The Basotho Culture and Its Origins

basotho men

Culture plays a major role in the average South Africans life. This is evident in the way we think, behave and in the way that we treat one another. It is true that we have a number of cultures and traditional practices but do we know where it they originate from?

Sesotho man and horse
Image: South African Tourism

The beginning of cultural segregation.

All tribes lived in peace until they were invaded by a Nguni fugitive who fled the nation of Natal, this was followed by attacks from armies led by Mzilikazi and Shaka. This led to unrest which influenced the division of tribes, who later spread in different parts of the land.

The Basotho tribe is divided according to their clan names,which specify the origins of their ancestors. These include the Bataung, Bafokeng, Bakuena, and Basia. In Lesotho the Royal family is mainly made up of the Bakuena clan.

It is said that the Basotho tribe originated from the northern part of South Africa. This is where they stayed before making heir way down to different parts of the country.

The preservation of culture

Image: Briefly

Even though they are of different clans, the Basotho tribe have preserved some of their cultural practices to date. These include their traditional attire and initiation practice. Young Basotho girls wear (a) Sefaha sa letsopa le Thethana ya banana, which in translation are a neckpiece and a skirt. These neck pieces are made out of clay beads and the skirt is made out of woven fiber. The young boys dress in what is called (a) Tseha, this is a an under garment, cut in a triangular shape to cover their private parts and it is usually made out of sheep skin.  

The passage into adulthood


As the young girls and boys become young men and women, the attire changes to cover more skin. The coming of age is another essential mark for this tribe. Young men and women go to initiation school where they are taught about life, growth and being a contributing member of society. Young girls get taught how to take care of a household while boys are taught about courage and endurance.

The fashion


The tribe is also known for their head gear, namely the Kuoane, Kharetsana and Sekola (which is mainly worn by warriors) and the most infamous one being a conical shaped hat which is made up of dry grass. The conical shape with a blanket called Seana marena are most associated with the tribe.

The importance of cultural education

South Africa is a very diverse nation with a rich heritage. Cultural education and respect is the only way to live in peace in our land. Even though we hope to live in harmony with all tribes, we have managed to co-exist with each other and try to eradicate tribalism and the division its caused.