Isolated and continuously surrounded by other states, the military history of Lesotho (formerly Basutoland) has been driven by external forces posing the threat of invasion and internal forces attempting to maintain a balance between diplomacy and security. Although the history of Lesotho is dominated by its founder, Moshoeshoe, it was the nation’s reaction to colonial and postcolonial rule that continues to drive its military identity to this day.


Moshoeshoe was in stark contrast to other African leaders of his time—namely, Shaka Zulu—for his respect for human dignity, self-discipline, selective innovation of Western tools, and information, but above all, he was a realist in the changing African political landscape. The conflicts that shaped Moshoeshoe’s early years until the 1820s largely involved chiefs beginning to reverse political fragmentation ...

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