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Thread: Law erases Bushmen's rights to Kalahari

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    Post Law erases Bushmen's rights to Kalahari

    Law erases Bushmen's rights to Kalahari

    (Fred Bridgland)

    In a Machiavellian move that would have been denounced as racist if ever introduced by one of Africa's former colonial powers, the Botswanan Government is about to enact a constitutional change that will end forever the rights of Bushmen to their traditional lands.

    The cynical move by Botswana's President Festus Mogae has been made as Kalahari Bushmen pursue a landmark case in the country's High Court seeking the right of return to their ancestral land in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.

    The reserve, the size of Switzerland, was the last part of southern Africa where the Bushmen had land rights where they could live according to their own time-honoured culture. The Bushmen were the original inhabitants of the region thousands of years before black tribes arrived from the north and white men from Europe.

    Botswana's former British colonial rulers gave the reserve, a vast expanse of hot sand and bush without permanent surface water, to the Gana and Gwi Bushmen, as a place where they could live alongside the Kalahari's abundant wildlife. The first president of Botswana, Sir Seretse Khama, reaffirmed the commitment at independence in 1961. Under the Bushmen, who hunted only for the pot and offered prayers of thanks to each animal they killed, the Kalahari lion prides and gemsbok and springbok herds multiplied.

    But in 1997, as international mining companies began discovering diamond-bearing kimberlite pipes beneath the reserve's burning sands, Government officials from the majority Tswana tribe swept into their settlements in truck convoys and forcibly removed 1200 people. They dumped the people on a bleak, dusty plain beyond the reserve.

    The forcible removals were in breach of the Bushmen's guaranteed constitutional rights and were accompanied by widespread allegations of torture.

    Successive waves of expulsions followed until all 2500 surviving Bushmen had been removed from the reserve to desolate settlements where they are unable to hunt and where there is no work. Alcoholism, prostitution and sexually transmitted diseases are rife.

    In 1997 mining companies discovered diamond-bearing kimberlite pipes beneath the reserve's burning sands.
    The Bushmen decided to fight back in 2002 with support from local and international human rights organisations. They launched a lawsuit in Botswana's High Court asserting their rights under the constitution to return to their ancestral home.

    Lawyers argued on behalf of the Bushmen that they were being persecuted by the Tswana majority in the same way as Australia's Aborigines had been treated by white settlers. "There are fewer and fewer sites in the world where the people inhabiting them have links going back tens of thousands of years," said Roger Chennells, one of the lawyers.

    The Government has dragged out the court case in an apparent attempt to break the finances and the morale of the Bushmen. At the end of last year the Bushmen resumed their challenge after a three-month postponement because they had run out of money and had to send envoys around the world to raise funds.

    Then last month came a devastating blow to the Bushmen. The Government introduced legislation in Parliament in Gaborone, the Botswanan capital, to amend the constitution to remove any of the lingering rights to the reserve.

    President Mogae has little sympathy for the Bushmen. He uses a derogatory Tswana word, Basarwa, meaning "people with no cattle" (as opposed to the cattle-owning Tswana), to describe the hunter-gathering Bushmen.

    The Government amendment has already had two readings. When it obtains its third reading soon it will render the Bushmen's court case dead. Their only hope now seems to lie in an appeal they have made to the World Bank, which is funding the prospecting.

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    Post Re: Law erases Bushmen's rights to Kalahari

    This is very telling, tragic, and blows a gigantic hole in the PC myth of evil whites and virtuous blacks. One can easily understand why the Khoisans joined forces with the Boers in Angola against the race that has been murdering them since their first encounter; the blacks.

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    Post Re: Law erases Bushmen's rights to Kalahari

    It's not strange, at all. Do you remember the History of Lyberia ? In the first half of 19th century, southern states of U.S.A. gave freedom to several thousands of black slaves, and brought back them in Africa (west coast). Once in their ancestral homeland again...............................They built a new state (Lyberia) in a densely inhabited area : so, the ex-slaves, became the new wealth ruling class , (an anglophone elite with strict economic contact with western), and enslaved their ancient black brothers and new countrymen : the autoctonous black population who lived there .

    White men the evil ? what Hipocrisy....................

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