prize for a noble people
In the Swedish Parliament on
Friday an international jury presented a Right Livelihood Award (known as the
"Alternative Nobel Prize") to Roy Sesana, a Kalahari bushman who has
been leading his people's fight for the right to stay in the reserve that is
their ancestral homeland.
In recent months, the Botswanan
government, supported by the EU and the Foreign Office, has stepped up its
drive, using force and torture, to evict the last bushmen from the reserve and
to herd them into the unspeakable settlement that they call "the place of
On his way to Stockholm I met Mr
Sesana with members of the staff of Survival International, the organisation
that has fought so tirelessly to bring this tragedy to the world's attention.
I first met him in 1996 - the year that the Botswanan government launched its
forcible eviction policy - with that great champion of the bushmen, Laurens
van der Post.
As the leader of the First People
of the Kalahari, Mr Sesana has matured into an impressive figure: wise, strong
and humorous (with a playful gift for mimicry) but passionately eloquent about
the plight of his people. I asked him, if they were free to go back to their
traditional way of life, how many would return. "Many hundreds," he
That the British Government is
prepared to act as an apologist for this flouting of a constitutional
guarantee, which was given to the bushmen when Botswana gained independence
from Britain in 1966, is a cause for deep shame.