When King Moshoeshoe invited the first missionaries to his mountain fortress at Thaba Bosiu in 1833, he gave them freedom to explore the surroundings to find a place they could call home. The three Frenchmen scoured the hills and valleys for an ideal spot for their mission: after days of search, they discovered a north-facing hill with tree-covered slopes, a gurgling stream and an immense plateau above it. The soils were rich and the birds were abundant; they had found what they wanted. Moshoeshoe blessed their choice and sent senior relatives to offer protection.
Named after the biblical Mt. Moriah, Morija has maintained the magic that first attracted the missionaries. It is the only forested village in Lesotho, with every road lined with trees, some of which date back almost two centuries. Hidden between the trees is the historic ‘mother church’, as well as the schools, the printing works, the hospital, the museum and other institutions established by the missionaries. Around this old but ever-evolving mission are the homes of some 700 families who live in harmony with their natural surroundings, raising animals, growing crops and finding creative and dynamic ways to get by. Morija has been hosting an annual Arts and Cultural Festival since 1999, the largest cultural festival in Lesotho. The Morija Museum is the only one in the country and, just below the church, an art gallery and a pottery studio add to its cultural appeal. See also www.morija.co.ls.