A TANGLED WEB of deceit, hypocrisy and unbridled greed ensnares Botswana and its incestuous relationship with De Beers. No longer can Botswana be held up as a beacon of prosperity and good governance. The forced removals of thousands of Bushmen to cramped resettlements outside the margins of their ancestral grounds amounts to little more than attempted ethnic cleansing.
It is a brutal fallacy that the removals were for the good of this indigenous people like the Botswana government claims. South African lawyers, speaking on condition of anonymity in 1997, claimed that the removals were designed to “ensure the Bushmen had no claims to the reserve’s mineral wealth.” There is proof to support this assertion.
Exploration in the Kalahari reached unprecedented levels of activity after the removals. Major diamond deposits have been discovered at Gope, for example. That De Beers chooses to play down this find as “insignificant” is just an attempt by the company to keep control of stone’s value.
The recent landmark judgment handed down to the Bushmen of the Kalahari is – tragically – a hollow victory. The Botswana government has since stated that only the 189 claimants will be allowed to return to the land which belongs to them. They are forbidden to rebuild permanent structures and control of their water supplies will be in the hands of pernicious park officials. Hunting is forbidden without a permit. Thus, the Bushmen’s way of life remains under siege.
A diamond may be forever, but the Bushmen certainly are not.
De Beers and its “Siamese twin”, the Botswana government, regard the ruling as a mere hiccup in their pursuit of control of the Kalahari’s mineral wealth.
Sadly, the excesses of unchecked capitalism seem determined to destroy a culture that has existed for well over ten thousand years.
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