The Southern African nation of Lesotho is celebrating its 53rd independence anniversary to mark its freedom from British Colonial rule. The territory was first invaded by the Voortrekkers-Dutch Colonists-in 1836 and later declared a separate republic for the Dutch in 1843.

Subsequently, a series of protracted wars were fought between the Dutch settlers and the native baSothos over the territory. These wars eroded Basotho land holdings in what was to become the Orange Free State.

To fend off the continuous Dutch incursions, King Moshoeshoe solicited the help of the British. On March 12, 1868, the newly-appointed Governor of the Cape, Sir Philip Wodehouse, issued a proclamation declaring Basutoland a British Protectorate. It was later annexed into the Cape Colony in 1871.

In 1959, Basutoland became a separate British colony and was called the Territory of Basutoland. The colony gained its full independence from the British on October 4, 1966 and took on Lesotho (Land of the people who speak Sesotho) as the new name with Jonathan Leabua as the first Prime Minister.

The country is completely surrounded by South Africa, and has a population of 2 million and runs a parliamentary/constitutional monarchy with the prime minister being the head of government.

Lesotho depends on a narrow economic base of textile manufacturing, agriculture and relies heavily on South Africa for much of its economic activity.

In commemorating the day, Basothos from every district dress in the colors of their district and clad mostly in blankets, perform traditional songs and dances throughout the day while the government stages independence parades.