Afrikan World History and Culture
Botswana commits human catastrophe
Most of us enjoyed seeing Jill Scott play the lead role in the show “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.” Other than Ms. Scott physically playing the appreciated Afrikan woman, the image of Botswana, where the show was filmed, was very positive. The open environment reflected a beautiful place to be. We now see that it may have been used as a propaganda cover-up.
Doing some general research, I accidentally came upon some information about the first human beings, whose descendents still exist. They are the San people, more popularly known as Bushmen. Many lived in Botswana several thousand years before any other human group.
Watching a news report, a documentary, and reading some articles on their plight, things were looking very ugly.
Getting below the surface on this, I was beginning to see a pattern of things Europeans and Arabs had done all over Afrika for centuries. Many brutal things were beginning to happen to the San people. Modern issues were colliding with ancient lifestyles. Land ownership and land expansion were at the heart of the problem. Large diamond deposits were found in these first humans’ land.
Botswana is the leading diamond producer in the world.
The government was forcing these Afrikans off their ancestral land, which today is the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. The government started a public relations campaign casting them as “backwards people.” The former president, Festus Mogae, stated of the San, “They are pre-historic creatures. And like the Dodo bird, face extinction unless they move on.”
He initiated the closing of their school and health clinic. They have been tortured, beaten and brutalized. Their children have been taken away and re-settled. Their waterhole has been cemented over and they are prevented from hunting for food, a tradition they have followed for thousands of years.
The San’s response, “Let them call us primitive, stone-aged people. Our way of life suits us. We have seen their type of development and we do not like it.” Since they have been forced to live near urban environments, they now experience AIDS and alcoholism, something they never knew.
What is so ironic, the right to live in their ancestral land was included in the constitution some 40 years ago, and is now being withdrawn by the government. Co-partner in this human tragedy is De Beers, the South Afrikan diamond company. Diamonds account for half of Botswana’s economy, and 80% of its foreign revenue. No doubt, diamonds are an essential commodity to Botswana’s growth, allowing for significant development and free education for all.
The San people understand this. They suggested staying on their land besides the diamond mines, giving their people a chance for employment. The government refused, continuing their forced removal.
The San fought back with the legal and financial aid of the organization Survival International.
The legal issue in court was the “Rights of First Occupants,” which basically states that the first people to inhabit a land, where there are no other human occupants, have a right to stay on their land. Similar cases have been successful in Australia, Alaska, and Native American cases in the United States. Other indigenous cultures in Afrika are using the same approach to regain their land taken away by European colonial powers.
The San won their case in court, allowing them to stay on their ancestral land, but the government is resisting and are still brutalizing and arresting them for hunting. Their public position, it is not about diamonds, but the preservation of wildlife, which were thriving prior to the removals.
Those who publicly state the removal is related to diamonds are forced to leave the country, as in the case of Professor Kenneth Good, of the University of Botswana. He wrote a paper entitled “Bushmen and Diamonds—(Un) Civil Society in Botswana.” After going through several court cases and appeals, he did not prevail. Following his last appeal, he recounts what happened. “I was literally grabbed from the court by security people and driven across the countryside at high speed to shake off the diplomats, journalists and my lawyers.” He was deported to South Afrika.
The San have moved back to their ancestral land, but still endure brutality and harassment from the government. They also have to fight off the ills of so-called modern civilization previously mentioned. What is not generally known about the San, they are part of the same people who brought the ankh (world’s first spiritual symbol) to the Nile Valley. We can only hope they are allowed to maintain the lifestyle they have been accustomed to for thousands of years.
Unfortunately, some “civilized” folks feel they should disappear.
-Dr. Kwaku’s youth class, Black History 4 Young People, conducted six Saturday mornings, 10 a.m. to noon, begins June 13. For details see website: www.drkwaku.com. Register now.
DISCLAIMER: The beliefs and viewpoints expressed in opinion pieces, letters to the editor, by columnists and/or contributing writers are not necessarily those of Our Weekly.
The world’s largest diamond producer, De Beers, recently made headlines, after selling Jagersfontein–a South African mine that has been closed nearly 40 years–to a group of Black investors known as the Superkolong Consortium, a BEE (Black economic empowerment) holding company for a number of mining operations. All operations and assets at the mine have been turned over to the group in efforts to expand De Beers asset portfolio.
Hollywood, CA -- Get ready for the most unique and entertaining series to hit television; HBO’s “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” starring Grammy award winning singer Jill Scott (“Why Did I Get Married?”) and Anika Noni Rose (“Dreamgirls”). It’s not enough that it is a one hour series that stars a Black woman; as a matter of fact a lot of Black women and men, but it takes place in Africa, Botswana to be exact, and it quickly becomes a feast for your eyes.
ROSEMEAD, Calif.—Growing up in Tema on the Atlantic coast of Ghana, Ewurabena Mensa-Wood had the dream of one day becoming a pilot. “There were no women flying in Ghana when I was growing up,” she said. “I raised a few eyebrows whenever I brought the subject up.”
Despite our recent elections, and the return to business as usual in Washington, many of us are still holding our economic breath. While politicians argue over “fiscal cliffs,” many of us are waiting for a signal that the economy can begin chugging again in earnest. Breaking the grip of this lethargy demands that the American entrepreneur recapture and re-internalize the mindset of a leader.
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—An unprecedented drop in California’s child population coupled with a growing wave of Baby Boomer retirements has major implications for the state and should drive lawmakers to adopt policies that will nurture young people with improved educational opportunities and healthcare, according to a report released today.