The flag of Lesotho is one of the most unique and recognizable in the world. The flag’s design is an unwavering reflection of the country’s history, culture, and values. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the flag of Lesotho — its history, meaning, and symbolism.
Where is Lesotho?
The Kingdom of Lesotho is an enclave and landlocked country surrounded by South Africa. Despite its small size, Lesotho is a culturally rich country with much to offer visitors. Formerly known as Basutoland, Lesotho gained independence from the United Kingdom on October 4, 1966.
Lesotho is a fascinating country with a rich culture worth learning more about. The country is known for its traditional woven blankets and colorful Basotho hats, both commonly worn by men and women. Its people come from various backgrounds, including Basotho, Zulu, Xhosa, and Tswana. The economy of Lesotho is based on agriculture, livestock, manufacturing, and mining.
Beyond its impressive history and culture, many unique animals and plants make up Lesotho’s flora and fauna. Find out more about the animals in Lesotho to gain a better understanding of the country.
History and Origin of the Flag of Lesotho
The design of the current flag of Lesotho reflects the country’s recent history and promotes national unity and peace. October 4, 2006, 40 years after the country gained independence, a new flag saw the day. Today’s flag is the third flag design used by the country since its independence from the United Kingdom in 1966.
Lesotho’s Previous Flags
The first flag design of Lesotho was adopted on October 4, 1966, when the country gained independence from Britain. Before independence, the area known as Lesotho was an autonomous territory within the British Colonies of Basutoland. The first flag of Lesotho was blue with a red and green stripe on one side and a white Mokorotlo (or Basotho hat) in the middle. In 1987 it was replaced by a banner that bore the coat of arms of Lesotho.
Half white and half green, the country’s second flag design was split diagonally by a blue stripe. The white side represented peace and was overlaid with a brown silhouette of the Basotho coat of arms. The coat of arms contained a knobkerrie and assegai (traditional weapons), a staff with ostrich feathers and an animal-skin shield. These symbolized past battles that had kept Basotho independence alive. The green side of the flag symbolized prosperity, and the blue stripe in the center represented rain. This second design was used until 2006, when the current flag design was adopted.
The Meaning and Symbolism of Lesotho’s Flag
Lesotho’s current flag features a horizontal triband of blue, white, and green, with a black silhouette of the Mokorotlo (or Basotho hat) in the center. These colors and symbols carry a great deal of meaning and significance.
The blue stripes represent rainfalls vital to agriculture in Lesotho, while the white stripe in the middle represents peace. The green stripe stands for prosperity through livestock and agriculture. The black silhouette of the Mokorotlo (or Basotho hat) in the center represents the people of Lesotho.
Significance of the Mokorotlo
A Mokorotlo (or Basotho hat) is part of the traditional national dress of Lesotho. It is a cone-shaped hat made of moseha, small oat grass, or Basotho blankets and wool. Traditionally only men wore the Mokorotlo, especially tribal chiefs, in courts, but today it is worn by women as well.
The hat’s conical shape is said to have been inspired by the natural shape of Mount Qiloane in Lesotho. The Mokorotlo is an integral part of Basotho culture. It has been declared a National Treasure by the government of Lesotho. It is also recognized as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.
As you can see, Lesotho’s flag is genuinely one-of-a-kind and rich in history, meaning, and symbolism. If you’re lucky enough to visit this beautiful country, keep an eye out for its striking flag!
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The photo featured at the top of this post is © Tatohra/Shutterstock.com
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
How did Lesotho’s flag come to be?
The current design was adopted in October 2006 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Lesotho’s independence from Great Britain. It has remained unchanged since that time.
What do colors and symbols of Lesotho's flag represent?
The flag of Lesotho is made up of three horizontal stripes: blue, white, and green.
The blue stripe represents rainfall (vital to Lesotho’s agriculture), while the white stripe represents peace. The green stripe symbolizes the country’s prosperity from its livestock and agriculture. In the center of the flag is the Mokorotlo (or Basotho hat), representing the people and culture of Lesotho.
How is the flag of Lesotho used today?
The flag of Lesotho is one of the country’s most important national symbols. Today, Lesotho’s flag reminds us of the nation’s history and symbolizes its pride and strength. It is flown at government buildings, diplomatic missions, and special occasions.
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- Review of South African Studies, Available here: https://www.ajol.info/index.php/rosas/article/view/22996
- South Africa, Available here: https://www.southafrica.net/za/en/travel/article/the-culture-of-basotho-history-people-clothing-and-food