10 years of contact
On 24 August 2019 it is 10 years ago that I made contact by email with the spokesperson for the San/
Bushmen in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Since 1970 it was my wish to visit them to gain
knowledge of their way of living and culture. In February 2010 I was with them, as part of a three week
trip through Botswana.
I was deeply shocked after having seen their living circumstances in and outside the CKGR. The people in the CKGR were forced by the Government to live outside in new settlements especially established for them. The reason given by the Government was that it would be easier to take care of the people. They would get a clinic, a school, free of charge water and goats. In spite of all these provisions they were worse off than in the CKGR. Someone said that there at least they knew where to find food. Many returned. After procedures which took many years permission was given to them to live in the CKGR. However, only the people who had been involved in the court case. Children above the age of 18 years had to apply for a permit to visit their family.
On 12 May 2010 The Foundation supporting the First People of the Kalahari Botswana was established. On the website we described our target as follows":
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.
Reason for establishing CKGR.eason for establishing CKGR Quotation from the book "Hunters and gatherers in the Central Kalahari Game Desert".
by George B. Silberbauer (anthropologist and sociologist):
“In response to recommendations I made to the Bechuanaland Protectorate government on April 28, 1960, some 52.000 km2 of Ghanzi district east of the latitude of Great Tsau Hill (Sonop Koppies) was proclaimed a game reserve in 1961. This step was taken to protect the Bushman inhabitants in the area; in the late fifties illegal hunting by non- Bushmen from outside the area posed a serious threat to the hunters and gatherers who depended on the game herds for part of their livelihood. Hunting by Bushmen was not restricted in any way, but entry by non- Bushmen was controlled and the danger from poachers diminished.”
After a few years we realized dat the money SEMK Botswana had collected and sent to the spokesperson, had made no real improvement in the living conditions of the San and neither would this be possible in the future. Contact with the people in the CKGR is for us very difficult because of the language (very few people speak a little English), high use of petrol for the cars (because of soft sand roads), long distances, entrance fees CKGR and the presents and food for the San. During the third trip we discovered that it is forbidden to stay in the settlements of the San, our group was arrested and we had to leave the CKGR.
We came to the conclusion that it would be more profitable to support education in Botswana, from which the San also would profit. Three times I taught a short Handicraft course at an institution for pre school teachers. The students as well as the directors and the staff were enthousiastic. The third time I discovered that the teaching and the boarding was of bad quality, the students and staff were exploited. I suspected that the teacher who taught handicrafts before I came had been sacked because for my lessons the institution did not have to pay. During this period SEMK Botswana also sponsored the study of six youth.
In 2018 we invited a pre school teacher to stay with us for a month to see how education in The Netherlands is organized. She came in July 2018. Seeing different schools and the teaching standards that were sett was helpfull to her and gave her goals to achieve. The trip also added to her self confidence. For 2019 we have invited another woman to look at Dutch schools, she will be here in May 2019. (If she is given a visa.)
We will keep thinking how we can help the San. In any case, we will continue to support Marica and Xwaa.
I have made 11 journeys through Botswana. It made me look at The Netherlands in a different way. Life in The Netherlands might be more luxurious and comfortable, but in both countries you find the same kind of people. Like: hard working and supporting each other, as opposed to parasiting on other people.