By Thandiwe Kubere

MASERU – In honour and celebration of His Majesty King Letsie III’s 60th birthday, multitudes descended the Mohale’s Hoek race course to watch the Econet Telecom Lesotho’ sponsored Royal Cup that fused horse racing and the creative designer showcase on Saturday, September 23rd.

The Royal Cup also offered a flourishing marketplace with a delightful array of hospitality services, live music and entertainment, captivating fashion shows, and vibrant stalls showcasing a wide variety of products.

Econet Telecom Lesotho’s GM – Marketing Communications and Customer Experience Ms. ‘Mapusetso Nts’ekhe, applauded how eye-pleasing the Royal Cup was to watch, she went on to underscore the telecommunications giant, ETL’s steadfast commitment to support endeavors aimed at promoting and preserving Lesotho’s rich history and cultural heritage.

“As Econet Telecom Lesotho, we are very excited to have injected M500, 000 into The Royal Cup to celebrate His Majesty King Letsie III’s life as an epitome and symbol of the values and cultural beliefs of the Basotho Nation. We strongly believe that it is important that we continue to join forces as stakeholders in our collective efforts to contribute to the country’s development agenda and in celebration of the rich heritage and cultural tapestry of the Kingdom of Lesotho,” said Mrs. Nts’ekhe.

She further indicated that The Royal Cup mirrors Econet Telecom Lesotho’s commitment to walk side-by-side with all customers, providing them with high-quality services across Lesotho while commemorating the extraordinary and life-changing journey of the Basotho nation.

Addressing people who had showed up in numbers for the event, His Majesty King Letsie III confessed his deep love for horse racing and went on to thank all the sponsors, especially ETL and Bienvenue and all the organizers for their hard work and commitment as well as their persistence in laying the foundation for the growth of horse racing in Lesotho.

“I want to humbly plead with the leadership of the horse racing sport to work even harder in effort to level the playing field that will be essential for the benefit of everyone and for this sport that I greatly admire to grow to greater heights,”accentuated His Majesty.

He further expressed his excitement that Basotho are still very much involved in horse racing despite the fact that is has been a while since horse racing competitions have been held in Lesotho. “I would like to congratulate all the winners and all the participants for making the Royal cup a huge success and a very entertaining experience for everyone” said His Majesty King Letsie III.

The Minister of Gender, Youth, Sports, Arts, Culture, and Social Development Hon. Pitso Lesaoana, highlighted the sad impact of COVID-19 around 2020 which negatively affected sports, including horse racing because many competitions had to be halted. However, he expressed his excitement that the Royal cup had brought back the festivities. Hon. Lesaoana thanked the sponsors and congratulated His Majesty King Letsie III for a befitting tribute on His Birthday from the horse racing fraternity.

He went on to reveal that his Ministry has an unwavering commitment to grow sports in Lesotho as outlined in the recently launched Lesotho Sports and Recreation Policy that also seeks to meaningfully contribute to the growth of Tourism and culture in Lesotho.

“The government of the Kingdom of Lesotho remains committed to invest in efforts to professional sports in Lesotho, including horse racing. I’m equally impressed that we have women in the administration of this sport that has brought us all here today and I wish to applaud the organization for the incredible work they have been able to achieve thus far, “concluded Hon. Lesaoana.

On his part, Mr. Motlatsi Russell of Bienvenue expressed his happiness concerning the Royal Cup and pointed out, “It has been an absolute honor to partner with Econet Telecom Lesotho to pull an event of this magnitude for the horse racing sector and the fashion industry as we celebrate His Majesty King Letsie III’s 60th birthday.”

The 2023 edition of the Royal Cup was won by Mr. Jonase Mokwena from neighboring South Africa who walked away with M6000, 00.

It would be a mistake not to mention that fashion enthusiast claimed their part, with bold patterns woven with sacred art and diverse designs of the Seshoeshoe. For it is a representation of Basotho heritage alive and grand in textile, the future and past hand in hand.

Fashion expert and activist Mr. Thato Fonya expressed he was beyond excited and moved by a series of events which paid attention to the fashion industry and witnessing many stakeholders extending a hand to further promote the industry. “The initiative of The Royal Cup and the infusion of the fashion element says we are going somewhere as a country. More people are now appreciative of the creative industry, even at high level dignitaries. So I pray that this could happen every year as it would open many international investment doors”, he said.

The Royal Cup was co-founded by His Majesty, the late King Moshoeshoe II, together with British settlers in the early 1960s. This historic event has evolved into a cherished tradition that celebrates the spirit of Lesotho and brings communities together.