President tells Bushmen their way of life is an ‘archaic fantasy’

December 12, 2008

Bushman children, CKGR, Botswana 2004 © Survival International

This page was created in 2008 and may contain language which is now outdated.

Two years after the historic court victory that affirmed the Kalahari Bushmen’s right to live and hunt on their land, Botswana’s President Ian Khama has told the Bushmen that their hunting way of life is an ‘archaic fantasy’.

Botswana’s High Court affirmed on 13 December 2006 that the government’s eviction of the Bushmen was ‘unlawful and unconstitutional’, and that they have the right to live on their ancestral land inside the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR).

The court also ruled that the Bushmen have the right to hunt and gather in the reserve. But President Khama said in his recent state of the nation address, ‘The notion… that [the Bushmen wish] to subsist today on the basis of a hunter-gathering lifestyle is an archaic fantasy.’

One of the judges making the 2006 ruling said the government’s refusal to allow the Bushmen to hunt ‘was tantamount to condemning the residents of the CKGR to death by starvation.’ Yet two years after the ruling, the government has not issued the Bushmen with a single licence to hunt inside the reserve.

A Bushman spokesman said today, ‘Hunting is not out of date. We want to be hunters and gatherers today. This is the best way for us to survive in the Kalahari.’

The Botswana government has approved plans for a diamond mine on the Bushmen’s land, on the condition that the mining company does not provide the Bushmen with water. It has banned the Bushmen from using a water borehole at one of their communities, but is allowing a nearby tourist lodge to pump water for its guests.

Botswana’s President Khama is a board member of the US-based conservation organisation Conservation International.

For more information please contact Miriam Ross at Survival International on (44) (0)20 7687 8734 or (44) (0)7504 543 367 or email [email protected]