Thursday, July 22, 2010

Botswana denies Bushmen land rights

I received an email from Survival International, an organization supporting indigenous and tribal peoples worldwide, that called my attention to the violation of indigenous land rights of the Bushmen - a group of indigenous people in the southern African country of Botswana. Prior to receiving the email, perhaps like you - I knew nothing about a gross injustice faced by the Bushmen in Botswana. As I read the email, questions lingered in my mind - who are the Bushman? Why does the government of Botswana violate their land rights?

According to Survival International, the Bushmen are the original inhabitants of Southern Africa, and they have lived in the region for thousands of years. There are only about 100,000 Bushmen in Botswana, South Africa, Angola and Namibia.

Why does the government violate the land rights of Bushmen?

In Botswana, the ancestral land and home of the Bushmen is in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. The government of Botswana discovered diamonds in the reserve in the 1980s and started evicting the inhabitants from their ancestral home, in order to open a diamond mine on the land. By 2005, all the Bushmen had been evicted - their homes, schools and water sources destroyed. The Bushmen were taken to camps outside the reserve and were prohibited from hunting - their main source of livelihood.

The following short video clip better explains the plight of the Bushmen in Botswana and their battle for survival in a country they call home. WATCH

This is a clear case of conflict between business and human rights!

Where do we draw the line between the quest for wealth and profit, and violation of the basic rights of a people? The government of Botswana has shamelessly picked business over human rights.

Irrespective of whether you favor human rights over business or not - the Bushmen have the right to live in their ancestral land - which happens to be rich in diamond.

If you ask me - the government of Botswana should grant the Bushmen within its jurisdiction access to their ancestral land and reinstate their right to live and hunt on their land - in accordance with their culture. The government should grant the Bushmen immediate access to water and other basic neccessities, as well as ensure that they enjoy all constitutional rights guaranteed to every Botswanan. All Bushmen arrested for hunting to feed their families should be released unconditionally.

On 27 May 2010, Survival International reported that trucks carrying soldiers and policemen entered the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. It is believed that the aim of the "invasion" is to intimidate the Bushmen and evict them from their ancestral land.

Many Bushmen are still prohibited from returning to the reserve and there is currently a ban on the use of a borehole (well) that supplies water to the Bushmen in the reserve. Survival International points out that the ban is a calculated attempt by the government to stop the Bushmen from returning to their land.

You can help the Bushmen keep their land. Please take action, here or email Botswana's President - Ian Khama at - to push for the rights of the Bushmen.

*Photos by CharlesFred

1 comment:

  1. yah m rily frastrated with the government decision to move the indigenous people from their land, first of all they are part of us and they are entitled to their rights. i dont know how the president will feel if a group of batswana came in to his home and decided to evacuate him just because a so called valuable resource has bin found, and even so cut off his survival techniques, in this case will be to coup him. this will be inhuman. you cannot choose resources over humans, after all are the president of humans or resources? certainly i think the president of the people, so resources should not be a pushing effect. infact there should not be any push effect. when you look at the way botswana operates also compared to other developed countries, our ways are indigenous so we cannot justify the bushmen'"s primitivity, after all its what they want so let us not try and change them. only this will make matters worse. so iam encouraging all responsible organisation, departments to consider this issue as a human right violation. the resources mined in there should benefit the bushmen not some selfish part of the population. we need learders who are more receptive and who are driven by a passion to make all equal despite their backgrounds or whatever.keletso(sociologist)


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