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Africa Travel Magazine Online

Lesoto- Kingdom in the Sky
Lethoto_ Morija Arts

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Burkina Faso
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Washington, D.C.: Venue International Professionals, Inc. (VIP) is pleased to announce that the Seventh Annual Morija Arts & Cultural Festival will be held in Morija, Lesotho from September 29th through October 2nd, 2005. The Morija Arts & Cultural Festival provides an annual showcase for the arts and culture of Basotho, as well as those of neighboring peoples in southern Africa. Started in 1999 in order to revive and strengthen Sotho culture and unity, the four-day program will be packed with a myriad of exciting shows and activities depicting the great diversity of Sesotho culture, from the most traditional to the most modern. The Morija Arts & Cultural Festival brings together hundreds of performers from across southern Africa to celebrate a common unity in diversity. From the rural hinterland of Lesotho to the metropolis of Johannesburg come a wide variety of performers, both professional and amateur, in music, dance, praise poetry, and theater. In addition to the music, dance and other artistic performances there will be plenty of foods, handicrafts, fashions and children's activities as well as educational displays. Cultural groups from the Free State and Gauteng provinces of South Africa as well as Zambia, China, India and France have contributed significantly to the success of previous festivals. For more information about the Morija Arts & Cultural Festival please visit their website at

The Morija Arts & Cultural Festival, held at the small picturesque town of Morija which is located approximately 45 km south of Maseru, Lesotho's capital, is intended to bring Basotho together, promote a positive and progressive sense of national pride, as well as encourage small business and tourism in Lesotho. Founded in 1833, Morija is renowned for the important role it has played in the history of Lesotho, especially in literacy, leadership development and creativity. As a result, Morija is known locally as the "Well-Spring of Learning" (Selibeng sa Thuto). In 1999 King Letsie III of Lesotho officially declared, during the inaugural Morija Arts & Cultural Festival, that henceforth, Morija would also be known as the "Fountain of Culture". While in Morija, you can also visit the Morija Museum and Archives to learn more about the history and culture of Basotho, take a hike to see dinosaur footprints, or take a short pony trek through the scenic mountains. Accommodations will be available with many Morija families and at various guest houses, bed and breakfast establishments and standard hotels throughout Lesotho. For more information about transportation and lodging accommodations please visit the Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC) website at

As an aside, Venue International Professionals, Inc. (VIP) recently participated in a Familiarization (FAM) Tour of Lesotho during the month of May 2005 with a particular focus on learning more about the Morija Arts & Cultural Festival. As a result, plans are being undertaken to bring a delegation of church choir directors and ministers of music to the 2005 event in order to discuss official invitations to have American choirs participate in the 2006 event. In addition, there are ongoing discussions about conducting a small business trade mission to Lesotho to coincide with the scheduled 2006 Morija Arts and Cultural Festival.

The small mountainous Kingdom of Lesotho, roughly the size of the State of Maryland in the United States with a population of about 2.1 million, is entirely surrounded by South Africa and its terrain has been likened to Switzerland. Lesotho, affectionately known as the "Mountain Kingdom in the Sky", has one of Africa's most homogeneous populations, consisting almost exclusively of Basotho with English and Sesotho as the official languages. In the 19th century, King Moshoeshoe I brought together a number of splinter groups in this mountainous stronghold, giving birth to the Basotho nation. It was in reality a kingdom made up of refugees from the fierce tribal wars in neighboring regions. Through smart military and diplomatic strategies King Moshoeshoe I managed to keep his enemies at bay until challenged by the Boers who had established their own Orange Free State Republic alongside the kingdom and then started making territorial claims. War ensued and fearing the entire loss of the kingdom's territory, Lesotho became a British Protectorate in 1884 until it regained its independence on October 4, 1966. Today, Lesotho is a constitutional monarchy with King Letsie III as the Head of State and real authority vested in the Prime Minister of the majority political party. Currently, the Honorable Pakalitha Mosisili is the Prime Minister (2002) under the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD).

Lesotho traditionally depended on job opportunities from South African gold mines while the remainder of its economy is dependent upon agriculture which largely consists of subsistence farming. Lesotho has recently made considerable gains in expanding its economic base into manufacturing through its participation in the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) with a particular emphasis on the textile and footwear industry based on duty-free privileges. Lesotho's single most important economic asset is the $5 billion Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) which supplies fresh water to neighboring South Africa. Tourism is also fast becoming a growing sector with an emphasis on both domestic and regional tourism initiatives. With the re-emergence of the Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC) there will be further diversification of tourism products and services, in particular with the help of foreign investments. Continuing privatization provides for encouraging business opportunities and the travel and tourism industry is well-positioned to take advantage of this.

Venue International Professionals, Inc. (VIP) is an African-American owned, full-service travel and tourism company based in the Washington Metropolitan Area specializing in travel and tourism destinations to the Continent of Africa. For more information about VIP or to discuss travel and tour arrangements for the upcoming 2005 Morija Arts & Cultural Festival, please contact Helen C. Broadus, President of VIP at 1-877-TO-VENUE [TOLL FREE]; (301) 856-9188 [VOICE]; (301) 868-2218 [FAX]; [E-MAIL]; and also visit VIP's website at