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May 18, 2024

King Letsie III, typical Mosotho child

Born on July 17 1963, King Letsie III was raised like other boys in his village as he would herd and look after livestock at cattle posts based at Mantsónyane and Semonkong during school holidays.

These, according to Kings’ family members, his friends and his village elderly people who saw him grow as a young leader, herder, sportsperson, Christian and above all, farmer.

The King, who ruled the Basotho nation from the age of 34 is also described as a gentle, quiet but strong person, who respects other people regardless of their status.

The only brother to the King who is also the Principal Chief of Matsieng, Chief Seeiso Bereng Seeiso said their parents raised them like other Basotho children even though they attended school at Iketsetseng Private School, a school which was attended by children from upper class families in Maseru and England.

“Our father was very strict and whenever he heard that there would be any festivity in Maseru, he would send us to Matsieng on that date to herd livestock,” he laughed.

He added that his father would ensure that they go to Matsieng during school holidays to herd livestock, go to the fields and cattle posts based in Semonkong and Mants’onyane.

“We used to ride horses with my brother (the King) to patrol boundaries and fields,” he stressed.

He described the King as a gentle, quiet person who takes his own time to make decisions, saying he likes squash, crop farming and rearing livestock.

He added that his father ensured that he moulded King Letsie III as he knew he would lead the nation, indicating that he even sent him to the mines based in South Africa to have a feel of what Basotho men were doing to earn a living and the challenges they faced as mine workers.

“Our parents sent us to many countries including our late sister to learn more because they knew we would be Chiefs”, he said, emphasising that their parents loved them dearly.

“That love taught us to forgive one another when one is wrong,” saying they strive to raise their children the same way they were raised although times have changed but they have taught them to respect other people regardless of their status and have taught them the importance of farming as it is the main source of economic growth.

He emphasised that the 25 years, in which his brother has ruled the Basotho nation have not been easy, saying even Basotho could attest to that.

“I pray to God that Basotho could go back to their roots and promote peace so that the King could lead the nation that grows not the one that fights one another” he said, wishing the King a happy birthday and that God grants him Solomon’s wisdom, patience and mercy.

The King’s Uncle, Chief Masupha Seeiso said they were a family of seven children including the Late King Moshoeshoe II but all have passed on except himself and his youngest sister Chieftainess Thakane Seeiso.

He said he was entrusted to raise King Letsie III in 1969 and ensured that he raised him the same way he was raised as a child, saying he was a herder and ate on the same dish with other village boys.

He added that as royal family, they like crop farming and rearing livestock hence during school holidays, he would instruct the King to take cattle from the horse stable which used to be based, where it is today, Maseru  mall to Semonkong on foot and would then take those marked from the former to Mants’onyane.

“He used to engage in “mock stick fighting a game played by young boys while herding cattle or goats and sheep” (ho kalla) as a result had a stick wound on his head like other boys and that is one of the things that made him who he is today,” he stressed.

Mr. Kuena Phafane who worked at the office of the late King Moshoeshoe II from 1964 said he knew King Letsie III when he was between one and two years, saying the young Prince was loved dearly by his parents and the community of Matsieng.

He said the King’s character has never changed to this day as he is still humble, quiet and respectful.

Another aspect that he singled out about the King, is his passion towards education and farming, indicating that he has established the Royal Education Development Trust to ensure that vulnerable children access education at High School level.

“The King likes crop farming, always produces good yield and has plenty of livestock” he added.

Mr. Phafane said Basotho are privileged to have him as their King.

One of his Friends, a 61-year- old Mr. Ntholeng Kokobi Makara said he grew up with the King at the Royal Palace from a young age.

He said they used to milk cows every morning before going to school, move horses to the royal palace from the horse stable which was based at Maseru mall and would move cattle on foot from the horse stable on weekends to Mants’ónyane.

He described the King as a person who does not like conflicts, never engaged in physical fights with anyone, hates gossip and lies.

He added that he likes squash games, horse racing , soccer and golf, saying he is the person one would enjoy being in his company because he likes jokes, talkative when around his friends and down to earth.

He also said the King is a supportive and true friend who loves people and is a dedicated Roman Catholic Christian who does not discriminate against churches as he visits other churches when invited.

“The King prays, loves and believes in God, we used to pray at the Royal Palace Chapel every evening “he said.

Archbishop Tlali Lerotholi OMI of the Roman Catholic Church described Jubilee as the time when a person remembers where he comes from, an opportunity for reconciliation of the people, introspection of ones relationship with God and other people, spiritual healing of people, as well as transformation of one’s life amongst others.

He said the King’s Birthday, which has the repetition of number 7 is celebrated on the seventh month,seventeenth day and as the 7th King of Lesotho signifies completion, saying the number (seven) signifies important days and events written in the Bible.

He indicated that the royal family joined the Catholic Church since the reign of King Griffiths Lerotholi and has always been submissive to the church and God to date, highlighting that King Letsie III was given the Military Honour of Constantine in 2013 by Pope Francis I in Rome.

Therefore, he emphasised the need for the nation to celebrate the 60th birthday of the King whom God has granted a healthy life for the past 25 years, serving the nation wholeheartedly as King.

“Hearties birthday your Majesty, the world honours what you have done for Basotho, wishing you all the best” he said.

Scott Hospital Improvement Project Coordinator Ms. Ntsebe Kokome said it was an honour that the hospital management of that time was entrusted to ensure safe birth of the Prince, saying the hospitals’ and community of Morija’s pride is based on that.

She indicated that statistics on children born at the hospital since the birth of the King increased drastically over the years as mothers from all corners of the country still come to the hospital for maternity care.

“The birth of the King at the hospital coupled with our Primary Health Care contributes towards the increasing number of children born at the hospital,” she said.

She added that the fact that COVID-19 vaccination was launched by the King at the hospital also put the hospital on the map, indicating that the King has contributed immensely towards the development of the hospital though the Scott Hospital Improvement Project (SHIP) which was established in 2014.

She said the King supports the project by ensuring that it gets donors, saying they received funding from Turkey for refurbishment and equipment of the labour ward.

She added that the Prince Mohato Children’s ward has also been refurbished through this project as well as the operating theatre and waiting mothers’ homes.

“Lesotho Evangelical Church in Southern Africa also funded the digital X-ray machines and the King also provided the COVID-19 equipment” she said.

She also indicated that the King visits the hospital every Christmas and presents gifts to new-borns and some patients, wishing the King a happy birthday.

Mrs. Mabakoena Mphakoanyane, the Acting Principal of Iketsetseng Community English Medium School, where the King attended from pre-school until standard five said her predecessors described the King as a typical student, who would go out of the school premises with his friends after classes and hide when the school bus came to take him home.

“The body guards, with the assistance of teachers would look for the young Prince but find him outside school premises having fun with his friends,” she said.

She said the fact that the King is a product of Iketsetseng coupled with good performance of the school have put the school on the map even today as the number of students has increased over the years.

She wished the King a happy birthday as he turns 60 years and to continue loving and protecting the Basotho nation.

Meanwhile, multitudes of Basotho are expected to gather at the Setsoto Stadium on July 17 to celebrate the 60th birthday of King Letsie III.

The King was born at the Scott Hospital in Morija, a town south of the capital Maseru. He attended school at Iketsetseng Private school and at Ampleforth College United Kingdom. From there, he went on to study at the National University of Lesotho, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Law. He then went on to study at the University of Bristol (Diploma in English Legal Studies, 1986), Wolfson College, Cambridge (Development Studies, 1989), and Wye College (Agricultural Economics). He completed his studies in 1989, when he returned to Lesotho.

He was installed as the Principal Chief of Matsieng on December 16, 1989. His coronation took place on October 31, 1997 at Setsoto Stadium and King Charles III (then Charles, Prince of Wales) attended the ceremony.

On  December 01 2016, in Rome, King Letsie III was appointed as the Food and Agriculture Organization‘s newest Special Ambassador for Nutrition by the Organization’s Director-General, José Graziano da Silva.

In 2000 he got married to Karabo Motšoeneng, with whom he has two daughters and one son, Princess Senate Mohato SeeisoPrincess ‘Maseeiso Mohato Seeiso and Prince Lerotholi  Mohato Bereng Seeiso.


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