Survival International’s global campaign for the Bushmen in the 50th anniversary of Botswana’s independence is gaining momentum. Survival International is urging travelers to desist from travelling to Botswana because of Botswana government’s treatment of its indigenous Bushmen population.
In a statement SI Director Stephen Corry has said, “For decades now the Botswana government has dragged its heels and refused to acknowledge that the Bushmen have rights that need to be respected. In this historic year, that surely has to change. The country’s own high court has ruled in favour of the Bushmen’s right to their land, and to continue to limit access to the Kalahari to its first peoples is a sign of brutal authoritarianism in a country so often praised as a beacon of African democracy. Botswana needs to properly earn that reputation by ending this appalling mistreatment of its tribal peoples.”
Already, a number of well known celebrities have joined Survival’s campaign to secure the right of the Bushmen to return to their land in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. These include actors Joanna Lumley, Dominic West, Gillian Anderson, Sophie Okonedo and Mark Rylance, to mention but a few.
Twenty years ago the Botswana government began “relocating” Bushmen from their ancestral land in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve under the pretext that it was preserving the reserve, which is home to various wildlife species.
The Bushmen won the right to return to the reserve in a landmark 2006 court ruling. Despite this, the government continues to enforce a permit system limiting the number of Bushmen who are allowed to live in or visit the reserve. Michael Dingake has compared the permit scheme to apartheid-era pass-laws.