Centenary memorial lecture for Dr Leabua Jonathan held in Maseru

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A Centenary Memorial Lecture for the former Lesotho Prime Minister Dr. Leabua Jonathan has been held in Maseru. Chief Leabua was a founding member of the Basotho National Party which openly opposed the apartheid regime.

Between 1982 and 1985, 42 African National Congress (ANC) members and some Basotho nationals were massacred by the South African government. A man who led Lesotho to its independence has been celebrated. This was while the apartheid regime was cracking down on those who opposed the oppressive system.

Retired academic Professor Kopano Makoa says Dr Leabua defiantly rejected demands by the apartheid regime. Makoa says the apartheid government wanted Dr Leabua to expel and handover to it all the exiles that nit declared as a threat to it.

Many political activists such as Chris Hani, Tito Mboweni, and even Jama Mbeki the youngest brother of former President Thabo Mbeki, found refuge in the mountain kingdom.

South Africa will always remember that generosity. “We will never, ever forget the people of Lesotho hence our Free State government will in January erect a statute of Jonathan Leabua in Bloemfontein,” says ANC Free State Secretary Paseka Nompondo.

A statue of Chief Leabua will be erected in Bloemfontein and the N8 will be renamed the Dr Leabua Highway. “Many did not know that this is the man that basically hid our own refugees when we were fighting for our own liberation.  I think it’s a history for the young people. This is a documentary that we must play throughout the whole country, so that Basotho when they are there, they are not enemies. They are our own brothers and sisters,” says ANC Free State Chairperson Sam Mashinini.

ANC Free State Deputy Chairperson Kwekwe Bulwane says; “We have a very rich history between ourselves and the Basotho. It’s not an issue that we steal their cows, they steal ours. We marry their daughters; they marry ours. So we have a very rich history between the two nations. We must find the person who gave the tip-off to the apartheid system, who was a sell out at that time, who gave out information to the apartheid system to kill our people in that manner.”

Nearly 36 years later, the first Annual Maseru Massacre Race will be inaugurated on 09 December to mark the killing of 42 people in the Mountain Kingdom.