Thursday, November 10, 2005

Diamonds Aren't A Bushmen's Friend

Well, we get to witness a milestone. My parents were alive when the first man set foot on the moon. I will witness the last nomad's free footprint in Africa.

The Bushmen of the Kalahari, also known as the San people, have roamed Southern Africa for at least 30,000 years, perhaps as long as 100,000. Today, most of the 50,000 San have been relocated to 63 towns. According to a BBC report I heard about an hour ago, less than 30 Bushmen remain on the Kalahari Game Reserve, an area about the size of Denmark.

Water pumps have been dismantled, hunting privileges have been revoked and, allegedly, some have been forcibly relocated at gunpoint. Within the year, if not the week, the last hunter/gatherers in Africa will be no more.

The government of Botswana claims shock at world reaction. They claim they are doing what they think is best for the San, modernizing them. The government must be crazy, or maybe just greedy. The region is blessed with rich mineral deposits and apparently a wealth of diamonds. A San claim to mineral rights could cripple mining attempts.

Not sure there's much to do. Not sure why I'm writing this. Just another example of something, something I can't quite put my finger on, but I dread its loss, draining out of the world. Since the first Homo sapiens walked the earth 300,000 to 500,000 years ago (or in 1963 if you're a creationist), people have walked across Africa, have followed game and seasons and patterns that have endured since the very dawn of humanity. Maybe this week, we'll see that go.

For more info, here's the BBC, Mother Jones and Survival International, which has some more information and a petition for what it's worth. I think there will be more coming up in the next few days.


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