Thursday 2 August 2018
An aquaintance took me to Xwaa on 7 May. Xwaa lives just outside Ghanzi on the side of the main road to the north on a plot where a few Bushmen families have made huts from corrugated sheets, with his mother, stepfather and two little brothers, maybe more people. Two sides of the hut are open. Xwaa sleeps between a couple of dirty blankets on the ground outside the hut. Five mornings a week he and his two little brothers attend the Window for Hope centre, wich has been set up by a priest and his wife. The children are provided with two meals a day, get attention and are prepared to attend school (again). The owner of the plot, the building and a nearly finished toilet block (two toilets and a shower cabin for the boys, and the same for the girls) lets the Centre use it free of charge. When the block is finished, the children will have a shower after arrival in the morning, put on clean clothes and their own dirty ones will be laundered. When they leave for home, they put on their own clothes. I have given money to buy new clothes for Xwaa and bought food for Xwaa and his family. After returning to The Netherlands I sent some money for toiletries. It is a relieve to know that they are taken care of, as in the home situaties food and care are still not sufficient.
Leaked documents have confirmed the United States Government’s fears that the Botswana Government deliberately placed British lawyer Gordon Bennett on a visa list with the sole aim of disabling Basarwa of Central Kalahari game Reserve (CKGR) in their fresh legal tussle with government. (British citizens do not need a visum to enter Botswana.) sundaystandard.info
I have called the social worker in Ghanzi. She was pleased that she could tell me that Xwaa had been found and is still collecting his monthly food basket from the social service department. From January next he has been enrolled in a school class for disabled children. I told the social worker that we have turned full circle and are back at square one. Xwaa had attended school before but was sent away because the teachers could not cope with his attacks. And what about the home situation, I asked. Who is checking that he gets proper food and his medicine in time. (My suspicion is that his epileptic attacks are a result of malnutrition.) The social worker explained that parents or caretakers are responsible for that, since Botswana has got a Childrens Protection Act. If parents neglect their children they can be taken to court, and if necessary put into jail. But they prefer talking to them though this can be difficult. When social workers visit them at 7.30 am, they might be at their drinking place. Even if they manage to talk to them, they usually do not accept advice. Another problem is that there are thousands of children like Xwaa and courtrooms and jails would overflow if the law was implemented.
At the end of 2016 I received the message that Xwaa's uncle had left the farm with unknown destination, taking his family with him. On 14 August 2017 I had a meeting with a social worker in Ghanzi. The social worker who was working on Xwaa's case in 2016 had been transferred. An attempt would be made to get in touch with her to ask how far she got with Xwaa's case. I would be called about the result. As there had been no message by 30 August, I went to see the Ombudsman in Gaborone and told him the story about Xwaa. He agreed that the boy should be located and taken to an institution where he could be observed and treated. But he could not do anything, I had to go to the department of Local Governemnt. There I told the story again, they could not do anything either and adviced me to go to another ministery. Luckily this secretary was kind enough to ask for advice by telephone. She was told I also could go to the social work departnement in Molepolole, the town where I taught. The next day I had to tell the story twice. The social worker was going to contact the social worker in Ghanzi, who would call me. This she did. I was asked who had been involved in the case so she could call them. Out of this came that he had been, probably with his aunt and uncle, to collect his monthly foodbasket. All they had to do was to wait for the collection of the next basket, so they could send him to a clinic for observation. They would inform me if this had happened. At this moment, 13 November, no message has come yet.
President Ian Khama, former president Festus Mogae, opposition Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) member Sidney Pilane (previously member BDP, ruling party) and a number of Cabinet ministers were complicit in an elaborate secret psychological warfare and scorched earth policy to force Basarwa out of the Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve (CKGR) – confidential official documents and memos passed to the Sunday Standard have for the first time revealed thegovernment’s documented systematic plan to use starvation as a weapon to force Basarwa out of the CKGR. The documents reveal that the government at some stage considered physically forcing Basarwa out of the reserve, but was worried that this would attract international controversy. Pilane, then Special Advisor to Mogae came up with a military-style scorched earth tactic to starve the Basarwa out of the CKGR. Pilane wrote in one of the secret memos: “As previously advised, the physical removal of those people from the Reserve would attract too much controversy, quite apart from the incidents that might result from the forcible and physical removal of such great numbers of people and animals.” Pilane proposed making sure that CKGR residents did not cultivate crops, keep domestic stock, hunt for wild animals and collect wild plants inside the reserve." Read more: sundaystandard.info/plans-starve-basarwa-out-ckgr-open
One may wonder why these documents only now have been passed on. And if earlier it was considered that physical removement would attract too much international attention, why they had not realized that these documents would come into the open one day and therefore did not destroy them.
From June 2017 tourists will have to pay on entering Botswana per person a $ 30 tourism levy for a visit of maximum 30 days. This is on top of the tourism levy which one already is charged when staying at lodges, camps, hotels etc.
Update:On 10 August 2017 someone told me she heard from a good source that Parliament had voted against this rule on 9 August.
“Lions are ambush predators; they rely on stealth and the element of surprise in order to bring down their prey,” he said. “As soon as they lose that element of surprise, as soon as the prey sees them, they abandon their hunt.”
That is why he and fellow researchers are going to Botswana to paint eyes on cows’ rumps. They hope it will prove a low-cost way to protect livestock from lions, and lions from being killed by farmers in retaliation. One of the main threats to lions in Africa is conflict with farmers, who shoot or poison them to stop them preying on livestock. In the 1990s there were more than 100,000 African lions. There could now be as few as 23,000 adults and they are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Dr Jordan, a conservation biologist at the University of NSW’s Centre for Ecosystem Science, said farmers and local governments feel the only way they can protect livestock from lions is to kill them.
“It’s from desperation, really, because obviously the lions affect their livelihood and the non-lethal tools that might be available are all very expensive,” he said. “As protected conservation areas become smaller, lions are increasingly coming into contact with human populations, which are expanding to the boundaries of these protected areas.”
Dr Jordan, who also holds research posts at the Taronga Conservation Society Australia and the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust, was inspired to paint eyes onto cattle after watching a lion hunt an impala. When the intended prey cottoned on to the carnivore’s presence, the lion gave up the hunt.
“We wanted to hijack this natural response by painting eyes on the rumps of cows, so that lions could be tricked into thinking they’d been seen and abandon the hunt,” he said.
It’s the same kind of “psychological trickery” employed by woodcutters in India, who ward off tigers by wearing face masks on the backs of their heads, and butterflies that avoid becoming bird food thanks to eye-like patterns on their wings.
Dr Jordan trialled his idea - which he calls iCow - last year, with promising results. The researchers stamped painted eyes onto one-third of a herd of 62 cattle, making sure the eyes were large, easily visible and “potentially intimidating”. While three unpainted cows were killed by lions, all the painted cows survived to graze another day.
If successful, iCow would be an affordable tool for farmers; losing one cow costs five times as much as painting a herd of 60 cattle. Over the next three months Dr Jordan will lead further testing on another herd of cattle in Botswana.
The government has injected over P20 million into the Basarwa projects of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR). The sudden windfall was prompted by an unexpected directive from President Ian Khama to restore services into the neglected settlement.
The Botswana government does not recognize any specific ethnic groups as indigenous to the country, maintaining instead that all citizens of the country are indigenous. However, 3.3% of the population identifies as belonging to indigenous groups, including the San (known in Botswana as the Basarwa) who, in July 2015, numbered some 62,500. In the south of the country are the Balala, who number some 1,700 and the Nama, a Khoekhoe-speaking people who number 2,100. The majority of the San, Nama and Balala reside in the Kalahari Desert region of Botswana. The San in Botswana were traditionally hunter-gatherers but today the vast majority consists of small-scale agro-pastoralists, cattle post workers, or people with mixed economies who reside both in rural and urban areas. They are sub-divided into a large number of named groups, most of whom speak their own mother tongue in addition to other languages. These groups include the Ju/’hoansi, Bugakhwe, Khwe-ǁAni, Ts'ixa, ǂX'ao-ǁ'aen, !Xóõ, ǂHoan, ‡Khomani, Naro, G/ui, G//ana, Tsasi, Deti, Shua, Tshwa, Danisi and /Xaise. The San, Balala, and Nama are among the most underprivileged people in Botswana, with a high percentage living below the poverty line.
Botswana is a signatory to the conventions on women (CEDAW), the Rights of the Child (CRC) and on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination (CEDR). It is also a signatory to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples but it has not signed the only international human rights convention that deals with indigenous peoples, the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention No. 169 of 1989 of the International Labor Organization (ILO).
There are no specific laws on indigenous peoples’ rights in the country nor is the concept of indigenous peoples included in the Botswana Constitution.
Khama- Sesana deal. President Ian Khama’s latest move to kiss and make up with some leaders of the Basarwa community left the inhabitants of the CKGR settlements, their advocates, stakeholders and funders in a state of confusion. Read more
Minister Tshekedi Khama, brother of president Lt Gen Ian Khama, is questioning the wisdom of awarding a mining license to explore the diamond mine in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.
President Khama’s reaction was that the people who are against the exploration of the mine are against development of Botswana. Personally I think this was a correct argument many years ago, but no longer. Not only dropped the price of diamonds due to the fiancial crises, but also the large quantity of synthetic diamonds that have flooded the market made the price go down. Another point is the large amount of water which is needed for cleaning the diamonds, and that in a time of water shortage. The mine will leave at the end of its productive live a large wound, which might never be healed.
Read the whole artikel in the Sunday Standard Botswana.
Around the world, tribal peoples are being accused of “poaching” because they hunt their food. This violates their rights under international law and leaves them vulnerable to arrest and beatings, torture and death.
They are better at looking after their environment than anyone else, and yet are often the target of “anti-poaching” drives while the main causes of biodiversity loss, like logging and organized poaching networks, go unaddressed.
On March 25, representatives of countries from around the world will meet at a follow-up conference in Botswana on the illegal wildlife trade. Last year no mention was made of the fact that tribal people hunting on their lands to feed their families are not “poachers.”
The first diamonds mined from the ancestral homeland of Africa’s last hunting Bushmen have gone on sale for Valentine’s Day, while the tribe continues to face persecution by the Botswana government, which is intent on driving them from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.
Botswana’s government has always denied that diamonds were the reason for the forced and illegal evictions of the Bushmen between 1997 and 2005 – one of its claims was to protect the wildlife.
But its hypocrisy has been exposed by allowing diamond mining and fracking exploration to go ahead in the reserve.
A $4.9bn diamond mine will open on September 5 in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, the ancestral land of Africa’s last hunting Bushmen, exactly ten years after the Botswana government claimed there were “no plans to mine anywhere inside the reserve.”
The Bushmen were told they had to leave the reserve soon after diamonds were discovered in the 1980s, but the Botswana government has repeatedly denied that the illegal and forced evictions of the Kalahari Bushmen – in 1997, 2002 and 2005 – were due to the rich diamond deposits. It justified the Bushmen’s evictions from the land in the name of “conservation”.
Africa’s last hunting Bushmen have given formal notice of their intention to sue the Botswana government over its “unlawful and unconstitutional” attempts to starve them off their ancestral land in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.
The Bushmen rely on subsistence hunting to feed their families but face harassment, torture and arrest when found hunting for survival. Earlier this year, the Botswana government issued a nationwide ban on hunting without notifying the Kalahari Bushmen or offering any compensation.
This is the fourth time the Bushmen have been forced to resort to legal action against the government in their desperate wish to live in peace on their land. In a landmark victory in 2006, Botswana’s High Court ruled that the Bushmen have the right to live, and hunt, in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.
The Bushmen were allegedly spotted on a hunting trip by Botswana’s President Khama as his plane flew over the Bushmen’s land in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in April 2012.
The men – Mongwegi Gaoberekwe, Mohame Belesa, Thoama Tsenene and Dipuisano Mongwegi – were intercepted by the police; their spears, bows and arrows, and domestic animals were confiscated.
The men told police they were hunting to feed their families, and did not know it was wrong to hunt eland on their native soil.
In 2006, following violent evictions from their land, the Bushmen’s right to live and hunt in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve was recognized by Botswana’s High Court.
Despite the Court’s order, no hunting licenses have been granted since the ruling.
The Bushmen are widely recognized as inherent conservationists and have practiced sustainable hunting in the reserve for centuries.
In January 2014, President Khama imposed a nationwide hunting ban that could destroy the last hunting Bushmen in Southern Africa. The ban exempts private game ranches, where wealthy trophy hunters can pay up to $8,000 to hunt protected species, such as giraffes.
Scores of Bushman hunters have been arrested and violently intimidated by wildlife officers and police, and the government has now employed a ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy against anyone suspected of ‘poaching’.
The Bushmen’s lawyer, Monamo Aobakwe, told Survival today, ‘The men are all overjoyed at the ruling. Thanks to Survival International for continuing to support the Bushmen to ensure they are properly represented and have freedom to justice. It really makes a big difference.’
This project is financed by the sale of knitted Loesje Feuilleton hats. When you buy a hat you have a chance of winning a photo on canvass of the Girl in Botswana (Look alike of the Girl with the pearl earring by Vermeer.) One has to guess how many hats have to be sold to pay the school- and boarding fee for 1 year and 3 month. If the right number has not been guessed, the person who’s guess is the nearest will get the print. If there are several (near) correct answers, the print will be raffled. See for hats on offer and measurements the menu on top. The price for 1 hat is € 10 or more, exclusive transportation cost. Buyers outside The Netherlands are requested to pay all the bank charges for the transfer.
Why did few young people pass their school exams last year? (In the best school the passing result was 23%.) The IMF has done research in this matter. From what their report says, it would appear that when the government added teaching to the amended list of essential services in 2011 in order “to promote the rights of children to uninterrupted education,” it neglected to promote schools’ access to uninterrupted funding.
IMF explains why students fail exams
Will the directors of the mine, to celebrate this good news, donate a borehole to each settlement in the CKGR? For the profit is taken from the land which was given to the Bushmen.
Might this be the reason that we are not allowed to give knitting workshops in the CKGR? I cannot imagine it. In a country where a serious threat of water shortage is always around the corner, one would assume that the available water would be better taken care of. This must be a misunderstanding.
See article in Botswanan Mmegi, 21 November 2013. Most of it has been taken from the English Guardian.
See also the South African Daily Maverick.
We have come to the conclusion that at the moment (11 September 2013) we cannot come up to the expectations of our aim. We cannot obtain a permit to visit the Bushmen in their settlements in the CKGR to give knitting workshops. An explanation for the refusal has not been given. This is a pity, because now we have to guess what the reason for the refusal is. It will create misunderstandings and irritations. We obtained the rules and regulations of the CKGR from the Wildlife office in Ghanzi, Botswana. In this document it states that the CKGR was in 1961 sett up for the protection of the flora and fauna. In fact, it was sett up for the protection of the lifestyle of the local people against poachers. Nothing was mentioned about stopping visitors to stay at the settlements. We have decided not to insist on being given a permit for giving workshops in the CKGR. It is a pity that the Botswanan government feels that it is necessary to keep people who want to hel the Bushmen out of the CKGR. We will continue to give knitting lessons and other assistence to people outside the CKGR, untill permission is given to do this also inside the CKGR. In this way we will stay informed whether assistence is still needed in Botswana.
We have received the paper version of the explanation about the refusal of the workshops in the CKGR settlements. It still is not clear to us what the reason is. Before consent to enter the CKGR is given, we have to promise not to infringe the Rules and Regulations of the CKGR. But what are these rules exactly? Is one not allowed to enter the settlements at all, or is one allowed to meet the people just ouside the settlements? Is one allowed to put up a tent just outside the settlements?
The entry permit for the CKGR has been refused. The intention was to give workshops knitting, crochet and weaving in the five settlements. The reason given was, that I had been illegaly with the people in the CKGR on previous journeys. My explanition that I did not know that one is not allowed to visit friends in the CKGR, but that I now have applied for a permit, was ignored. It was repeated that the reason was my illegal stay. What am I allowed to do. "You may go into Botswana if you are able to prove that you are not going into the CKGR, which you cannot, but you may go into Botswana." This explanation we do not understand. But we are going to receive the explanition on paper. Maybe that will make it understandable. Although we have many questions about the decision, we will leave the matter as it is. If there are people who feel uncomfortable with me staying in the CKGR for giving workshops, then we shall respect that by not persisting he matter. Permission is given to assist Botswanan organisations who support the Bushmen and other indigenous people.
The problems with the finishing of the borehole in Molapo in the CKGR have not been solved. It will take some time before the borehole is in working order, as the materials for the hole have been stolen.
Journey to Botswana, 20 August till 17 September 2012.
It was a very successfull journey. All the targets were reached. Spontaniously new challenges appeared. Some were taken up straight away, others will be taken up later. Even the slow bus ride from Johannesburg to Gaborone (capitol of Botswana) had an interesting consequence. The reason for the slow driving was a faulty fan belt, which ment we had to stop for 10 minutes, drive for 5 or 10 minutes at 15 miles an hour, stop, drive. After an hour we transferred to another bus. We arrived at the border at 0.10 am. The border had closed at midnight and was to re-open at 6 am. A few passengers decided to lodge a complaint at the buscompany's office at the end of the journey and I was invited to join. It was interesting to see how Batswana lodge a complaint. They do that calmly and politely.
Since about one week Botswana has been given the status of a drought area. 20 August we are going to Botswana and are trying to take as much money as possible to buy the people in the CKGR water and food. WILL YOU HELP? Thanking you in advance.
As there has been little interest in the sale of knitwear in the Tamboer Passage in Hoogeveen during the past month, this activity will end. The last sale days will be on 20 July and 2 August. Warm thanks to all who have supported us.
The restauration of the borehole in Molapo was planned in the middle of June. No message has been received so far whether this has happened.
The borehole in Mothomelo was working perfectly as of mid April 2012, the water tastes great. The other boreholes still give salty water. The company which should have solved the problem, has not done so far. In the beginning of March 2012 a group of people went into Molapo to try to repair them. However, the pipes they had brought with them were of the wrong size. From Ghanzi someone went on his way to bring the right size pipes, but 40 km inside the CKGR the back spring of the car broke and the battery was flat. After 4 days the driver walked to the gate of the CKGR, borrowed a tractor to fetch his car. 10 km inside the CKGR the tractor broke down. The car has been sitting in the CKGR for a few weeks. When it was collected, it appeared all the petrol was taken out of the tank and the gadget to change the front-wheel drive into 4X4 had disappeared.
It was a heartwarming and succesfull visit. The people were overjoyed with the food, clothes, excercise books, writing materials and footballs we brought. A more extensive journal will follow later. For the moment some pictures.
Preparations are currently being made for a Vox team to travel from Johannesburg, South Africa to (Molapo) Botswana next month. The expedition, led by Wikkie Duplesis, centers on outfitting a newly drilled borehole with a borehole pump and a reverse osmosis unit with desalination filter unit – giving local Bushmen access to clean, drinkable water for the first time ever in this area of the Kalahari Desert. Team leader, Jaco vanRensburg indicates that the project will take approximately 7-10 days to complete.
Bushman girls enjoy water from the well at Mothomelo
By Jaco van Rensburg, Vox United.
A new borehole is drilled in Mothomelo and good water was found at 72m.
In Metsiamonong two holes were drilled, but both gave salt water.
Gope Exploration Company, owner of the diamond mine in Gope, will drill 1 borehole at each of 4 Bushmen settlements, for the use of the inhabitants. This includes sunpanels etc. The drilling will start the middle of July. If there is money left over, 1 or 2 more boreholes will be drilled at other settlements. We will continue to collect money, in case it is not possible for the company to finish the project.
If the money is not needed voor the boreholes, it will be transfered to the account for food and clothing.
The repairs to the borehole in Mothomelo have not been succesful. No water has come up. The reason for this is unkown to us. In 3 weeks time another attempt will be made.
The spokesperson for the Bushmen got stuck in Kaudwane, due to lack of money for returning to his homestead Ghanzi. € 130 is needed for petrol for the 900 km to Ghanzi. He will have to find a temporary job to gain this money.
More info: voxunited.org
The good news: A group of people in South Africa has offered to restore the borehole in Mothomelo for free. A pump is already available, though it has to be seen whether it has sufficient capacity.
In the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, which was established in 1961 as a habitat for the indigenous Bushmen and native animals, there is now the start of the Gope diamond mine.
The Gope Exploration Company will put up a special seed fund for the villages which are affected by the Gope diamond mine. They will do this “hand-in-hand” with the inhabitants. The fund is established to support the villages with sustainable projects.
On March 12, 2011, the Botswanan Sunday Standard reported that a start will be made with a diamond mine near Gope village in the south east of the CKGR by Gope Exploration Company. In the company's annual report for 2010 it is stated that the organization of the camp accommodation for the camp employees is scheduled for the second quarter of 2011 and an access to the diamonds in the ground will be made. Construction of the first phase of this exciting project will begin in 2011 and in 2013 the mine will be productive.
The Botswanan government closed the only borehole in the CKGR on January 31, 2002 for use by people. Since then people bring water into the CKGR during the dry seasons on foot and with donkeys from outside the CKGR. The police has arrested some of them several times while doing so. On January 27 2011 , the Botswanan High Court has decided that the ban on the use of the boreholes in the CKGR was unjustified and the existing borehole may be reopened and new ones drilled.
About this site Supporting the Bushmen so they can stay in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and live there as they wish and as long as they wish. The CKGR was created for them.
Other news Xwaa's life has improved
Bennett's VISA ban pits Khama against US, UK, FPP
What happened to Xwaa afterwards - Update
What happened to Xwaa afterwards
Sunday Standard announced: "Plans to starve Basarwa out of CKGR in the open."
The life of Xwaa
Lion hunt at Dithubaruba festival 2016 in Molepolole
Scaring Lions Away With iCows
Government injects over Pula 20 million into CKGR
Basarwa confused over Sesana’s employment.
Rule and divide tactic?
Diamond Mine in Central Kalahari Game Reserve
Urgent Action: World leaders must recognize tribal peoples’ right to hunt
‘Bushmen aren’t forever’ as Kalahari diamonds go on sale
Botswana government lies exposed as diamond mine opens on Bushman land
Hunters Not Poachers: Botswana Bushmen to sue government over hunting ban
Bushmen "poachers" cleared after two-year court battle
How many hats are needed for one youngster to go back to school?