The ideal would have been for Jumanda Gakelebone to take the First People of the Kalahari gospel to a fresh pair of ears but he spent Tuesday morning at a prestigious London address preaching to the converted. Unaccustomed to modesty, Survival International (SI) could not stop gloating about Gakelebone’s meeting with Prince Charles. The future king of England is indeed a big catch but the fact of the matter is that going back to at least 1995, he has always sympathised with FPK’s cause.
In his book, “Tears for My Land”, Kuela Kiema writes that following a meeting with FPK leaders in London, Prince Charles donated a Land Rover to the organisation. The leaders in question were the late John Hardbattle and Roy Sesana. The latter says that during this visit they spent the whole day at Clarence House, Prince Charles’ London office, detailing the plight of the Basarwa in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve to the prince’s private secretary. The following day, the pair flew out to Scotland for a face-to-face meeting with the Prince Charles himself. Sesana says that it was after this meeting that the prince donated the vehicle. “That is the so-called [BMW] X5 that I was supposed to have been chauffeured around in,” says Sesana, attributing the circulation of such wilful falsehood to a certain former minister, a lady whose name he chooses to purposefully mispronounce. “There were also false stories about me staying in a flat and about my children going to elite private schools in London and America.”
Sesana says that back in 1995 when Prince Charles heard about all the problems that CKGR Basarwa were experiencing, he promised to take the matter up with Lieutenant General Ian Khama whom he described as a personal friend. At the time, Khama was the commander of the Botswana Defence Force. Three years later, he would retire from the army, join politics and become vice president and president in 2008. Two months ago, Khama attended an anti-poaching conference in London alongside Prince Charles and his son, Prince William.
Following that conference, Prince William’s United for Wildlife was launched. Sesana expresses worry that this development could be a result of Prince Charles having deserted FPK and fraternising with the leader of an enemy government. He adds that the prince should have used the opportunity of the February meeting to ask Khama why he is persecuting the Basarwa. A statement that SI put out on the eve of Gakelebone’s meeting with Prince Charles reads: “President Khama has banned all hunting nationwide, even for Bushmen who hunt to feed their families, under the pretext of clamping down on poaching.
However, it has emerged that trophy hunters who pay up to $8,000 to hunt giraffes and zebras are still being allowed to hunt.” In an attempt to keep the British royal in its corner, FPK sent Gakelebone to London to tell him that “We are not poachers.” Sesana himself wanted to go but that was not possible because, as he reveals, the sponsors of the trip (SI) said that they could sponsor only one person.