Quotations from Gana and Gwi Bushmen about their land, torture and relocation

 

Quotations from Gana and Gwi Bushmen about their land, torture and relocation

1999-01-01

Source: Survival International

Quotations from Gana and Gwi Bushmen about their land, torture and relocation

More on the Bushmen at: http://www.survival-international.org/bushman.htm

"The lives of our people are not free. It is terrible not to be free. In the rest of Botswana people live in peace and harmony but not in this corner, the central corner of the Kalahari Game Reserve."
- Bushman, January 2002

I do not want this place. It is foreign to me. My land is in there [the reserve]. I would rather die there than live here.
Bushman, New Xade, May 2002

I don't care about infrastructure. What I miss is the land. It was our original land.
Gakebarate Thankane, April 2002

We want to live in our land and to choose the way we want to live.
Roy Sesana, April 2002

I am feeling very sad. We were created by God on the land of our fathers and their forefathers � it is our ancestral home. The government has treated us unfairly. We were not given any choice about moving out.
Molatlhwe Mokakale, April 2002

Now we have to leave our graveyards and go. The government sees no problem with taking us out of our ancestral lands and putting us somewhere else. Our Bushman culture and our social living is destroyed, there is no respect for any of those things, there is no democracy for us.
Roy Sesana, October 2001

The government said I must leave Molapo because there's eland here, diamonds here and other things here. I think the government tells me to leave so others will enjoy the riches of this land. But I'm going to stay because those things are mine, not the government's.
Gakeitsiwe Gaorapelwe, Molapo, October 2001

This place is not for the wildlife department. It is my father's father's father's land.
Bushman woman, Molapo, October 2001

What I can say is that this is my place. Now the wildlife department and the government say we must go out, I don't know why. I was born here and my parents were born here. This is my place and I can't go anywhere.
Bushman woman, Molapo, October 2001

We said that we didn't want to abandon our culture here and go elsewhere. This is our ancestral land, why should we leave it and go elsewhere? If we agreed to relocation, would the government provide us with our natural resources and with our culture and heritage, which we have here?

We know this land belonged to our great grandparents � we have their burial sites here. But now, just because we are the Bushmen, it seems that our land is being taken from us. Just because we are Bushmen and we can't stand up for our land. We think it is because we are Bushmen. We don't see it happening to other peoples, only to the Bushman communities.
Tlhalefang Galetshipe, January 2001

Quotations from Gana and Gwi Bushmen about torture

In August 2000, officials from the wildlife department and local police department in Rakops, a town in eastern Botswana, entered the Bushman village of Molapo, in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. The officers said that Bushmen had been 'over-hunting' or hunting animals which are not included on the 'special game licences' which they now need to hunt at all. Around 20 men and four women were pushed around and hit; some of the men (including one too old to hunt) were then taken into the bush near Molapo and interrogated over a three to six day period until some said they had killed eland and/or giraffe. The links below are to some of the statements made to Survival by the Bushman men and women involved. (Please note that names are not given, as the speakers generally feel safer remaining anonymous.)

Quotations from Gana and Gwi Bushmen about relocations

(Please note that where names are not given it is because the speakers feel safer remaining anonymous.)

Note from Survival International: Forcible relocations took place in 1997 and 1998. Many Bushman families then tried to return, but faced difficulties in doing so. After the relocations stopped, the government continued to pressure and intimidate people into relocating. In early 2002, pressure intensified, and almost all those left in the reserve were driven from their homes.

I am feeling very sad. We were created by God on the land of our fathers and their forefathers � it is our ancestral home. The government has treated us unfairly. We were not given any choice about moving out.
Molatlhwe Mokakale, April 2002

It's our first experience of life outside the reserve and we feel like fish who have been taken out of the river. The government knows our culture very well, they know we must be able to communicate with our ancestors. Making us leave the place of our forefathers' graves is a form of oppression.
Khumanego Phethadipuo, April 2002

We didn't want to come here. Government officials told us to go. They said we would get no water if we stayed. The life here is very difficult. [In the reserve] we could gather wild fruits. There is nothing like that here.
Philatwe Lentodi, April 2002

I could not have survived [in Molapo] because they failed to give me water... I didn't like to leave it, but only [left] because I've been defeated and moved out.
Galotshaba Goitsoimodimo, February 2002

We don't understand how we have come to this place. We did not get inside the truck voluntarily. We were told to get inside the truck.
Gaema, February 2002

We are being forced. We are being oppressed. We are being made to relocate by force.
Xhaitshoda Keemetswe, February 2002

People are frightened. The government is saying it will cut off all supplies. My sister is leaving, and my mother and father are emotionally sick because of what is happening... They say the army is coming in.
Xlaexlan Gakelekgolele, January 2002

They have been trying to get us out since 1996. Now they are stopping our water and rations, to drive us out.
Mathambo Ngakaeaja, January 2002

Families want to come back to the reserve. But the only problem is the water, because people when they start thinking of going where there is no water, they start thinking of something else. They themselves would like to be staying in the reserve, the only problem is water.
Bushman, October 2001

We were in New Xade [resettlement camp], and came back. It was because we thought of this coal, the coal of our ancestral land. It used to be our clinics and hospitals. When our children were sick, we would tie it round their necks, and cure them. This was done at the site of the graves of our ancestors.

The government is still trying to pressure us to relocate. They have no meetings, but they come and register people for relocation.

We had some problems returning. The police kept coming to check on us as we were on our way, and brought local police with them. They kept counting us, and counting our goats and donkeys.

People come and try to encourage us to relocate, and people have registered. Those of us who have come back from New Xade and Khaudwane [the resettlement camps] felt like we were being cooked in a pot, we were trapped and couldn't get out. When we tried to leave, they said 'You are going to kill a giraffe, or an eland.' Life was bad in the new villages.
Molatlhwe Mokakale, January 2001

Nobody from the government came here to say why they wanted to move us. Nobody consulted us. They know nothing about development. They have to come and make development here.
Jakelakgolele Gaoderekwe, February 1999

We were loaded onto big trucks with all our domestic animals. Our donkeys and livestock were stolen. We were told we would be given cattle but we weren't. We were told our children would go to school but they ran away because they were beaten. It was a difficult place to stay. A social worker came and said there will be no monthly ration unless we are in New Xade [the resettlement camp]. I told her 'I don't care for your mealie meal, I will survive with roots.' Some of my relatives were stabbed in New Xade. The teachers beat the children. The department of wildlife and the local and central police followed us as far as Old Xade when we went back home.
Kaitsotla Kermetsroe (who had returned from New Xade to Mothomelo), February 1999

A sick old woman was loaded onto a truck and she died on the way to Khaudwane. We tried to follow up as to why she was put in the back of the truck with the wood of the dismantled huts. After the relocation, Mr Moeti, the Bushman councillor from Metsiamanong followed it up. We raised it with Minister Nasha [minister of Local Government, whose department orchestrated relocations and the recent cutting of services] in the New Xade meeting and she took it politically and criticised him.
Dingongorego Mokweneng, February 1999

From the beginning of the removal we weren't consulted. The vehicle came to say we had to be relocated. Before the removal I was not in Gope and I returned to find that my family had been moved here. They were told they had to move and no reason was given.
Motoiwa Mopogami (speaking in Khaudwane resettlement camp), February 1999

We are not happy here and life is difficult... We need the chance to go back freely without disturbance. It's like being a prisoner here. We are treated like prisoners.
Tshekelo Mogoladijo (speaking in New Xade resettlement camp), January 1999