Our Background

The Royal Archives, Museum and Information Resource Centre is a registered non-governmental organization which was established in March 2008 by the Royal family and is administered on its behalf by professionals in various fields of academia.

The home of the Royal Archives, Museum and Information Resource Centre is an old office of the late Paramount Chieftainess ‘Mants’ebo Seeiso and King Moshoeshoe II.

The origins of Matsieng can be traced to the time when Moshoeshoe I sent his senior sons, Letsie I and Molapo to Morija to keep an eye on and provide security for the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society (P.E.M.S.). In 1858, following the burning down of his village in Morija by Free State troops during the first Basotho-Boer War, also called the ‘War of Senekal’, Letsie I relocated to Ha Rakhuiti later called Matsieng (Place of Letsie) about 6 km north-east of Morija. Upon the death of Moshoeshoe I, Matsieng became the royal capital of Paramount Chiefs during the colonial period and has been the traditional home of Lesotho’s royalty since independence.

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The Royal Archives, Museum and Information Resource Centre is a registered non-governmental organization which was established in March 2008 by the Royal family and is administered on its behalf by professionals in various fields of academia. The home of the Royal Archives, Museum and Information Resource Centre is an old office of the late Paramount Chieftainess Mants’ebo Seeiso and King Moshoeshoe II.

The origins of Matsieng can be traced to the time when Moshoeshoe I sent his senior sons, Letsie I and Molapo to Morija to keep an eye on and provide security for the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society (P.E.M.S.). In 1858, following the burning down of his village in Morija by Free State troops during the first Basotho-Boer War, also called the ‘War of Senekal’, Letsie I relocated to Ha Rakhuiti later called Matsieng (Place of Letsie) about 6 km north-east of Morija. Upon the death of Moshoeshoe I, Matsieng became the royal capital of Paramount Chiefs during the colonial period and has been the traditional home of Lesotho’s royalty since independence.

The Basotho emerged as a nation when Moshoeshoe I gathered together remnants of various clans and ethnic groups fleeing the ravages of the tribal wars or “lifaqane” waged by the “Amazulu” and “Amandebele” across the sub region in the early 19th Century, settling on the top of a small hill, Thaba-Bosiu which is today a national shrine. From here Moshoeshoe continued to amalgamate remnants of tribal groups eventually building up a small but steadily growing nation.

Moshoeshoe I, 1824-1870

During his reign, the young Basotho nation fought a series of wars with, among others, the Boer Republic of the Orange Free State, losing substantial amount of productive land in the process of post war settlement in which the British colonial Government played a central role. The lost land, which remains a sore point for Basotho today, includes a large part of the present Free State Province of neighbouring South Africa. In 1870, Moshoeshoe I died and was succeeded by his eldest son, Letsie I who was the first Morena e Moholo to be styled Paramount Chief by the British Colonial government.

Moshoeshoe I, 1824-1870

During his reign, the young Basotho nation fought a series of wars with, among others, the Boer Republic of the Orange Free State, losing substantial amount of productive land in the process of post war settlement in which the British colonial Government played a central role. The lost land, which remains a sore point for Basotho today, includes a large part of the present Free State Province of neighbouring South Africa. In 1870, Moshoeshoe I died and was succeeded by his eldest son, Letsie I who was the first Morena e Moholo to be styled Paramount Chief by the British Colonial government.

Paramount Chief Letsie I, 1870-1891

Letsie I reigned at the very difficult time in Lesotho. In 1871, Lesotho, now renamed Basutoland by the colonialists was annexed to the Cape Colony without the consent of Basotho. During this time traditional rule, culture, norms and practices came under serious assault from the Cape colonists. The result was the Gun War of 1880-81 which led to Lesotho being placed under direct British rule in 1884.

Paramount Chief Lerotholi, 1891-1905

During his reign an alternative to the national �pitso� in the form of a National Council which would be composed entirely of chiefs, and would advise Lerotholi on policy matters was formed in 1903. The Council wrote a code of laws and customs of the Basotho which became known as the Laws of Lerotholi. Paramount Chief Lerotholi brought about many improvements in Basutoland. For instance, schools and hospitals were built. In fact, he is the founder of the Lerotholi Technical School (currently known as Lerotholi Polytechnic) which was completed in 1906. After his death in 1905, his son, Letsie II, succeeded him. The death of Lerotholi is regarded as marking the end of a paramountcy which was strong and widely respected.

Paramount Chief Letsie II, 1905-1913

Letsie II reigned from 1905 to 1913. He strongly opposed the incorporation of Lesotho into the Union of South Africa in 1910 and was represented at the founding conference of the South African Native Congress (SANC) in 1912 whereat he was made Honorary President, along with other twenty-two chiefs, of the SANC

Paramount Chief Griffith, 1913-1939

After his death in 1913, Letsie II was succeeded by his brother Griffith who, in turn, reigned until his death in 1939. During Griffith�s reign, the World War I broke out in Europe. Twice during that war Griffith imposed a tax and sent money to England to help in the war effort. He also sent 3 000 Basotho soldiers to serve in France as part of the African forces. In 1933 the Great Drought struck Basutoland and caused terrible famine and destitution. As a result of this drought, the British Government sent Sir Alan Pim to Basutoland to assess the situation and make a report on the conditions in the country. Following this report, Griffith worked with the Resident Commissioner to carry out improvements in health, education and agriculture.

Paramount Chief Seeiso Griffith, 1939-1940

Griffith was succeeded by his son, Seeiso Simeon Griffith Lerotholi who died in 1940 after a short reign. It was during his short reign that, however, that Lesotho, at the instigation of the Paramount himself, donated �100,000 sterling towards the British World War II effort.

Paramount Chieftainess �Mant�ebo Seeiso, 1940-1960

Paramount Chief Seeiso Griffith was succeeded by his widow, Chieftainess Amelia �Mant�ebo Seeiso who ruled the country as a regent for twenty years from 1940 to 1960. It was at this time that new and more coherent nationalist movements emerged and constitutional change and self-determination were out on the table. By 1960 the National Council was composed equally of both chiefs, who were appointed, and members indirectly chosen from the nine District Councils (DCs). DCs had been functioning since 1950 and were composed of chiefs and elected commoners. The DCs were intended to bring government closer to the people. Even more important was the acceptance by the Regent that the monarchy would in future be constitutional.

King Moshoeshoe II, 1960-1996

Chieftainess �Mant�ebo was succeeded by Paramount Chief Constantine Bereng Seeiso who became His Majesty King Moshoeshoe II at Independence in 1966. King Moshoeshoe II was an Oxford graduate in philosophy, politics, economics and law. He was a leader of international standing and a prolific writer. His reign coincided with the apartheid era of South Africa during which he distinguished himself for heroic acts, emulating his Great Grandfather Moshoeshoe I by among others, offering protection for refugees fleeing the apartheid regime. He unfortunately died in a car accident in 1996, but his posthumous Order of the companions of OR Tambo award that was received from President Mbeki in April 2006 spoke volumes about this great African leader who contributed immensely to �the struggle against apartheid through supporting the liberation movement in times of need�.

King Letsie III, 1996-

King Moshoeshoe II was succeeded by his son, Mohato Bereng Seeiso who became His Majesty King Letsie III when he ascended the throne. King Letsie III and his brother, Seeiso Bereng Seeiso, who is the Principal Chief of Matsieng, pioneered the establishment of the Royal Archives, Museum and Information Resource Centre in Matsieng.

Vision

To be a useful resource centre that contributes to Lesotho’s sustainable development through the promotion of her rich royal history and culture.

Mission

Our mission is to preserve systematically and in a usable manner, the pre and post independence Royal Family records as found in Matsieng and other places. We will process, classify, catalogue, index and describe the available collection of the Royal Family archival materials with a view to making them accessible to all beneficiaries in Lesotho and in the Diaspora. Furthermore, we hope to develop means of formally augmenting the present collection with free deposits of copies being generated by relevant sources locally, regionally and internationally. In addition, we will identify, collect, process and make accessible all museum pieces and artefacts having a bearing on the history of the royal family. In the final analysis, doing all the above will create jobs and sustainable incomes for the people of Matsieng and thus add value to the ward-ship of the Royal Village.

The Royal Archives, Museum and Information Centre provides services mainly for:

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  • Basotho people whose culture and history will be preserved for posterity.
  • Learners, scholars, researchers and educationists for various disciplines who will make reference to the rare items of collection that will in return accumulate from user’s reports.
  • The Royal Family in particular whose cultural and historical legacy will be preserved for future generations.
  • Tourists and visitors from within and outside Lesotho who be will attracted to this unique centre clearly on its own merit, but also as part of education on the history of the Basotho monarchy the Royal Village of Matsieng and some heritage sites in the vicinity’
    the word will has been inserted between be and attracted.
  • Local communities through the creation of micro enterprises and reception centres.

We offer the following services:

  • Library loan services of books and records found at the institution.
  • Electronic database navigation.
  • Audio-visual services.
  • Binding, laminating, photocopying and printing services.
  • Temporary exhibitions.
  • Guided tour to places of interest in Matsieng such as: the Royal Palace, ruins of Paramount Chief Letsie I’s settlement, the traditional khotla, dinosuar footprints, houses of the past Paramount Chiefs’ wives, the Royal Cemetery at St. Louis Catholic Church and other historical buildings in Matsieng.

Matsieng Community Empowerment

The Royal Archives and Museum works hand in hand with Matsieng Community in various developmental projects meant to empower residents of Matsieng and surrounding areas. These strategies are planned to empower the community whilst eradicating poverty. Youth empowerment is among key outreach programmes that the Royal Archives and Museum has planned for the future.

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POPULAR NEWS

2020-11-09T14:40:06+00:00

His Majesty’s Birthday

At the event, His Majety King Letsie III was accompanied by Her Majesty Queen ‘Masenate Mohato Seeiso and their chidren; princesses Senate and Maseeiso and Prince Lerotholi who were also clad in black and gold attire. This year King's birthday was in the usual manner due to covid-19 pandemic

2020-11-09T15:03:13+00:00

Her Majesty’s Birthday

The Board of Trustees and staff of Royal Archives and Museum celebrates with Her Majesty on her 38th birthday and would like to wish Her Majesty Queen 'Masenate Mohato Seeiso a blessed birthday and that the Lord bless her with many more years to come.

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