The Sotho people are an ethnic group living in Lesotho and South Africa. Southern Sotho people make up about 99 percent of the population of Lesotho. Sotho society was traditionally organized in villages ruled by chiefs. The economy was based on the rearing of cattle and the cultivation of grains such as sorghum.
Several kingdoms developed as a result of a series of wars that engulfed much of southern Africa. During this period, southern Sotho people as well as other ethnic groups sought refuge in the mountainous terrain of what is now Lesotho.The Kingdom of Lesotho (pronounced le-Soo-too) was originally Basutoland.
Quick Facts About Basotho and their tradition.
- The Sotho language, or Sesotho, is a Bantu language closely related to Setswana. Sotho is rich in proverbs, idioms, and special forms of address reserved for elders and in-laws.
- Most names in Sesotho generally have meanings that express the values of the parents or of the community.
- Sotho has a rich tradition of folktales(ditsomoordinonwane)and praise poems(diboko).These are told in dramatic and creative ways that may include audience participation. Folktales are adventure stories which occur in realistic and magical settings.
- The supreme being that the Sotho believe in is most commonly referred to as Modimo. Modimo is approached through the spirits of one’s ancestors, the balimo,who are honored at ritual feasts.
- Lesotho has a number of holidays that recognize its history. These holidays include Moshoeshoe’s Day (March 12) and Independence Day (October 4). Moshoeshoe’s Day is marked by games and races for the nation’s young people.
- In Sesotho, the words for father(ntate)and mother(mme)are used commonly as address forms of respect for one’s elders.
- The general attitude toward childhood is well summarized by the proverb Lefura la ngwana ke ho rungwa, which roughly translates as “Children benefit from serving their elders.”
- Sotho traditional music places a strong emphasis on group singing, chanting, and hand clapping as an accompaniment to dance. Instruments used included drums, rattles, whistles, and handmade stringed instruments.
- One instrument, lesiba, is made from a pole, a string, and a feather. When it is blown, the feather acts as a reed, producing a deep, resonant sound.
- Sotho girls/ initiates took part in lebollo, a ritual that sees girls spending months away from their families with two “basuwe” (traditional teachers). The ritual is meant to help them understand their customs and traditions better and also prepares them for married life, it teaches young women to be good wives.