The government of Botswana is carrying out a blatant campaign of ethnic cleansing against the San, also known as the Bushman people, one of Africa’s oldest ethnic groups, whose habitat is being destroyed systematically by diamond prospectors.
Kukama, once a thriving settlement with thousands of hunter-gatherer inhabitants, is reduced to two old ladies and a few children. It is on the southern edge of the Kalahari Game Res4erve, set up originally for Botswana’s wild animals and the Bushman people, one of Africa’s oldest ethnic groups, who have inhabited the area for some 35,000 years..
First Bantu African tribes and later white settlers tried to dislodge these slightly-built but resilient people, but to no avail. Some 100,000 Bushmen resist between Namibia and Botswana, but are today herded into reserves, in which alcoholism has destroyed the social fabric of many family clans.
Now even the remaining Bushmen are prey to yet another wave of greed, under the pretext that the children must be educated and given access to western-style healthcare programmes. At the same time, shady businessmen move in to the area waving documents which they claim gives them the right to exploit tourist resorts and diamond mining activities.
75 m. USD has already been spent on exploratory drilling in an area around Gope and there are rumours that the attempt to move the Bushmen in the name of education and healthcare is simply a ruse to commit a policy of ethnic cleansing, clearing them out of the way as the millions pour in to the coffers of local and government officials in Gaborone.
The San have their own pressure group which is contesting a publicity campaign in Gaborone, which depicts happy, smiling San faces and poses the question: “Do these people look like they have been abused?”
Roy Sesana, an activist of the group First people of the Kalahari, claims that “When a people are moved, their culture is eroded” and he has taken the cause to the London-based human rights group, survival international, whose director, Steven Curry, stated that “While it is true the traditional hunter-gatherer way of life for the Bushman is no longer widely practised, the point is that in the reserve the Bushmen are the most self-sufficient of any in the region”.
Given that they were there first, they should have the right to their traditional way of life and foreign prospectors should respect the notion that local populations, nowadays, have the right to control local resources.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru
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