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Diamonds stained by blood of the Bushmen

This article is over 17 years, 3 months old
ROY SESANA, a Gana "Bushman" from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana, southern Africa, visited London last week. He came to publicise the battle against the Botswanan government and the De Beers diamond company. Through hi
Issue 1922

THOUSANDS OF Bushmen have been removed from the lands where they have lived for many generations and taken to resettlement camps.

There is no development—only a plan to kill the culture of the Bushmen and to clear the lands for the diamond companies, especially De Beers.

We have been torn away from our land so that these companies can mine it.

In the camps there is sorrow.

People are taken up with alcohol, and there is unemployment and prostitution. You will not find a Bushman nurse or a Bushman official. We were promised that our lives would improve, but they have got much worse.

We are not even allowed to bury our dead people in the ancestral lands. Instead we must bury them near the resettlement camps.

This is very hard for us, because we think it is important to live near where our ancestors are buried. We are prevented from going back to our homes, or hunting and gathering there.

My brother is one of those who has been killed fighting for the rights of our people.

Four years ago he died after beatings and torture from officials.

Before we were moved, our people lived to old ages. Now there are new diseases, and the death rate in the camps is high.

We want to go home, and to choose and control our own fate.

Life changes, but we want to control what happens—to decide for ourselves if mines should be dug and what should happen to the wealth.

Stephen Corry, the director of Survival International which organised the Bushmen’s visit, adds:

THERE ARE parallels with the aboriginal people of Australia or the native people of North America.

Groups are torn from their roots and left broken, leading to suicide and ill health at fearsome rates.

We believe diamonds are central to what has happened.

The managing director of Debswana (De Beers Botswana) welcomed the eviction of the Bushmen.

Most of the directors of Debswana are senior political figures. A diamond deposit was discovered in the reserve in the 1980s, but a formal evaluation of the mine did not take place until 1996.

The first forced evictions started in May the following year.

A Bushman community, Xade, which was equipped with a school, clinic and borehole for water was completely removed.

In 2002 further enforced evictions occurred. Government officials destroyed another water borehole, forbade all hunting and gathering, and emptied all the Bushmen’s stocks of water.

Maps from the government’s official sources show a dramatic increase in diamond exploration concessions since the evictions.

The British government has been worse than useless over the Bushmen’s situation.

A number of parliamentary delegations have visited the area, but the authorities have carefully directed them all so they only meet selected people.

When Glenys Kinnock went as part of a European delegation she did ask to meet Roy Sesana. This was refused. She said she would meet him later, but she never made contact.

We want people to protest. Allow the Bushmen to return to their lands.

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