Basutoland, a mountainous area of South Africa conforming to the borders of present-day Lesotho, is the home of the Basotho people. Moshweshwe I created the Basotho nation from various remnant tribes of the early nineteenth century Lifaqane. The Boers attempted to engage the Basotho against British encroachment, but the Basotho correctly gauged the balance of power in South Africa and sought the protection of the British Crown, receiving it from Victoria I in 1868. Over Basotho objections, the British handed Basutoland over to the Cape Colony in 1871. When fighting broke out with the Xhosa in 1877, the Cape Colony attempted to disarm all Africans, including allies of the British.
   A war erupted when the Basotho refused to surrender their firearms. Skilled in the use of guns, horses, and guerrilla tactics, the Basotho gave as good as they got against the Cape Colony’s poorly trained constabulary forces. Britain resumed direct responsibility and the “Gun War” ended in negotiations with the Basotho keeping their arms. After 1884, Basutoland was governed by indirect rule, and, in1910, a Basutoland council of 99 appointed Basothos was officially established as an advisory council.
   See also <>; <>.
    Sanders, Peter. Moshoeshoe, Chief of the Sotho. London: Heinemann, 1975.

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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