From Leonard Thompson’s A History of South Africa, a great quote on the country. Thompson discusses the chiefdoms that began in the third or fourth century A.D., spurred by the arrival of mixed farmers. Chiefdoms were generally cohesive groups, and chiefs had sweeping authority, but as Thompson notes, “A chief’s powers were limited by necessity as well as by custom. He had no standing army, no police force, no jail.”
He goes on to write:
The Basotho had two saying that summed up the underlying tension: “Morena ha a fose” (The chief can do no wrong) and “Morena ke batho” (No people, no chief).