Institutions of Government and Control of Power

  • L. B. B. J. Machobane

Abstract

The process of state formation among the Basotho of the Mohokare Valley (the Caledon) in Southern Africa was a slow, unpredictable and, in the end, a jolting experience. Up through the seventeenth century the south and south-westerly migrations of the Basotho and other southern ‘Bantu’ (Abantu) language communities from the north of the River Lekoa (the Vaal)1 did not render that process possible. Although in the eighteenth century these communities were more or less settled and a strong economic base of mixed farming was giving rise to an increasingly complex division of labour, their fissiparous nature, itself encouraged by the abundance of land still under the less restrictive political right of ‘the sphere of influence’, inhibited the development of nationhood and the establishment of territorial sovereignty. ‘The tribe’, J. D. Omer-Cooper states, ‘the unit of political life, though larger than that of the Hottentots, still usually consisted of only a few thousand members. From other points of view, however, it had developed beyond the state of a kinship group and must be regarded as a simple type of state.’2

Keywords

Fatigue Migration Corn Assure Stratification 

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Notes

  1. 2.
    J. D. Omer-Cooper, The Zulu Aftermath: A Nineteenth-Century Revolution in Bantu Africa (Essex, 1966 ) p. 15.Google Scholar
  2. Omer-Cooper acknowledges his dependence on I. Schapera, Government and Politics in Tribal Societies (London, 1956, reprint, 1963 ).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    T. Arbousset, Narrative of an Exploratory Tour to the North-East of the Colony of the Cape of Good Hope (Cape Town, 1846) p. 401.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
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    See in particular the following two works as proof of the existence of Basotho customary law: Poulter, Sebastian, Family Law and Litigation (Oxford, 1976 ).Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© L. B. B. J. Machobane 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. B. B. J. Machobane
    • 1
  1. 1.MaseruLesotho

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