Morija

In addition to hiking trails, dinosaur footprints and pony trekking, visitors should not miss out on other opportunities to explore Lesotho’s Well-Spring of Learning.

Take a guided tour of Morija and learn more about its interesting history.

Did you know that Morija is known locally as “The Well-Spring of Learning” (Selibeng sa Thuto) because it was the first centre of missionary activity in Lesotho starting from 1833? King Moshoeshoe, the founder of Lesotho, was seeking at that time to attract ‘teachers of peace’ to join him in his work of nation-building. Three young French Protestant missionaries (Casalis, Arbousset and Gosselin) answered his call soon thereafter, and a fruitful partnership was formed, out of which flowed many benefits, including literacy work, printing and publishing, and the development of a modern educated class of leaders that gradually radiated out from Morija to all parts of Lesotho, as well as many parts on Southern Africa as far as Zambia.

One of the outstanding products of Morija was Thomas Mofolo, who was the first African ever to write a novel, which was called Moeti oa Bochabela (The Traveller to the East). It was published in 1907. Another product was EJ Moerane, a teacher from near-by Masite who trained at Morija and then settled in Griqualand East (Paballong) in the 1890s. He raised up a large family, including sons who became famous mathematicians, musicians and newspaper editors, as well as a daughter Epainette, his youngest, who married Govan Mbeki and is the mother of the former President of South Africa Thabo Mbeki. A third was J.P. Mohapeloa, who from the 1930s began composing music while employed at Morija Printing Works. Over the next 50 years, he became Lesotho’s greatest composer and his music is still popular across the entire sub-continent.

Here is a list of other activities to do in the Morija area (either alone or with a guide):

  • Tour of the excellent exhibits and collections at Morija Museum & Archives where you will discover some of Lesotho’s finest cultural and historical treasures, with many books and other articles for sale.
  • Maeder House Art and Crafts Centre: For the best local painting and ceramics in Lesotho, visit Maeder House and tour Linotšing Studios where the ceramics are produced. Many activities are held throughout the year – special exhibitions and workshops – and you are welcome to join in!
  • Unique and varied styles of architecture in Morija, starting at Chief Ranthomeng’s homestead where five generations of architecture stand side by side. His ancestor, Paulus Matete, was King Moshoeshoe’s brother-in-law and he was placed here to look after the missionaries. Other architectural styles can be found throughout the village as well. Then take a walk through the mission itself, where Maeder House (1843) and the historic Church (1847-1857) are located, as well as the house where the missionary Eduoard Jacottet was poisoned in 1920 (as portrayed in the well-written book Murder at Morija, by Tim Couzens).
  • Bird watching: More than 60 species of birds have been sighted in Morija. How many can you identify?
  • Dinosaur Footprints: Take a 30 minutes hike to the dinosaur footprints on the side of Makhoarane Mountain, above the large reservoir, and enjoy the spectacular view!
  • Rock art at Phahameng: A small rock art site is located a few kilometers to the east of Morija, just below the main road – you will need a guide.
  • Off-road biking: Take your off-road bicycle and explore the outlying areas and villages around Morija.
  • Village live-in: For those wanting to get a greater feeling for the people and culture, you may want to take advantage of a night in a village on top of the Makhoarane plateau. Please enquire from us.
  • Historic graves: See the graves of Casalis’ wife Sarah, Arbousset’s children, great missionaries like Adolphe Mabille and Eduoard Jacottet, the renowned evangelist Asser Sehahabane, the composer J.P. Mohapeloa, graves of some of the royal family, and more.
  • Matsieng, the Royal Village, only 6 km away, including the new Royal Archives and Museum.
  • Morija Arts & Cultural Festival: Annual activity that brings some of Lesotho’s finest artists, performers and cultural groups for a varied programme of activities during late September/early October. See its website for up-to-date information (www.morija.co.ls). The Friends of Morija Museum also organise a calendar of activities each year. Please consult Morija Museum for activities that might fall during your stay in Lesotho (+266 2236-0308).

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