The Khalahari Bushmen

The controversial relocation of the indigenous people of the Kalahari

The Khalahari Bushmen The controversial relocation of Kalahari Bushmen by the government of Botswana has provoked international condemnation.

The Kalahari Bushmen have lived in the desert for over 30,000 years. "This is where we belong," states a member proudly. However, the government disagrees. Last February, they ruled that the Bushmen must move out of the desert into settlement centres. Protestors claim they are being moved to allow foreign companies to mine diamonds and regard the gems as tainted as blood diamonds. But government official Eric Molale maintains the move is "for their own good and the good of the nation." Since then their mobile health clinics have been closed, villages dismantled and boreholes sealed in a programme of official harassment. "The government has tossed us away," despairs a village patriarch. However, the Bushmen are now fighting back. They refuse to move to these centres, preferring to remain in baron villages than leave their homeland. A legal challenge has also been mounted against the government and those who initially moved to the centres are now returning. "They can come and threaten me, but I refuse to go," states one rebel villager. Supporters smuggle water into their villages in defiance of government regulations and the Bushmen are preparing themselves for a long struggle. However, they have little alternative if they want to maintain their traditional way of life. As spokesmen Roy Sesana states: "We are human beings who have minds ... and we want to live traditionally."

Produced by ABC Australia
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