King Moshoeshoe I docuseries unveiled

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Mohalenyane Phakela and Tokelo Rasephei

VOLUMES two and three of the Moshoeshoe: The Mountain Kingdom documentary is finally ready for the market after a two year wait that was caused by funding challenges.

The three-part documentary chronicles the founding of the Basotho nation by King Moshoeshoe I in the 19th century when he brought together various tribes from different parts of southern Africa until his death. It also showcases the evolution of Lesotho since his death.

The film was produced by Moroka-Pula Productions and Phokeng Communications under the stewardship of Kalosi Ramakhula and Lebohang Phooko. The research was conducted with the help of local historians and others based in former colonial power, Britain as well as France which sent the first Christian missionaries to Lesotho.

Part one was released in 2013 and it focused on the early years of King Moshoeshoe 1. It also covers his departure from his birth place of Menkhoaneng in Butha Buthe to the Qiloane Plateau (Thaba Bosiu) in Maseru district which became his fortress in 1824.

Part two was scheduled for release in 2015 but this did not happen due to low sales of part one which Ramakhula attributed to poor marketing.

Speaking to the Weekender this week, Ramakhula said he used his savings from a production job he got early this in South Africa to fund the release of volumes two and three of the documentary.

“I got a job in Bloemfontein to work on the Dr Rantlai Molemela (the late founder of Bloemfontein Celtic football club) documentary and raised funds before going back to the studio with Saba Sehloho for him to edit the remaining part,” Ramakhula said.

“The initial plan was to have part two only but after new discoveries and additional information about Lesotho today, we decided to break it down into volume two and three with each running for one hour 15 minutes.”

Volume two begins with the story of the Bataung tribe’s alliance with King Moshoeshoe 1 and it also touches on the arrival of the Afrikaners at the Orange River. This volume also covers the two wars between the Basotho and the British.

King Moshoeshoe 1’s military prowess and diplomatic dexterity are presented by history authorities. The last chapter of the volume details the arrival of Sir George Clerk from Britain and his meeting with King Moshoeshoe 1 to arbitrate on the land issues between the Afrikaners and Basotho.

Volume three covers the establishment of the Afrikaner state (the Orange Free State) in 1854 under its first President, Josias Hoffman.

During his tenure, the Orange Free State and Lesotho enjoyed cordial relations but that changed soon after Hoffman was replaced by President Jacobus Nicolaas Boshoff. The two states were suddenly embroiled in disagreements that led to three major wars, all of which were an attempt by the Free State government to conquer Lesotho. King Moshoeshoe 1 successfully defended the Basotho nation until the signing of the annexation treaty by the British in 1868. Lesotho became a British protectorate and His Majesty died in 1870.

“By watching these two volumes, people will discover Morena Moshoeshoe beyond the common knowledge that he advocated for peace, but also the fact that he turned Lesotho into the centre of pan-African politics with many seeking advice from him.

“Although the British were claimed to be friends of Morena Moshoeshoe, they introduced military sanctions on Basotho, not knowing Morena Moshoeshoe’s people had learned to manufacture their own guns and powder which they used to defeat the Afrikaners.

“The information is presented in an intriguing manner which will keep viewers glued to their screens. This is a must watch,” Ramakhula said.

The film’s production manager Hlathe Moteane added that they had developed clear marketing and distribution framework which will ensure that the latest releases do not flop like volume one.

“Our review based on volume one showed us that distribution goes along with marketing and part one failed because it was only distributed to various retail outlets without alerting people about it.

“We are in talks with various marketing outfits, mostly indigenous Basotho companies to be part of the project to ensure it reaches every Mosotho regardless of the location.

“The biggest strategy so far is placing it online for streaming, rentals and downloads. We believe this strategy will reach out to other nations who would like to know about the founding of Lesotho.”

Moshoeshoe: The Mountain King Volume 2 and 3 copies acre currently available at Pioneer Mall’s Basutoland Ink kiosk and Lifestyle Books, La Music Mania LNDC, AVANI Maseru and Lesotho, Thaba Bosiu Cultural Village, Mazenod Book depots as well as Morija Book depots. The official film launch is set for March 2018 which is the national month dedicated to the founder of Basotho nation.

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