Bizarre Borders -South Africa and Lesotho 

Samanyu Ram

February 24, 2023

South Africa and Lesotho are two countries located in the southernmost part of Africa. The two countries have a combined area of around 500,000 square kilometers, but one has 15 times the area of the other. South Africa's borders fully encompass the small country of Lesotho. How did this puzzling and bizarre situation occur?

Lesotho was once a Dutch colony home to the Basuto people. Due to the colonial era of Europe, the land around Lesotho, South Africa, was traded ownership numerous times. When Napoleon conquered The Netherlands, he took their colonies as well. Then, when he fell, the British took over South Africa and drove the thousands of Dutch settlers North. They settled directly beside the land of the Basuto people, leading to constant warfare as the expansion of the Dutch was inevitable. Then, the king of the Basuto people came to the British, asking for assistance in defending their homeland. Basuto was then kept as a British territory instead of an independent one and only gained independence in 1966 when the British colonial empire disbanded. Lesotho remained an independent country though they were surrounded by the almighty and powerful South Africa. But if South Africa were to invade Lesotho, the UN would defend it fiercely. 

In 1652, the Dutch settled in South Africa and named it the Cape Colony, because of its location on the Cape of Good Hope. To keep the colony running smoothly, the Dutch imported Muslim slaves from the Indian Subcontinent. Everything changed when the British came and conquered. They abolished slavery and established harsh tax collection systems. Fast forward 300 years, and in 1961, South Africa finally gained independence. Although the country flourished, the problem of blatant discrimination plagued the nation. The Afrikaner Nationalist Party ruled the country through harsh, ideological white supremacist policies. The segregation was much like it was in the U.S. The continuous teaching of black inferiority in schools brainwashed the children of South Africa. The color of one's skin was a deciding factor in many jobs and opportunities. Black people had their own schools, neighborhoods, and even flights of stairs. The racism continued for many decades, and even to this day, the separation of skin colors is an unfortunate reality.

South Africa and Lesotho are currently on good terms. It continues to supply Lesotho with clean water as the country is in dire need. South Africa has even gone as far as providing stability efforts toward its neighbor's political scene.