Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Bushmen Win!!

Excellent news indeed. The Bushmen who were being thrown off their land to make way for a new diamond mine (although everyone has strenuously denied that this was to be the reason) have actually won their case in Botswana's High Court.

Botswana's High Court ruled on Wednesday that hundreds of Bushmen had been wrongly evicted from ancestral hunting grounds in the Kalahari desert and should be allowed to return.

The court ruled 2-1 for the Bushmen in the key issues of the case, which saw Africa's last hunter gatherers take on one of the continent's most admired governments in a dispute over diamond rich land and development priorities.

Judge Mpaphi Phumaphi, who delivered the swing vote in the case, said Botswana had been wrong to force the Bushmen out of the Kalahari reserve by cutting off their livelihood.

How excellent to see that some countries still abide by the rule of law, so unlike our own European Union.

"In 2002 they were dispossessed forcibly, unlawfully, and without their consent," she said.

The Bushmen say their way of life was being wiped out as they were re-settled into bleak camps where they were unable to use their traditional hunting skills.

Botswana argued that western activists, who have won the backing of South African anti-apartheid hero Desmond Tutu and British actress Julie Christie, have romanticized a Bushmen lifestyle that vanished long ago.

It says the Basarwa, also known as the San, are a danger to wildlife and that the Kalahari reserve is a poverty trap which stops the San integrating into society and denies them access to healthcare and education.

All of that may well be true but it's their right to live as they wish upon their own land. That's just what freedom and liberty mean.

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