A South African king will give Wittenberg’s commencement address this weekend: 3 things to know

Prince Harry makes a courtesy call on King Letsie III at the King’s palace as he begins his visit to the region where he will name two buildings at the heart of his charity’s new landmark centre on November 26, 2015 in Maeru, Lesotho, Sentebale. Lesotho’s Prince Seeiso co-founded Sentebale with Harry in 2006, and the new facility is named after his mother Queen Mamohato but also recognises the Princess of Wales. (Photo by Chris Radburn-Pool/Getty Images)
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Prince Harry makes a courtesy call on King Letsie III at the King’s palace as he begins his visit to the region where he will name two buildings at the heart of his charity’s new landmark centre on November 26, 2015 in Maeru, Lesotho, Sentebale. Lesotho’s Prince Seeiso co-founded Sentebale with Harry in 2006, and the new facility is named after his mother Queen Mamohato but also recognises the Princess of Wales. (Photo by Chris Radburn-Pool/Getty Images)

Wittenberg University will host the king of South African country Lesotho this Saturday during the school’s 2018 commencement.

Here are three things to know about the king, his country and why he is coming to Springfield.

READ: A South African king will be visiting Springfield this week. Here’s why.

1. The king

King Letsie III, the Constitutional Monarch of the southern African Kingdom of Lesotho, will come to Springfield. The king will arrive on Friday along with several other dignitaries including his wife, Queen ‘Masenate, and Lesotho’s foreign minister, ambassador to the United States and archbishop.

2. Lesotho

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The country has a population of just over 2 million people and is landlocked and mountainous. The country’s lowest point is higher than that of any other country in the world.

Lesotho is one of the world’s poorest countries and also faces one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDs. Those factors, combined with poor soil and climatic conditions, make malnutrition, especially among children, a primary issue. In 2013, the country’s government announced that more half a million children in Lesotho suffered from malnutrition.

3. Wittenberg and Springfield connection

The country’s struggles are a primary reason why the school and community connected with the king.

Since 2003, about 400 Wittenberg students have traveled to Lesotho through 14 different service trips, and many more have participated in the Lesotho Nutrition Initiative, a student-led nonprofit that sends meals to children in Lesotho.

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Scott Rosenberg, a history professor at Wittenberg, estimates that the Lesotho Nutrition Initiative has packed about 650,000 meals since it was founded three years ago.

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