I travelled to Lesotho in 2014.
The largest ethnic group in Lesotho is the Basotho.*
Vocal choirs, which sing church music in Sesotho, are extremely popular.*
The Marija Arts and Cultural Festival is a prominent Sotho music festival, held annually, which highlights the dance and music of the Basotho people.*
The Basotho delight in music and dance, which accompany many of their ceremonies and social activities.*
These praise songs are referred to as lifela tsa litsamaea naha or "songs of the travellers".*
At Ha Kome there is a remarkable village where cave dwellings have been carved out under towering rocks. The families still living there today are descendents of the original people who “built” the caves in the 19th century and the site is now a National Heritage Site. The people living there now still live much as their forefathers did almost two centuries ago and those who have occupied the caves over the years have left a rich cultural history.*
Lesotho (le-soo-too), officially known as the Kingdom of Lesotho is a mountainous, landlocked country surrounded by the Republic of South Africa. The first settlers were Bantu speaking people who called themselves the Basotho.
Beautiful, culturally rich, safe, and easily accessible from Johannesburg, Lesotho is a vastly underrated tourist destination. In comparison to South Africa, Lesotho's Basotho people are unique in culture, along with the highland terrain, which is a topographical extreme. The country's hospitable mountain lodges and trading posts will give travelers a refreshing perspective of Southern Africa.
Lesotho is essentially an alpine country, where villagers on horseback in multi-coloured balaclavas and blankets tread precipitous terrain. The hiking and trekking is often made on a famed Basotho pony, in order to enjoy the world class infrastructure of its three stunning national parks.
The 1000m-high "lowlands" offer craft shopping and sights, but don't miss a trip to the southern, central or northeastern highlands, where streams traverse ancient ground where dinosaurs flourished.
From Lesotho, we journey to a nearby fishing village just beyond the kingdom's peripheries, near Johannesburg.
The Basotho culture is immersed in musical traditions.*
These choirs are formed in villages, towns, churches, etc., and can be heard on the radio every evening.*
Basotho rituals are seldom practiced without being accompanied by music or dance.*
Since musical sound is shaped by people's values, beliefs and traditions, the Basotho songs are known to mark cultural experiences.*
There is tremendous following for famo, contemporary Sesotho music, which features the accordian and oil drum such as that by Mosotho Chakela.*
The Maletsunyane Falls at 192m are at their most spectacular in summer and best appreciated from the bottom of the gorge.*
Maseru--whose name is a Sesotho word meaning “place of the sandstone”--is the capital of Lesotho, and also the largest city in the kingdom. It is situated on the north western border with South Africa.
The Alliance Francaise of Maseru, in collaboration with Lesotho’s Pusha Love campaign, French Institute South Africa and Mantsopa Communications, have put their minds together on a creative workshop to develop giant puppets.
Many Basotho artists from diverse backgrounds: sculptors, writers, dancers, scriptwriters, welders, seamstresses, and painters, participated in the workshop to make giant puppets to promote healthy behaviors among communities and individuals.
While the giant puppets have other cultural meanings, the campaign challenges men to find their individual reason to get an HIV test. After their creation, the giant puppets have since embarked on a tour of Lesotho, reaching communities with important messages about health and HIV testing.
Traditional musical instruments include lekolulo, a kind of flute played by herding boys, setolo-tolo, resembling an extended jaw harp played by men using their mouth, and the women's stringed thomo.*
The music recording industry is nascent, but many of the Basotho musicians sign and South African companies - undermining growth prospects.*
Music, among the Basotho, is not only a form of recreation, but is also integral to their culture and daily life.*
For example, praise singing is mostly competitive recitation of songs and poems about the experiences of Basotho men working on the mines.*
In the mountain kingdom of Lesotho, boys as young as five spend months on end tending cattle in the isolation of remote highland country. For the young, becoming a herd boy is a cultural obligation in Lesotho society, a practice which leaves many children deprived of an education.*
Young boys learn traditional stick fighting as they grow up, as a ‘martial art’. These sticks are called Mulamu and are often carefully decorated with brightly coloured wire. A Mulamo is a ‘traditional weapon’ and it is a sign of being a ‘young man’ to carry one.*
Lesotho is an African country who's boarders are completely surrounded by South Africa.The traditional rural culture is strong amongst its citizens who prefer to live in village clusters on the country's vast mountains. The citizens are mainly agriculturalists; they cultivate crops and herbs to live off of as well as sell in markets. Animals are kept in small farms and used as methods of transportation, assistance with cultivation of crops, and ultimately income.
Music is important to Lesotho culture, and groups of people will come together to sing and play instruments at various community gatherings such as religious gatherings or community festivals. As well as music, Les Grandes Personnes, or the giant marionette puppets, can be seen at festivals, street performances, marching in parades, or even on the world stage.
*These captions are from South Africa (Lesotho and Swaziland) -- Lonely Planet's travel guide.