Survival International has announced that President Ian Khama is one of the four nominees for its notorious “Racist of the Year” award, given annually to the person displaying the greatest prejudice against tribal peoples.
Other nominees are Australian cartoonist Bill Leak, who was widely criticised for a cartoon depicting an Aboriginal man as a drunken and irresponsible father.
While Australia’s Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion urged The Australian newspaper to be more aware of the impact cartoons such as the one published could have on Indigenous communities with its racist stereotypes, Leak refused to apologise for the cartoon.
Another nominee, according to Survival International, are the organisers of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games for accusing Brazilian tribal peoples of infanticide, sexual abuse, rape, slavery and torture and describing them as “traditional practices”.
The organisers also backed “Muwaji’s Law,” a proposed law in Brazil being promoted by Evangelical missionaries as a means of breaking up tribal families.
According to Survival International, Khama found his way into the nomination list after saying that Basarwa in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve led lives “of backwardness,” “a primitive life of deprivation” and “a primeval life of a bygone era”.
Survival international further says Khama’s government has continually denied the Basarwa access to their ancestral land after they were forcibly evicted in 2002.
“Most of them still live in poverty in government eviction camps despite a 2006 High Court ruling which said they had the right to their land. They are accused of “poaching” when they hunt to feed their families, and have been shot on sight for hunting antelope for food,” says Survival International.
Yet another nominee is Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, an Indian film-maker who made MSG-2 the Messenger, a film which described Indian tribal peoples (known as Adivasis) as “evil” and advocated their forced integration into mainstream Indian society.
Tribal rights activist Gladson Dungdung said: “I strongly condemn the movie and demand a ban on it. The film portrays the Adivasis as devils. This also clearly exposes the mindset of non-tribals who have a racist outlook for Adivasis. We must stop this humiliation and degradation.”
Survival International says tribal peoples are portrayed as backward and primitive simply because their communal ways are different. Industrialised societies subject them to genocidal violence, slavery and racism so they can steal their lands, resources and labour in the name of “progress” and “civilization”.
Survival International’s Director Stephen Corry said: “The sort of views on display among this year’s nominees would not have been out of place in the colonial era. The idea that entire peoples are “backwards,” “miserable” or “morally degenerate” has always been used as an excuse for stealing their land and forcing them into the mainstream against their will.”