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Referring to a prominent sandstone plateau in north-west Lesotho, the name Thaba-Bosiu literally means ‘night mountain’. Although only 1,800 metres above sea level it rises sheer out of the plain and is a formidable natural fortress. This is what the name implies: that its size is deceptive from afar and night falls before enemies can make the ascent. It is a sacred site in Lesotho: first, because it was the mountain retreat of the Basotho from the time of King Moshoeshoe I onwards. From here he defended his territory against enemies that included Boer commanders and African cattle raiders. Second, because Moshoeshoe and his family are buried on top of the plateau, which is one of the most spiritual sites in the country. It was this plateau that Lesotho’s first missionary, Eugene Casalis climbed in 1833, to meet Moshoeshoe and gain his support to establish the first Christian mission to Basotho.
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