Botswana Government To Eliminate Services to Kalahari San

Earlier this week the government of Botswana confirmed that the provision of water and other essential services to 600 or more Gana and Gwi tribal members currently residing in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve will be cut off by the end of January. According to many sources, this decision is the latest in the government’s efforts to remove the indigenous bands from their ancestral homelands in order to further develop the tourism and diamond mining industries in the area. The South African government claims the decision is due to the high cost of delivering social and support services to the reserve. Local Government Deputy Gladys Kokorwe has stated that “the Basarwa must relocate to places of their choice where it would be cost-effective to provide them with services,” and warned the indigenous populations to “seriously weigh the advantages of staying in the reserve where there was no future for them or their children.”

The various San tribes of the Kalahari region have lived in the area for over 20,000 years. Decades of discrimination, oppression and forced assimilation by colonial and state governments as well as by hostile neighboring ethnic groups, have changed the traditional hunting and gathering lifestyle of the San and diminished their populations from a total of several million to around 100,000 individuals today. However it is only in recent years following the government’s involuntary resettlement schemes that San face the imminent threat of cultural extinction.