignty of the Orange Free State. Eventually in a bid to secure peace Moshoeshoe asked the British to annex Basotho land and incorporate it into the British colony. . gaining respect from traditional as well as ‘civilized’ society. During the 1930’s the Boers became a serious threat to the Sotho. The missionaries were allowed to set up the mission station at Morija. This was not done for religious reasons but in an effort to secure missionary help. one could say he was willing to change small things that did not affect him directly in exchange for the missionaries help. he did however not agree to end polygamy. By establishing a new Sotho Christian culture they helped to unify the Sotho and the immigrant tribes. His reputation for fairness and compassion ensured that he was able to build a great nation with ties and loyalties to both African and Colonial powers. He harnessed whatever was at his disposal to ensure the survival and growth of his people. on the edges of the Sotho State. they also established a training centre and a school and helped by teaching and promoting efficient agricultural procedures and trades. thus allowing the continued skirmishes between the Sotho and the Boers. the Voortrekkers began to encroach on Sotho land. In 1843 he agreed to stop witch-killing. because if they tried it would mean having to deal with the British. The missionaries were used as intermediaries between the Sotho and the British government in the Cape and Natal. He managed to forge peace with a number of tribes by marrying members of their chiefly families. As more missionaries arrived Moshoeshoe cleverly placed them on exposed frontiers Bethulie. It could also be argued that the reason Moshoeshoe declined to end polygamy was due to his ‘Solomon’ like take on marriage. in 1840 he repudiated the initiation rites. Moshoeshoe was truly a great politician and diplomat. In this way he survived and prospered in ‘two worlds’. the missionaries were also able to prevent the British from attacking the Sotho and provide the Sotho with guns and ammunition.

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