NEWS 2005


Mining industry's undercover stints.

... and concerning WIMSA, the voices of several bushman tribes say:


I cant understand why IPACC and WIMSA and SASI for all the years was not interest in the /XAM people. Even today they do not recognize the /XAM people, though every day there are /Xam people coming forward.


NGO alleges blood diamonds and genocide

By: Jim Jones
Posted: '03-NOV-05 09:03' GMT © Mineweb 1997-2004


JOHANNESBURG ( -- Heaven help indigenous people and emerging economies when the chattering classes get the bit between their teeth. In England this past weekend the Sunday Telegraph, a “serious” Sunday newspaper, carried an article planted by the NGO Survival International, essentially claiming that the government of Botswana had embarked on what amounted to genocide by forced removals from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve of Khoi San people, specifically the Bosawra or people colloquially stereotyped as bushmen.

It is seen by many in the suburban middle classes as a compelling story, particularly when it is accompanied by allegations that the relocations are a prelude to diamond mining in an eco-system that is very fragile.

Compelling but, to my mind and from my knowledge of the area, a story that is completely false.

The Central Kalahari, which is about the size of Wales, was declared a nature reserve nearly half a century ago, reserved for animals and a few hundred Bosawra who then lived by hunting by traditional means – on foot with bows and arrows. Tourists are not allowed in – I know, I have tried unsuccessfully several times. Some mining companies have looked at parts of the vast, arid area. But, apart from a sub-economic diamond deposit called Gope, nothing worthwhile has ever been found. Nor, given current restrictions, is anything likely to disturb the great herds of zebra, eland, red hartebeest and wildebeest that roam the flat landscape.

Botswana does not want to see its game going the same way as the passenger pigeon or having to be salvaged like the buffaloes that were hunted to near extinction on the plains of North America.

As another example, there is Botswana’s Moremi Wildlife Reserve, part of the Okavango Delta, donated forty years ago by a local chief in perpetuity as a wildlife preserve with carefully controlled access for visitors. That is the way people think in this remote part of the world.

Do I sound like a starry-eyed romantic? Truth is that, unlike some of the interfering do-gooders of Survival International, I have travelled far and wide across Botswana, particularly, into the remote Khutse reserve immediately to the south of and forming part of the Central Kalahari. I know the place and I have seen how people live there.

So why is Survival International on its high horse? Is it hoping that its scare stories will result in donations from the general run of models and pop stars who are dedicated followers of fashion and whose reputations would be shattered if they were seen in natural furs or wearing gems that might contentiously be tagged as “blood diamonds”?

One prominent person who has been in the Central Kalahari is Britain’s heir to the throne, prince Charles – one of the world’s better-known tree huggers. And I haven’t noticed him shouting is mouth off.

Neither De Beers nor the Botswana government has any intention of mining diamonds in the Central Kalahari, they have given their solemn word on the matter. And though I carry a torch for neither of them, I do believe what they say in this case. Sure, my standpoint is likely to be criticised because De Beers is at present an advertiser on Mineweb. Ask yourself, did that make any difference when I have previously laid into the company’s top management?

Yes, Bosawra have been relocated into settlements outside the Central Kalahari – voluntarily to settlements in similar country and with the means, the tools and the livestock on which most now base their sedentary lifestyles. Some, a very few, took the opportunity and just as promptly headed back in to hunt with rifles mounted on 4X4s. Hunting is allowed, but by Bosawra using their traditional methods.

But on the whole resettlement merely confirms the way in which most Bosawra have chosen to live – settled rather than as the hunter gatherers idealised by some of the chattering classes.

Why the fuss? De Beers is all too well aware of the risks posed by “blood diamonds”. That is why it set up the Kimberley Process that guarantees that the diamond one buys on Fifth Avenue or Bond Street did not come from the sweat of forced labour in some benighted, war-torn banana republic. This is a serious business which has learned from the fur trade what can happen when environmental awareness overwhelms a fashion for luxury goods.

But this is a digression, perhaps.

The Khoi San, few though they might be and far though they might be from Hampstead or Darien, Connecticut, are not without their voice. One such organisation is WIMSA (Working Group of Indigenous Minorities of Southern Africa), which has bluntly told Survival International to butt out. WIMSA claims reasonably that it reflects the opinions of the Khoi San and that they do not want or need the intervention of a bunch of interfering foreign do-gooders.

Who’s right and who’s wrong? That is for others to decide. I have no doubt that a squawk will go up from Survival International over this article. Well, it has had its say, and it is entitled to make its point public. But it might be better advised to follow the example of other organisations and work practically with the people it says it feels for.

This is what one might call my right to reply.