By Thoboloko Nts’onyane

MASERU – Managing Director of T-Connexion Marketing and Tour, a company that organizes the annual historic Moshoeshoe walk, Hon Thabo Maretlane says this year’s installment will be in preparation of the 200 years since Basotho’s great Statesman, King Moshoeshoe I walked from Menkhoaneng to Thaba-Bosiu. 

The founder of Basotho is reported to have left Menkhoaneng to seek a hideout in Thaba-Bosiu in 1824. During the Lifaqane wars, King Moshoeshoe I and his subjects, including old people, children, pregnant women and animals are reported to have traversed about 116 km trek from  Menkhoaneng to Thaba-Bosiu in that year.

The 200th centenary also coincides with the formation of the Basotho nation which was in 1824 and is associated with the Thaba-Bosiu loosely translated (mountain at night).

Expected to join in this walk are Queen ‘Masenate Seeiso and entourage, local media and other notable South African media personalities.

Hon Maretlane called on Basotho to wear their Moshoeshoe walk t-shirts this coming Friday in commemoration of the upcoming 200th centenary and ahead of the year 2023 walk.

The walk will this year commence on 9th March at Menkhoaneng, Leribe and end on the 11th in Thaba-Bosiu, Maseru. With not more than 500 hikers and campers expected this weekend, the local community is ready for this year’s benefits such as offering hot bath water, sleeping mattresses and blankets at a fee.

The tour packages include three days’ catering, accommodation, T-shirts, backpack, bush hat, water bottle water points from various sponsors and  finally a medal at the end as honor of completion.

The challenges anticipated along the three day and night walk are commonly injuries, inaccessible pre mapped routes and roads due to heavy rainfall that has recently been experienced throught the country.

Wednesday leave Pioneer at 10am to ‘Mate Leribe, Thursday from Menkhoaneng to Thaba Phatsoa, Outward Bound still in Leribe, Friday from Thaba Phatsoa via Ha Makhoroana to Malimong, Berea, Saturday from Malimong via Sefikeng to Thaba Bosiu Maseru

The Moshoeshoe walk organizer further expressed concern over what he said Basotho don’t seem to participate in the walk in large numbers. He said the big participation is made by people of Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries.

This he said despite the fact that they have walked from Butha-Buthe to Menkhoaneng in preparation for the iconic walk. Then he also pointed out that Basotho’s participation was poor. 

“Basotho need to be on the forefront of this walk, they should market this journey,” he said.

He said during the walk, they will identify the communities that are in need of footbridges and revisit them post walk to construct them. 

Whereas the annual Moshoeshoe walk is traveled in three days covering about 116km distance from Menkhoaneng, Leribe to Thaba-Bosiu, King Moshoeshoe I and his people took nine days as they had many rests along the way until they arrived at the destination.

The walk traces the footsteps of King Moshoeshoe I and rekindles his virtues. He is commended for his diplomatic approach, peace loving and unifying the then scattered people to form the nation of Basotho. History says he forgave the cannibals who ate his grandfather Peete, and instead of avenging his death, he gave them animals and reintegrated them into the community.

It is suggested that King Moshoeshoe I opted Thaba-Bosiu as a place of refuge where he and it was a safe haven for him and his subjects.

The founder of Basotho nation died on March 11, 1870 a day which is commemorated in Lesotho and it also marks the end of the annual Moshoeshoe walk at Thaba-Bosiu.

Sometimes referred to as ‘Sion of Basotho’, Thaba-Bosiu holds great significance to the history and culture of Basotho.

This will mark the 16th year the annual Moshoeshoe walk since started in 2007.