Commerce as Politics

Commerce as Politics

The Two Centuries of Struggle for Basotho Economic Independence

Sean M. Maliehe


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This is the first comprehensive economic history of the Basotho people of Southern Africa (in colonial Basutoland, then Lesotho) and spans from the 1820s to the present day. The book documents what the Basotho have done on their own account, focusing on their systematic exclusion from trade and their political efforts to insert themselves into their country’s commerce. Although the colonial and post-colonial periods were unfavourable to the Basotho, they have, before and after colonial rule, launched impressive commercial initiatives of their own, which bring hope for greater development and freedom in their struggle for economic independence.


Sean M. Maliehe:

Sean M. Maliehe is an economic historian and ethnographer of commerce, money and mobile phones in Lesotho and South Africa (Diepsloot). He has held two postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Pretoria: Human Economy Programme, Centre for Advancement of Scholarship (2016-2018) and Department of Historical and Heritage Studies (2019-2020).