Monday, November 15, 2010

Minister Says Bushmen Live in 'Dark Ages'

by Niren Tolsi
Mail & Guardian
November 12, 2010

Kitso Mokaila
Botswana's minister for environment, wildlife and tourism, Kitso Mokaila, stoked the growing controversy around his government's treatment of Bushmen living in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve by telling the BBC that Bushmen are "living in the Dark Ages in the middle of nowhere". 

Mokaila's remark prompted a sharp counterblast from indigenous rights group Survival International.

"Mokaila's remarks are the latest in a long line of insults by government officials and are an indication of the deep-rooted racism towards the Bushmen," said the director of Survival International, Steven Corry.

Corry's statement follows Survival's launch of an international boycott of Botswana's tourist and diamond industries and of tourism company Wilderness Safari group, which has lodges in the reserve.

Celebrities -- including actresses Sophie Okonedo and Joanna Lumley -- have publicly pledged their support.

Corry told the Mail & Guardian Botswana has been on a "concerted drive" to remove the Bushmen from the reserve as it attempts to grow tourism and diamond mining in the area.

'Strangled out'
"Since 2002 the Bushmen have been refused access to boreholes, while animals and tourists are allowed water, and they are not allowed to hunt or keep animals.

"New boreholes for animals have been drilled by [jewellery chain] Tiffany but the Bushmen are not allowed access. The government is strangling them out," said Corry.

The reserve is thought to have one of the largest diamond deposits in the world. According to Survival, the Botswana government denied that there were diamond deposits in the area before the eviction of Bushmen in 2002.

Read the rest here.

Comment: It is an absolute tragedy what Botswana is doing, and has done, to the San/Basarwa (Bushmen) people.  This round of insult adds to decades of discrimination that has removed the indigenous San/Basarwa from their ancestral land.

Botswana is not alone.  Namibia, South Africa, Angola, and Zimbabwe are guilty of doing much the same.

The insult that Survival is a "neo-apartheid" organization as alledged in the above article is just a smoke-screen to hide the fact that Botswana wants to permanently remove the San/Basarwa from their land (the Central Kalahari Game Reserve).

So much for the post-colonial era.  Botswana is the 'new' colonizer with the help of De Beers and adventure outfits like Wilderness Safari who cater to western tourists.

Sign the Survival petition urging Wilderness Safaris to take their game lodge off Bushman land.

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