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Lesotho

Kingdom of Lesotho / Mmuso wa Lesotho

Last modified: 2013-12-02 by bruce berry
Keywords: lesotho | shield and spears |
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2:3~  image by Martin Grieve,  08 Oct 2006

Other Lesotho pages:

See also:


Background

A news source from Lesotho reports that parliament has voted 84 to 18 in support of a proposal to change the national flag, and that there is a final vote scheduled for this coming Monday (http://www.pcfm.co.ls/news/news_lesotho_19_09_06.php)

Apparently the plan is to introduce the new flag at midnight 3 October as part of celebrations on the occasion of 40 years of independence.
Jan Oskar Engene, 21 Sept 2006

"Anthony Manyeli of the National Independent Party said people liked the country's first flag, which was introduced at independence from Britain in 1966, as it
has the approval of the people." (http://www.andnetwork.com/index?service=direct/0/Home/older.fullStory&sp=l5214\8).

And furthermore:
"Lentsoe la Basotho of 08 June 2006 displayed on its front page four new possible designs for Lesotho's national flag. As stated by the Deputy Prime Minister, Lesao Lehohla in Parliament on 06 June, these were the four short listed designs from many which had been submitted, and it was now the turn of the public to express an opinion on the designs. Three of the designs have a white triangle enclosing a brown Basotho hat at the hoist. The fourth places the hat in the centre of a horizontal white band. Apart from white and brown, two of the flags have green, blue and white horizontal bands, while the others also have a black band either instead of or in addition to white bands. If one of the designs is adopted for its new flag, Lesotho will set something of a record in changing the design of its flag twice since Independence. The Independence flag was designed by a local architect, Peter Hancock, but its original yellow Basotho hat was changed to white deliberately by the then government so that its original colours would coincide with those of the Basotho National Party. Because of this political association, the Military Government which came to power in 1986 commissioned a new design, and the present flag, designed by Sergeant Retelisitsoe Matete of the Lesotho Defence Force, was introduced in 1987. It now seems, however, that a Basotho hat or mokorotlo is more favoured than the coat of arms which appears on the present flag.

If a new flag is introduced it will deprive schoolteachers of a simple geometrical exercise posed by the present flag which has a blue trapezium and a green triangle in the triangular lower right half of the flag. According to the legal description (although most real flags fail this requirement), the blue and green portions of the flag have to be of equal area. If this is the case, what is the ratio of the blue and green lengths on the lowest side of the flag?" (http://www.trc.org.ls/events/events20.062.htm).
Valentin Poposki, 21 Sept 2006

On http://www.pcfm.co.ls/news/news_lesotho_12_09_06.php is the following:

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY FAILS TO AGREE ON NATIONAL FLAG BILL

Members of the National Assembly failed to debate on the National Flag Bill 2006 after failing to agree that the standing order No. 53(2) be applied on Monday.
The standing order stipulates that the House could table the Bill for debate without giving a four day notice if all members agree.

However, some of the members objected to the move made by the Deputy Speaker Mr.Sephiri Motanyane, and the Bill will now wait for at least four days before it could be debated.

The description and design of the proposed flag has three horizontal stripes from top to bottom of Blue, White and Green bearing the proportions of 3:4:3 of the width measurement, with a Black Basotho Hat centering in the White panel of a height equivalent to 92 percent of the width of the White stripe.

The purpose of the Bill is to address the concerns of Basotho for the new national flag with preferred description and design as the flag has never been changed since 1987. It (the Bill) will ban the use of the National Flag described in the Order of 1987 but provides for places where the National Flag shall be flown.

The Bill is also intended to repeal the National flag Order of 1987 as well as showing the seriousness of the need to respect the National Flag by imposing penalties for any person who would show disrespect, contempt or irreverence towards the flag.
Mikhail Revnivtsev, 24 Sept 2006

On http://www.pcfm.co.ls/news/news_lesotho_13_09_06.php :

NEW PARLIAMENT BUILDING DESIGNED LIKE BASOTHO HAT

The new parliament building to be constructed on top of Mpilonyana Hill has been designed to take the shape of a Basotho Hat. This was disclosed by the Leader of the House and the Acting Prime Minister Mr. Lesao Lehohla when responding to question over the National Flag Bill 2006 in the National Assembly on Tuesday.

Mr. Lehohla said the new parliament building has been designed in such a way that it will shape like 'Mokorotlo', adding that it will look like a traditional Basotho hut. Furthermore he said many Basotho identify themselves with 'mokorotlo' or Basotho Hat which he said even those staying in the neighbouring South Africa display Basotho hats on the back of their cars. 'It is therefore befitting that the New National Flag bears Basotho Hat which is a symbol of Lesotho,' he explained.

He stated that the Black colour on the new flag symbolises Africa which he said is a Black continent that all should be proud of. Other colours on the flag are White, Blue, and Green which represent peace, rain and prosperity respectively. Other Members of Parliament questioned the Black colour on the National Flag. Meanwhile, the Bill was discussed after long debate over the legal procedures including a prerequisite of four days for the Bill to be discussed.
Mikhail Revnivtsev, 24 Sept 2006

On http://www.pcfm.co.ls/news/news_lesotho_19_09_06.php :

MPS GIVE THUMBS UP FOR NEW NATIONAL FLAG BILL

Eighty four members of the national assembly (MPs) have voted for the New National Flag Bill 2006 while eighteen voted against it. This was part of the voting process to get two thirds majority in the National Assembly on Monday.

The New National Flag Bill is intended to replace the existing one which came into being under the army regime in 1986 after the toppling of the then Basotho
National Party
(BNP) government. Speaker of the National Assembly Ms. Ntlhoi Motsamai said for the New National Flag Bill 2006 motion to pass, there was need for two thirds majority to agree hence arrangement was made for each MP to respond by 'yes' or 'no' and eventually the Bill was read for the third time and
passed on the majority votes.

Two MPs Messers Moeketse Malebo who is the leader of Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP) and Advocate Lekhetho Rakuoane of Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) decided not to vote and abstained. Meanwhile, the leader of the House, Mr. Lesao Lehohla had earlier stated that the New National Flag, will cost the Government M84 470.00 to replace the existing one.

He pointed out that the design of the Flag was based on national egos of Peace, Rain and Prosperity as well as the Basotho Hat, symbols which are familiar to every Mosotho. On the other hand, some MPs expressed their concerns that the nation was not given enough time to participate fully in the designing and selecting of the New National Flag while others recommended that the first flag which Lesotho hoisted when she gained independence from the British Colonial rule be reinstated rather than putting up a new one.

National Independence Party (NIP) leader Mr. Anthony Manyeli said Basotho nation do not respect their 'valuable things' like flags hence they are changed every now and then. He was of the opinion that the first flag which was flown in 1966 when Lesotho got its independence should be brought back to avoid every
government in power changing flags.

While a member of Basotho African Congress (BAC) Mr. Hape Tsakatsi expressed concern that not enough time was given to Basotho to exercise their right to select the colours they want on the flag and the design. It is intended that the New National Flag will be flown for the first time on October 03 this year at midnight as part of marking the country's 40th independence.
Mikhail Revnivtsev, 24 Sept 2006

News from the Lesotho Government Portal (http://www.lesotho.gov.ls/articles/2006/Senators_New_Flag.php) is that a new flag has been adopted, a bill passed the Senate on Wednesday, and that it will fly for the first time at midnight on this coming Tuesday, the 40th anniversary of independence. The article states:

"The Upper House of Parliament passed the National Flag Bill, 2006 without any objection during their debate on Wednesday.

This means that the new flag will be hoisted on Tuesday midnight as Planned, replacing the current one which was flown under the Military regime in 1986.

Speaking during the debate, the Principal Chief of Matsieng Chief Masupha Seeiso appealed that the Bill be speeded up in order to give the Government adequate time to make necessary arrangements for the New Flag to start flying on Wednesday.

He however, expressed concern over the frequent changing of the national flags, saying something has to be done to stop that tendency.

On the other hand, the Principal Chief of Kueneng, Mapoteng and Bela Bela chieftainess 'Mantoetse Lesaoana Peete said she liked the colours in the new flag as they are familiar and can be related to Basotho.

She also stated that the Government had no intention of changing the flag to suit its interests, as the new flag has three colours of the opposition Basotho National Party (BNP) and only two of the ruling Lesotho Congress Democracy (LCD).

The Principal Chief said the Government should make sure that at midnight on Tuesday, the new flag is flown at all government offices throughout the country and other places, adding that at least two flags should be provided so that if there can be problems with another, the second could fly.

She also expressed concern over the constant changing of the national flag saying Parliament needs to revisit the constitution in a bid to stop the next regimes from changing the national flag.

Another member, Major General Phisoana Ramaema said every Mosotho understands why in 1986 under the Military rule, the national flag was changed adding that it was only a divine intervention and the military had no interests in party politics hence the Lesotho subsequently went back to democratic rule in 1993 without any ill feelings.

Other speakers included the Principal Chief of Tajane, Ponts'eng and Ramoetsane, Chief Tlali Mohale who said the Government observed all the democratic principles and procedures in changing the flag including consulting the public, getting two thirds majority in the National Assembly and involving the Legislature, Executive and the Judiciary to change the flag.

He also expressed satisfaction with the colours in the new flag saying they promote peace, pray for rain and discourage Basotho from begging for food but to produce their own.

In conclusion, the Minister of Justice, Human Rights and Rehabilitation, Law and Constitutional Affairs Mr. Refiloe Masemene thanked the Members of the Upper House for passing the bill.

He added that it will be easy to identify the new flag with Basotho because of the hat on it.

The flag is estimated to cost close to M84 000 to change it".
Jan Oskar Engene, 01 Oct 2006

The article describing the flag being raised is available here: http://www.mg.co.za/articlePage.aspx?articleid=285582&area=/breaking_news/breaki\
ng_news__africa/
, with the following text and description:

"The tiny Southern African kingdom of Lesotho celebrates its 40th anniversary of independence from Britain on Wednesday by unveiling a new flag to replace a martial one introduced after a 1986 coup.

Deputy Prime Minister Lesao Lehohla said the flag -- whose unveiling will cap national celebrations -- showed "a nation at peace with itself and at peace with its neighbours".

The new flag has three colours: blue for rain, white symbolising peace and green indicating prosperity.

It will also sport a cone-shaped hat, worn by the country's indigenous Basotho people.

The previous flag was designed by a military government after a 1986 coup. It sports the same colours but also portrays a shield, a knobkerrie and spears. ..."
Željko Heimer, 03 Oct 2006


Description

The official Description and Design of the new Lesotho flag is contained in the following Schedule of the National Flag Act 2006: Section 3
 

DESCRIPTION AND DESIGN OF THE NATIONAL FLAG
 

Three horizontal stripes from top to bottom of Blue, White and Green bearing the proportions 3:4:3 of the width measurement, with a Black Basotho Hat centered in the White panel of a height equivalent to 92% of the width of the White stripe.
 

Proportions:               Width  :  Length  2 : 3
 

Colours:                    Pantone Reflex Blue C; White; Black; Pantone Green 347C.
 

Information supplied by the Lesotho Ministry of Home Affairs.
Bruce Berry, 03 Oct 2006

The protocol manual for the London 2012 Olympics (Flags and Anthems Manual, London, 2012 [bib-lna.html]) provides recommendations for national flag designs. Each National Olympic Committee was sent an image of their flag, including the PMS shades, by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) for their approval. Once this was obtained, the LOCOG produced a 60 x 90 cm version of the flag for further approval. So, while these specifications may not be the official, government, version of each flag, they are certainly what the National Olympic Committee believed their flag to be.

For Lesotho : PMS reflex blue, 347 green and black. The vertical flag is simply the horizontal version turned 90 degrees clockwise.
Ian Sumner, 10 Oct 2012


Basotho Hat detail

image by Martin Grieve, 07 Oct 2006

Although, one should be careful,  no where is it said that the shape of the hat must be the same as the one that was on the 1966 flag. The only thing that we know about the hat is that it is a typical Basotho hat, depicted in black and has height equal to 92% of the height of the white stripe.
Željko Heimer, 01 Oct 2006

scan by Mikhail Revnivstev, 05 Oct 2006

The Basotho hat ("mokorotlo") along with the Basotho blanket is part of the traditional dress of Lesotho. The shape of the mokorotlo is said to have from Qiloane, the conical mountain near Thaba Bosiu. Mokorotlo comes from the word "korotla" which means an expression of disagreement. When a court case by two villagers was brought before the king or chief before giving the verdict the king or chief would take off the hat. The villagers then would know that the verdict was coming.
Mikhail Revnivtsev, 05 Oct 2006

An article by Scott Rosenberg of the History Department at Knox College in Galeburg (IL), USA on the Basotho hat is as follows:

The Evolution of a Symbol: Mokorotlo and National Identity in Lesotho

The conical grass hat known as Mokorotlo is considered to be part of the national dress of Lesotho. This paper will trace the physical and cultural evolution of the hat, as part of the emergence of a national identity in Lesotho during the twentieth century. The level of cultural prominence which these hats have obtained illustrates the process by which clothing achieves both cultural and national significance. Contrary to popular belief the Basotho have not always worn these hats. There is no evidence of these hats existing during the nineteenth century. In the early part of the twentieth century chiefs began to wear a hat which was the forerunner of the modern Mokorotlo. At this time men would wear this hat and sing a song known as Mokorotlo on their way to the chiefs court. It is from this connection that the modern hat would become known as Mokorotlo. In the years proceeding the Second World War hat makers began to introduce new designs which drastically altered their position in Basotho society.  Previously these hats had been exclusively the domain of men, but these new designs resulted in a change as women began to manufacture them for sale to Europeans. These new designs which were mass produced for commercial reasons, became increasingly popular with the general public in Lesotho. During the 1950's political figures adorned themselves with these hats in an attempt to link themselves with Lesotho's traditional power structure, the chieftainship. By wearing these hats at rallies the politicians contributed to their growing popularity.

These new designs developed cultural significance only after being harnessed as a symbol by political leaders. Another factor which accelerated the emerging importance of these hats was their increasing association with Lesotho's founder, Moshoeshoe. Even though they appeared several decades after his death it was a plethora of myths connecting Moshoeshoe with the Mokorotlo hat which solidified it as a national symbol. The process by which these hats became associated with Moshoeshoe is reflective of the construction of national identity in Lesotho. The hat had become a powerful symbol of the nation, as one Mosotho stated, "every time we see that hat on the flag or on the automotive licence plates we are reminded of Moshoeshoe."
(Source: Review of Southern African Studies, Volume 3 No. 2 December 1999, pp. 37-60)
Mikhail Revnivtsev, 05 Oct 2006

Last night, Bruce Berry sent me a photograph of the new Lesotho flag. Also a close-up of the hat detail, and I have managed to draw this up in vector format and hence export to gif format for the FOTW website. Bruce photographed the flag courtesy of the official flag supplier to the Lesotho Independence Celebrations which took place a couple of days ago.
Martin Grieve, 07 Oct 2006

After Martin's superb depiction of the design of the Basotho hat on the new Lesotho flag, I checked Whitney Smith's "Flags through the Ages and Across the World" (1975) [smi75b] and notice that the illustration of the Basotho hat on the 1966 flag is the same as that found on the new flag. This confirms the earlier newspaper reports (from posts earlier this week) that the original design of the hat has been re-instated.

I have a 1966 flag which has minor differences in the detail of the hat - particularly its shape and the pattern on the base. I guess this is another example of manufacturers licence.
Bruce Berry, 07 Oct 2006

scan by Andries Burgers, 11 Oct 2006

In view of the recent discussion about the Basotho hat on Lesotho's new flag, I thought that the members of the list might be interested in what the hat actually looks like.

I attach a photo of a group of mounted Basotho in national dress consisting of colourful blankets and the famous hat, plaited from reed grass. The picture was scanned from the local Cape Town evening newspaper, The Cape Argus, and it accompanied an article on Lesotho's economic future. The original context of the photo was not explained.
Andries Burgers, 11 Oct 2006

scan by Andries Burgers, 11 Oct 2006


Aircraft Marking

[Lesotho roundel] image by Željko Heimer, 7 Apr 2002

Roundel of green-white-blue.
The national flag is painted on the fin, explains the note.
[c2e98] has a similar roundel, but with the central disk being much larger.
Also, the pre-1986 aircraft marking are given there, as four coloured roundel of BWRV, out-to-in, and the national flag on the fin.
It seems from the text, that the "roundel version of the national flag" is also used, which I read as circular form of the flag.
Željko Heimer, 7 Apr 2002

The Royal Lesotho Defense Force-Air Squadron was founded in 1978 as the Police Air Wing. Its roundel is shown above with Željko describing it as being blue inside-white-green outside. Other sources [c2e98] shows a similar roundel, but with the central disk being much larger.

However, http://www.fighter-jets.de/fighterjets/luftwaffen/les.jpg shows the Lesotho roundel as being exactly the opposite - green inside and much larger (as in [c2e98] for blue), and blue on the outside.
Dov Gutterman, 19 June 2004