About the Bushmen
The Bushmen/ San/ Kxosa/ Khoi/ Basarwa are regarded as the first people on earth. They lived in southern and central Africa. Due to various causes their habitat has shrunk to southern Africa.
The Bushmen are not warlike. If they want something from someone they will do that by asking or exchanging. Bow, arrow and spear were made of wood and bone and only used for hunting for food.
When the Arabs with spears and arrows with metal points came from the north the Bushmen could not stand up to them. Many were murdered or enslaved by the Arabs, or given to heads of state in other parts of the world.
Later on large African tribes came from the north with their cattle. The many animals left little food for the native animals, so their number declined and there were less for the Bushmen to hunt. So they shot the cattle of the invaders. This was seen as theft and the Bushmen were killed as punishment.
The first group of Europeans came in the 17th century and toke away many people to sell them as slaves. The second group came around 1900 and the Bushmen helped them to survive in the arid Kalahari. This group also brought their cattle. To protect these from predators, fences were put up around the farms. This stopped the native animals to go to the wetlands in dry periods and many of them died. This ment that there were even less animals for the Bushmen to hunt. They were relying on the meat and hides of these animals for food, clothes and trading/ exchanging. So they stole cattle of the Europeans. They saw them as a threat to their farms. Expeditions were held to kill the Bushmen. Often women and children were taken back home to work as nanny or house servant. In 1938 the last permit to kill Bushmen was given out. A dead Bushmen was worth 45 cent.
Until recently, Bushmen were seen as the lowest of the lowest kind of people. Around 1950 they asked the British government (Botswana was still under British rule) for a piece of land where they, like the Jewish people in Israël, could live safely. This request was granted in 1961 with the establishment of the CKGR to protect the 3000 G/wikhoen en G//anakhoen Bushmen and the native animals. The people were allowed to live there as they wished (hunting and gathering) and as long as they wished.
At that time they were still nomads. In the 60's of last century George Silberbauer did research among the Bushmen in the CKGR and in 1961 drilled a borehole for his own use. The Bushmen were allowed to use it, but only when George Silberbauer was there. This to prevent them to change their nomadic life to a more modern style of living.
After the departure of George Silberbauer the Bushmen used the borehole themselves. The place became a settlement, called Xade, and grew rapidly. The government built a school and a health centre. The people brought in goats, donkeys, horses and dogs. The native animals stayed away from so many people grouped together. But hunting was done by horse, which made it easier. Small garden plots were set up, to compensate for the wearing out of the soil for the wild foods.
In the years 1970 en 1980 the number of native animals was dramatically reduced, because of an outbreak of foot and mouth disease. Fences were placed around the CKGR to spread it farther. The government limited the hunting rights of the Bushmen. Then the government began to lure the Bushmen away from the reserve with attractive promises. Three resettlement camps were established outside the reserve (New Xade, Kaudwane and Xere). However, these promises were not or partially fulfilled. Some people returned home to the reserve, because they missed their lifestyle and had not been able to adapt to the modern life outside. In the resettlement camps they became bored, addicted to alcohol and became infected with AIDS/ Hiv.
Around 1980 diamonds were found in Botswana, also near Gope in the CKGR.
On January 31, 2002 (summer, when the temperature can be over 40 C) the army and police went into the CKGR and closed the borehole in Mothomelo (the only one in the CKGR), emptied the Bushmen's water containers and destroyed the containers. The people were allowed to travel with the army and police vehicles to New Xade or Kaudwane. They had to sign a form, saying they went voluntary. Xade was closed. A few people stayed. One of them later died of hunger and dehydration.
After a while many went back in the rainy seasons. The relocations were repeated in 2005 and again people returned.
A permit for diamond mining in Gope was granted. In the Environmental Impact Assesment, document on Noise, it is stated that now most people have left the CKGR there is no need to make allowances for them as noise levels are concerned. However, a complaint line would be opened up. But how are people going to complain if they have no telephone reception or transport possibilities to get to the complaint's point? How to explain to the animals their right to complain?
In a lawsuit by the Bushmen against the government to recover their land the High Court decided in December 2006 that the relocations had been unjustified. The borehole in Mothomelo could still not be used, neither new ones drilled. On January 27 2011 the Supreme Court ruled that this borehole can be reopened and that new ones can be drilled. The costs for these are for the Bushmen. The government has reported to agree with the outcome.
Minorities at Risk Project, Chronology for San Bushmen in Botswana, 2004