Lesotho Independence Day is observed on 4 October every year.
This year marks the country’s 56th anniversary of independence from the United Kingdom.
Lesotho, officially the Kingdom of Lesotho, is a country landlocked as an enclave in South Africa.
The history of the country, formerly known as Basutoland, started in the early 1800’s when Sotho tribesman escaped the armies of the Zulus and took shelter in the highlands of modern Lesotho.
In the 1820s, Moshoeshoe I, unified various Sotho groups who had fled the armies of the Zulus, as a single nation. By 1822, Lesotho became a single entity under King Moshoeshoe I.
The kingdom constantly developed through contact with British and Dutch colonists from Cape Colony. From the 1830s to 1860s, Boer settlers began infringing on the Sotho territory, leading to border wars. In 1867, the Sotho people triumphed over the Boers in the Free State–Basotho War.
After the conflict, they appealed to Queen Victoria to make Basotholand a British protectorate to deter further invaders. The Queen heeded the request and Basotholand became a British Protectorate the following year.
In 1869, the British signed a treaty with the Boers that defined the boundaries of Basotholand, reducing King Moshoeshoe’s kingdom to half its original size.
Conflicts erupted with Britain erupted when the British government tried to force Lesotho into union with the rest of its South African colonies. Eventually, Lesotho was allowed to have Sotho leaders in 1960, making it an autonomous state under the British.
On October 4, 1966, Lesotho finally gained independence from Britain and became a fully sovereign state and a Commonwealth member.
General elections in the country are scheduled for 7 October to elect all 120 members of the National Assembly.
The Commonwealth previously announced it will deploy a team led by Seychelles’ former president, Danny Faure, to observe the electoral process.