Botswana president in racist outburst against Kalahari
_Botswana president in racist outburst against Kalahari Bushmen_
 In an astonishing outburst,
Botswana’s president has described the Kalahari Bushmen
as ‘primeval’, ‘primitive’ and ‘backward’.
Speaking at the country’s largest diamond mine, President Khama accused the Bushmen of living a ‘life of backwardness’, ‘a primitive life of deprivation co-existing alongside wild animals’, and ‘a primeval life of a bye [sic] gone era of hardship and indignity’.
Khama also accused
Survival International of ‘embarking upon a campaign of
lies and misinformation’, calling the tribal rights
organization ‘modern day highway robbers’. His comments
came in response to Survival’s call for a boycott of
Botswana tourism and diamonds over the government’s
treatment of the Bushmen. President Khama is a board
member of US organization Conservation International.
In 2002, while Khama was vice-president, the Botswana government forcibly evicted the Bushmen from their ancestral lands; an act that was later declared unlawful and unconstitutional by Botswana’s High Court, which also ruled that the Bushmen have the right to live on their lands. Links: 6. http://www.survivalinternational.org/tribes/bushmen/courtcase#main
the ruling, Khama’s government has continued to prevent
the Bushmen from living on their lands. It has banned them
from accessing a well, which they rely on for water, and
from hunting for food. At the same time, it has drilled new
wells for wildlife and allowed Wilderness Safaris to
erect a luxury tourist lodge with swimming pool on Bushman
land. Over 25,000 people across the world have signed
Survival’s petition calling on Wilderness Safaris to
move its lodge off Bushman land. Links:
the Bushmen have turned to litigation to gain access to
their well, the government is in negotiations with Gem
Diamonds to construct a diamond mine on Bushman land.
Khama has previously referred to the Bushmen as ‘an archaic fantasy’, a view that has been echoed by members of his cabinet. Last month, speaking to the BBC, Botswana’s minister of environment, wildlife and tourism said he didn’t believe ‘you would want to see your own kind living in the dark ages in the middle of nowhere as a choice, when you know that the world has moved forward and has become so technological’. The vice-president has also been quoted as questioning why the Bushmen must ‘continue to commune with the flora and fauna’ when they could ‘enjoy the better things in life, like driving Cadillacs’.
Survival’s director Stephen Corry said today, ‘Many countries have laws to stop people insulting other peoples and their ways of life. There are sinister echoes here of racial superiority which should have no place in any modern democracy. It’s this thinking which is ‘backward’, not the Bushmen.’
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