MASERU - Lesotho was one of the largest sources of Black labor in South African mining for well over a century. In the heyday of South African reliance on Basotho labor in the gold mines, to work in the mines for at least a year or two was a normal part of becoming an adult for men from Lesotho.
From the late 1940s through the early 1970s, most able-bodied men could obtain a contract as a novice to work in the mines. However, at that time, mine wages for Blacks were low, no higher in real terms in 1969 than before World War I, and not sufficient to maintain a family in Lesotho. Most migrants therefore worked several contracts to save enough money to pay a bride price, and then "retired" to farming in Lesotho.