Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Bushmen return

For over a decade, the government of Botswana has been forcing the San Bushmen out of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, an area they have occupied for over 20,000 years. The reserve was created in 1961 to protect the Bushmen living there from farmers and cattle-raising tribes. The government claims it is too expensive to provide basic services and, furthermore, the Bushmen threaten the reserve's ecology with their hunting ways. Skeptics suggest the government wants the area cleared for diamond mining, the country's main export industry.

Botswana's Supreme Court has now ruled 2-1 that evicting the Bushmen is illegal and those who have been removed, many of whom live in squalid resettlement camps, must be allowed to return. The case - the longest in Botswana's history - is seen as of major importance in establishing the rights of indigenous peoples.

The Bushmen are among the last of Africa's hunter-gathers, the last representatives on that continent of a way of life we all once enjoyed, a way of life we may have been fools to abandon.


Post a Comment

<< Home