Saturday, May 18, 2024

DiCaprio pays tribute to Indigenous Communities in Oscars Speech

Accepting his award for best actor in the film The Revenant, Leonardo DiCaprio has dedicated his award to indigenous minority groups around the world such as the Basarwa.


“I want to share this award with all the indigenous communities around the word,” DiCaprio said. He said it was time that the world recognised their history and protects their indigenous lands from corporate interests and people that are out there to exploit them. “It is time that we heard your voice and protect this planet for future generations.” Over two decades, the Basarwa of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) have been at loggerheads with the Botswana government over the latter’s continued efforts to drive the natives out of their indigenous land. The two have on many occasions battled it out at court where victories by the Basarwa have proved futile due to the government’s failure to comply with court rulings. 

The reasons at the centre of Botswana government’s forced removal of Basarwa had ostensibly been promises of basic amenities and necessities that included access to clean water, electricity, healthcare, education etc.    


The government had denied the possibility of a diamond mine ever opening inside the Reserve. Not only did they say the diamond deposits discovered were so little it would not make economic sense to mine, they also said opening such a mine in an environmentally pristine and ecologically sensitive area such as the CKGR would be an insult to the country’s integrity. But the government has since reneged on their decision not to open a diamond mine in the Reserve. The mine was officially opened by President Ian Khama himself in 2014.


Currently a diamond mine has been developed in the middle of the Reserve. Following court rulings against them the government insisted that only Basarwa that had taken government to court would be allowed to go into the reserve. Even then, they would have to first apply with the relevant authorities and could only stay for such length of time as determined by government.

All other Batswana who have sympathised with Basarwa have been demonised as unpatriotic or as being in the payroll of foreign agents such human rights organisations like Survival International.
Oscars- DiCaprio, who had until Sunday night been one of the best actors never to have won a Best Actor award, got a standing ovation from the audience as soon as his name was announced. “What an incredible honour,” was his response to the ovation. He got the Oscar for his role as Hugh Glass in The Revenant.


“The film was about survival, adaptation, triumph of the human spirit, and more importantly trust,” he said of the movie before praising the award winning director, Alejandro I├▒├írritu. Host, Chris Rock, saved the night with his incredible humour. It had been a difficult build up to the event following the #OscarsSoWhite boycott by some of Hollywood’s most famous black artists. Rock took some shots at the couple Will and Jada Smith who had also boycotted the event. 

“Jada boycotting the Oscars was like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited,” he said of the wife before moving onto the husband, “Will was also not nominated for Concussion. It’s not fair that Will was this good but didn’t get a nomination. But it’s also not fair that he got paid $20 million for Wild Wild West.” 

Brie Larson took home the award for best actress for her role as an abducted young woman in the movie Room. Mark Rylance and Alicia Vikander won best supporting actor and actress respectively. Investigative journalists’ movie, Spotlight, about Catholic Church abuses, won Best Picture award. 


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