The Basotho Origin of Mathematics – A Public Lecture

By Zulumathabo

This public lecture was delivered at the Central University of Technology on June 12, 2014.


The popular myth in South Africa is that the African natives were devoid of mathematical knowledge until the advent of Europeans. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Basotho, like other Africans, boasted an incredible mathematical lexicon long before the advent of the Europeans. The Basotho have used mathematics in order to count, estimate, measure, philosophize, solve and model, among others. In this public lecture we show an African origin of mathematics among the Basotho as confirmed by the ambitious book project Sesotho Dictionary of Mathematics.

The Cosmic Knowledge

The Basotho trace their genesis to the cosmos. They believe that their ancestors originate from the heavens. The idea of tracing their genesis to the heavens is not exclusive to the Basotho. The Zulu people also trace their genesis to the heavens. As a matter of fact, the name Zulu means “the people of the heavens”. In Northern Botswana where I lived in exile in the ANC camp of Dukwe, the dominant ethnic group the Makhalanga “meaning the people of the sun” also trace their genesis to the cosmos. In my family background on the mother’s side, we are the Mlangenis. Mlangeni means “those of the sun”.

As a result of their cosmic genesis, the Basotho possess a cosmic knowledge that allows them to be guided by the heavens. They refer to stellar bodies as the stars as opposed to the Europeans who distinguish among planets, stars, meteors and so forth. The stars and the moon guide the calendar of the Basotho. Unlike the colonial calendar which we are currently using in South Africa which begins in January and ends in December, the Basotho calendar begins in Phato (August) and ends in Phupu (July). A very important star system known as Selemela determines their agricultural activities. They look to Selemela to determine the kinds of crops they will be planting. Selemela also ushers the New Year of Phato in the Basotho calendar.

Selemela is a cluster of stars. There are seven stars but from the earth one can see six stars. The number seven is one of the sacred numbers among the Basotho and part of the reason has to do with the Selemela. This star does have an influence on the Basotho architecture as well as their mathematical knowledge. Other important stars include Mphatlalatsane, Sefalabohoho, Tosamasiu, Tosa, among others. It is noteworthy, that Tosa (Jupiter) is one of the celebrated star systems. The axiom “Hobona tosa le madinyana a yona” means, “To see Jupiter along with its youngs”. The youngs refer to the moons of Jupiter. These moons are not visible to the naked eye and some of the moons are literally baby moons. How do the Basotho know about the baby moons of Jupiter without using a technological instrument of any kind? This is yet another confirmation that they possess cosmic knowledge and do not need telescopes or any technological instrument to know of the cosmos because this knowledge is in their blood. The mystery does not end here. They also pay tribute to another star Makgakga which is not visible to a naked eye. How is that possible without a telescope?

As a result of their cosmic genesis, the Basotho possess a cosmic knowledge which was passed down from their ancient ancestors and this knowledge passes from generation to generation using oral tradition, Ditema writing system and the artifacts that possess the ancestral messages of long ago.

The Table of Contents


To get the entire lecture, please contact the author in the following address:



20 thoughts on “The Basotho Origin of Mathematics – A Public Lecture

  1. kindly share the wisdom with me.I am very much interested in knowing about th cosmic spheres and their influence in our daily African lives



    1. Morena Motseoeme Taunyana. Relebohela thaasello ditabeng tsena tsa bohlokwa; eleng ditaba tsa bonkgono le bontate moholo. Hajwale bophelo habohantle haholo lehongola mona keya qobella. Etlare hake le hantle ketla kgutlela maqepheng hofana ka karabo etomanyana. Hajwale, ke re lekola mahodimo ka dinako tsa phirimana. Otla bona dinaledi tse pedi engwe ka hodimo engwe ka tlase. Ke Sefalabohoho (Venus) le Tosa (Jupiter). Dine dilatelane haufi haholo mafelong a Phupjane. Jwalo diya arohana. Hore dibe haufi hakana ke mohlolo hobane hoetsahala ka mora dilemo tsengata. Dinaledi tsena diama haholo tsela yeo reneng rephela ka yona mehleng ya kgale. Retla boela rebuwa hape ka ditaba tsena mohlomphehi.


      1. Ke itumella gore a bo o mphetotse Morena oaka. Ke di bone dinaledi tseo,ka leka go botsa batho ba ga rona gore di raya eng ha di ntse yaana,ka tlhoka di kata bo. Mme ke kopa o ntlhatlhelle thata ka Selemela-ke rata thata go itse ka tsone(e bile ke batla go bitsa ngwanake ka tsone) Di tswa leng?ha re di bona di kaya eng mo matshelong a rona a se Aforika,yalo yalo.

        Modimo aa go sireletse,e bile a go segohatse.


    1. Rethabela tse tswang howena. Reboke dikakapa tse kgolo eleng baholo le bongono ka hore susumetsa ka mesebetsi ena ekgabane hape baetsa hore mesebetsi ena ephethahale. Ke sepheyo saka hore maqephe ana angolwe le hofetolelwa ka puwo ya rona ya Sesotho. Hoo rehohlokang ke tsheetso hobohle hore kariki ena ena ehatelepele. Hajwale renale phephetso ya hore tsiye ena efofa esena moswang jwalo hoo hodiehisa merero ya fetolelo feela retla leka ka bohohle hophethahatsa. Reyaleboha tsibisa babangata ka holetsa phala ka moo hore Lekotswana la Afrika Borwa letshwere ka thata hongola maqephe atlang ho tiiasa thari entsho. Hajwale thari ena eya kgwehla.


      1. I am a black American, I was taken from Africa long ago….I would love for a copy of your book. My email address is hidden to protect against spammers.


      2. Dear beautiful Amun,

        Your communication is appreciated. Thokoza Makhosi! We receive you with great and one love. Thokoza Makhosi! Your people are the sons and daughters of the African soil and we fully embrace them as our own and this shall always be; forever and ever! We love them; they shall shall forever be cherished by us. As a writer of this message, we hold you in high esteem. We want you to know that the great motherland Africa extends her warmth, endless love and spiritual energy to you and your people.

        The African motherland is calling for her members of the African clan across the globe to come together as one. Wherever you are, we hear you, feel your pain and always calling upon the African spirits to watch over you; walk besides you; strengthen your wings and sharpen your beak so that you can fearlessly stand your ground as the proud, beautiful and indomitable sons and daughters of the African motherland.

        I shall communicate with you regarding my book The Sacred Knowledge of the Desert.

        Please spread our message over there. Ask your brothers and sisters to support us. Our internet infrastructure is fragile and sometimes I am not able to timely update these sacred pages of the ancestors. The ancestral message, however, shall never be suppressed. Expect more powerful messages of the ancestors from these pages.

        Thokosa Makhosi!
        Zulumathabo Zulu


    1. Dumela Tshepo.

      Mmoho le bohle bajwentshang thaasello ematla hodingolwa tsena tse hlahlwa. The Basotho Origins of Mathematics was printed in a booklet. This booklet is highly in demand. We are currently out of stock and await a shipment which has delayed. As soon as we have this, we shall publish on this blog.

      Thank you for your interest and please tell more about this powerful blog of Zulumathabo on the Internet 2.0



  2. This is very informative. I would like to have a copy of this booklet “the Basotho origins of mathematics”…..

    Siphesihle Ntshangase


  3. I listened to interview on 702 and that’s the most enthralling and eye opening interview I’ve heard. I HAVE to get this book. Wow! Thanks Zulumathabo


  4. Dear Mr Zulu,

    It would be a greater pleasure to receive this informative public lectureand/or the booklet.I hope it can help us deconstruct the misconceptions about the subjects especially in the wake of growing decolonisation calls we have just seen.


    Lekoa Lekoko


  5. I am a keen follower of your scripts and writings. I have intimate interest in the history ya Basotho and Africa
    You are my inspiration
    I have few questions:
    1. I wish to learn more about this booklet “Basotho origin of Mathematics including cosmic and morabaraba
    2. If Basotho were observing dikhoedi tsa selemo based on moon, why do seem to have 12months instead of 13moons? I believe there are almost 13 moon phases in a year and Basotho New Year does not necessarily coincide with 01 August (Phato)
    3. Where does your passion about Basotho come from?
    4. Is it true that the Bantu come from far north, Nubia Kingdom? If so, how did migration happen and why Nguni and Soho groups differ so much?
    Kinds Regards
    Montso Lebitsa


    1. Your interest is appreciated! You need to download the Madisebo University Handbook here:

      Yes there are 13 months i Basotho calendar. You need to take courses with out institution Madisebo University, refer to the handbook.
      My passio for Basotho origin of knowing ensues from the fact that ke rongwe ke bonkgono ba Basotho hotlisa lesedi lena sechabeng hape ke Ngaka ya Mosotho ya thwasitseng metsing a dikwetsa tsa Mohokare.

      Rengolle kapa reletsetse 010 003 7769.
      Thokoza Makhosi!


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