Lesotho Timeline

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Pre-1804
Khoisan hunter gatherers are the first inhabitants of the region, before Sotho-Tswana peoples colonized the general region between the third and 11th centuries.
1804
Moshoeshoe, a son of Mokhachane, a minor chief of the Bakoteli lineage, forms his own clan.
1822
Basutoland founded by King Moshoeshoe I, who unites various groups to repel  Zulu King Shaka’s onslaught. They settle in the region of  the Butha-Buthe Mountain, and Moshoeshoe makes Thaba Bosiu his capital.
1834
Afrikaner trekkers enter the territory, beginning a series of wars.
1835-1868
Lesotho acts as a buffer between the Afrikaners and British colonial interests, and supplies seasonal farm workers to both.
1837-1855
Printed Sotho works begin to appear after Moshoeshoe invites Thomas Arbousset, Eugène Casalis and Constant Gosselin,missionaries from the Paris Evangelical Society, to the region. Casalis acts as interpreter and foreign relations advisor, and helps the Basothoacquire guns for use against the encroaching Europeans.
1851
British forces are defeated by the Sotho army at Kolonyama, and again the next year before a diplomatic agreement is reached. The British withdraw in 1854.
1858
Moshoeshoe fights a series of wars with the Boers.
1868
Basutoland is annexed by the British, and becomes a British protectorate.
1869
The Boers and British sign a treaty at Aliwal North that sets the boundaries of Basutoland, cutting Moshoeshoe’s area in half.
1870
King Moshoeshoe I dies.
1871
Basutoland comes under the rule of the Cape colony, against the will of the people.
1881
Basuto chiefs go to war against the Cape Colony over the right of Africans to bear arms.
1884
Basutoland once again becomes a British protectorate after a revolt against the Cape Colony. The country comes under the rule of a governor, with traditional chiefs in control of autonomous regions.
1903
A council is appointed to advise the British Resident Commissioner on the codification of customary law.
1939-45
20,000 Sotho soldiers serve with the British forces during WWII.
1943 618
Basuthos serving with the British Eighth Army die when their troopship is torpedoed by the Germans off the Tunisian coast.
1950s
Emergence of political parties, who demand independence.
1966
Basutoland gains independence on October 4 as Lesotho, with King Moshoeshoe II the monarch and Chief Leabua Jonathan of the Basotho National Party (BNP) as prime minister.
1970
Chief Leabua Jonathan suspends the constitution after the BNP (23 seats) loses the January election to the Basutoland Congress Party (BCP, 36 seats); King Moshoeshoe II is sent into temporary exile and BCP leaders are imprisoned. Leabua rules until 1986
1980
The Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC) is established by 9 countries with the Lusaka Declaration (Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe to lessen economic dependence on apartheid South Africa.
1981
BCP sympathiser Benjamin Masilo is attacked in September. A few days later, another BCP sympathizer, Edgar Mahlomola Motuba, is killed.
1985
Two ANC activists and eight others killed in a raid into Lesotho by the South African Defence Force.
1986
Borders blocked by South Africa, which demands the expulsion of the ANC from the country.
Major-General Justin Lekhanya takes power after deposing BNP’s Chief Jonathan Leabua in a coup.
1990
King Moshoeshoe II is sent into permanent exile after various assassination attempts. His son Letsie III becomes king.
Lesotho severs ties with the People’s Republic of China and re-establishes ties with Taiwan (the Republic of China).
1991
Lekhanya is forced from power by Colonel Elias Tutsoane Ramaema, who lifts a ban on political activity.
1992
Moshoeshoe II returns from exile as an ordinary citizen.
1993
Ramaema hands over power to an elected BCP government. Letsie III tries unsuccessfully to have his father, Moshoeshoe II, reinstated as the head of the constitutional monarchy.
1994
Letsie III stages a military coup, ousting the BCP government.
1995
After the SADC intervenes, the BCP government is reinstated, and Letsie III abdicates. Moshoeshoe II is restored to the throne.
1996
Moshoeshoe II, aged 57, dies in a car accident on January 15; Letsie III is sworn in as king.
1997
Lesotho soldiers put down a police mutiny in Maseru in February.
Prime Minister Ntsu Mokhehle forms the Lesotho Congress of Democrats (LCD) after he is dismissed by the BCP. Many BCP MPs follow him into the new party.
1998
The new leader of the LCD, Pakalitha Mosisili, becomes prime minister after the LCD wins the general election in May, but protests by opposition followers and a rebellion by an army faction on September 21 result in an intervention by the South African Development Community.  South African and Botswana troops are sent in to restore order; scores die in clashes, and the capital Maseru lies in ruins as looters ransack stores and fires break out all over the city.
The Multiparty Interim Political Authority is established in December and charged with overseeing future elections.
1999
South African and Botswana peacekeepers are withdrawn in April/May after a seven-month mission.
American entertainer Val Pringle is killed while confronting burglars at his home outside Maseru.
2000
Letsie III marries Karabo Montsoeneng,in a ceremony attended by heads of states and thousands of people.
2002
LCD wins parliamentary elections in June and Mosisili is sworn in for a second term as prime minister.
2003
Queen mother Mamohato Bereng Seeiso (62) dies on September 7 after collapsing in a church outside the capital.
2004
Three years of drought culminate in food shortages, the government declares a State of Emergency in February and appeals for aid.
A national census puts the population of Lesotho at 2,031,348.
Prime Minister Mosisili takes a public HIV test as part of a campaign to fight the HIV epidemic; Lesotho suffers from one of the highest rates of HIV in the world.
Lesotho Highlands Water Project, a multibillion dollar project, begins  supplying water to South Africa after the completion of its first phase.
2005
Voters go to the polls for the first local elections since independence, to choose representatives for 129 councils. Opposition parties, charging that they were not given time to prepare, boycott the process.
In November Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwereceive food aid from the United Nations food agency.
2006
Prince Harry launches a charity on April 28 in memory of his late mother Princess Diana to help AIDS orphans in Lesotho.
In May Irish rock star Bono begins an African tour in Lesotho to unveil a new initiative to fight AIDS in the country’s ailing textile industry.
A 14-nation southern Africa summit closes on August 18 with a pledge to speed up regional economical integration.
Attacks launched against Foreign Minister Monyane Moleleki, who is injured, and MP Bereng Sekhonyana, who is killed. An attack in November, thought to be directed against Trade Minister Minister Mpho Malie, results in the death of a Dutch aid worker Samuella Jacobina Verwey (36) of the Clinton Foundation.
2007
The LCD wins the general election on February 17, taking 61 of 80 constituencies, but opposition parties challenge the results. In March opposition parties .successfully call for a general strike in protest over allocation of parliamentary seats.
Lesotho suffers its worst drought in 30 years, State of Emergency declared in March.
October, five charged with high treason for attacks on the homes of the opposition leader and cabinet ministers.
2008
The US signs agreements to boost trade and investment ties with countries of the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU), which includes Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland.
Miners find a huge 500 carat diamond in September.
2009
Prime Minister Mosisili survives a military-style assassination attempt on April 22. Nine men, seven of whom were arrested in South Africa, are charged on 31 counts, including murder and attempted murder.
The population of Lesotho stands at about 2,067,000.
2010
The People’s Charter Movement, which wants to see Lesotho become a part of South Africa, delivers a petition to the South African High Commission in May, requesting integration.
2011
Government and opposition reach an agreement in April over allocation of parliamentary seats at the 2012 elections, aimed at easing a dispute over the 2007 vote.
2012
Pakalitha Mosisili resigns on February 28 from the faction-riven ruling party to form the Democratic Congress (DC).
Mosisili's Democratic Congress (DC) wins 48 of 120 seats in the general election held on May 26. Opposition parties unite to form a coalition government on May 30. King Letsie III appoints the All Basotho Convention’s Thomas Thabane as prime minister on June 7, and he is sworn in the next day.
2014
Thabane suspends parliament.
A military coup attempt sees Thabane fleeing to South Africa before the South African National Defence Force restores order in the country.

Last updated : 01-Feb-2016

This article was produced for South African History Online on 15-Oct-2014