Wednesday, February 21, 2024

British royalty / Hollywood A listers join fight against Okavango oil drilling

The Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry and a number of Hollywood A listers have joined the campaign to stop the Botswana and Namibia’s oil exploration.

Among the Hollywood award winning actors who have joined the fight for the suspension of oil and gas drilling in the Okavango River Basin are Leornado Di Caprio, Forrest Whitaker and Djimon Hounsou.

Di Caprio who is the lead actor in the movie Blood Diamonds and Hounsou who won an Oscar award for his supporting role in the same movie had their first brush with Botswana’s environmental politics in 2007.

Local Basarwa pressure group, First People of the Kalahari sought unsuccessfully to persuade DiCaprio and Hounsou to condemn Botswana’s relocation of Basarwa from their ancestral land in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve to make way for diamond mining and tourism.

The release of the film Blood Diamond in 2007 raised the issue of whether Botswana ought to be punished by a boycott of its diamonds because of the government’s “forced removal” of Basarwa from the CKGR.

Prince Harry who is a conservation activist also has a sentimental attachment to the Okavango. Weeks after meeting Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex for the first time, the pair enjoyed their first holiday together in Botswana: a safari where they camped out under the stars. 

Exactly where they stayed during that trip is a fact they’ve kept to themselves, but it is believed they spent time in the Okavango. A year later he took Meghan to his favorite bolt hole, Meno-a-Kwena between the Okavango Delta wetlands and the dry Kalahari Desert to celebrate her 36th birthday.

According to a recent press release from Re;Wild  Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex, Djimon Hounsou, Leonardo DiCaprio and Forest Whitaker last month joined local Indigenous and civil society leaders and conservationists in Namibia and Botswana—including Nadia April, Chris Brown, Patricia Dinyando, Veruschka Dumeni, Anita Lekgowa, Reinhold Mangundu, Rinaani Musutua, Max Muyemburuko and Joram Useb—in calling for an immediate moratorium on oil and gas drilling in the Okavango River Basin, including by Canadian oil and gas company Reconnaissance Energy Africa (ReconAfrica).


Read this week's paper