Extermination of the Bushmen

Bushman woman contemplates their future.
Bushman woman contemplates their future.
Bushman hut
Bushman hut
Making and selling traditional Bushmen Crafts is the only way some can still survive.
Making and selling traditional Bushmen Crafts is the only way some can still survive.
Bushmen in the village in Gope, Botswana.
Bushmen in the village in Gope, Botswana.
Bushmen still try and live the way they lived 10 000 years ago, but fences are restricting them.
Bushmen still try to live the way they lived 10 000 years ago, but fences are restricting them.
Bushmen still hunt the traditional way.
Bushmen still hunt the traditional way.
Bushman woman carrying water
Bushman woman carrying water
Bushmen paintings are found on rocks and in caves throughout Southern Africa, which shows that they originally occupied the whole region.
Bushmen paintings are found on rocks and in caves throughout Southern Africa, which shows that they originally occupied the whole region.
Bushmen children playing, seemingly unaware of the drama surrounding their future.
Bushmen children playing, seemingly unaware of the drama surrounding their future.

Who are the Bushmen?

The Bushmen, or San, were forever immortalised in the Jamie Uys movie and it's sequel, the 'God's must be Crazy'. People all over the world fell in love with the little man wearing only a loincloth who spoke in clicks and had a coke bottle fall on his head. There are 100,000 Bushmen left in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Angola. They are the indigenous people of southern Africa, and have lived there for tens of thousands of years. One can see the evidence in the numerous rock paintings seen all over Southern Africa on mountains and in caves.

In South Africa, the Bushmen were hunted and killed by Nguni Tribes moving south in search of new grazing. The Nguni tribes like the Zulu and the Xhosa, originally came from central Africa and are not indigenous to South Africa. The poor Bushmen, used to living by hunting found the Nguni people's cattle very easy to 'hunt' and this obviously upset the Nguni people, and they retaliated by hunting the Bushmen. As the Bushmen fled the advancing Nguni tribes, they met the European trekkers and farmers moving north, also in search of grazing. The Bushmen hunted the European's cattle and oxen which they didn't take lightly either. Bushmen hunting parties were organised. Both the Nguni tribes and the Europeans, did not view the Bushmen as being human beings. They thought they were animals, something like the missing link. This forced the Bushmen to move into and adapt to the dry, more desert-like areas, of Southern Africa.

In the middle of Botswana lies the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, a reserve created to protect the traditional territory of the 5,000 Gana, Gwi and Tsila Bushmen (and their neighbours the Bakgalagadi), and the game (wild animals not a sports game) they depend on. In the early 1980s, diamonds were discovered in the reserve. Soon after, government ministers went into the reserve to tell the Bushmen living there that they would have to leave because of the diamond finds. In three big clearances, in 1997, 2002 and 2005, virtually all the Bushmen were forced out. Some tried to return and were tortured. Their homes were dismantled, their school and health post were closed, their water supply was destroyed and the people were threatened and trucked away.

The Botswana Government forcibly moved the Bushmen to resettlement camps outside the reserve. They have been banned from hunting, their only source of meat, and are arrested and beaten when they do. With nothing to do, they are now gripped by alcoholism, boredom, depression, and illnesses such as TB and HIV/AIDS. Farmers won't employ them as they are not strong enough to do manual labour tasks. They can't do other jobs as they have no education. The Bushmen don't have the same work ethic we have. If they are tired, they will just go and sleep under a tree. They don't stick to conventional work hours and if they are not in the mood to work, they don't. This makes them quite unemployable. Most survive by making crafts and selling them to missionaries for food and supplies. When I visited a Bushmen village in Botswana, I was aghast at some disease many children suffer because of the poor diet they are now forced to have. Many children have strange patches on their heads, rather like mange on a dog.

In the Gope area of the Central Kalahari in Botswana, the Bushmen have many ancestral graves. Unless they can return to their ancestral lands, their unique societies and way of life will be destroyed, and many of them will die.

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The Extermination

In the Gope area in Botswana, where diamonds have been found, Bushmen have been living there for generations. Many alive today were born there. Moloreng Balane, born in 1923, recalls, ‘I was born in Gope and my grandparents originated and died there.’ Many Bushmen from Gope recall when the first prospectors arrived. Segoko says, ‘When the mine started, we used to see aeroplanes, which frightened us. Then we saw lots of cars. This whole area, including on the spot where the mine shaft is, was inhabited by Bushman people who fled.’ This information was obtained from Survival International, who have been working really hard to try and save the Bushmen.

Although the Bushmen or San people lived peacefully for thousands of years, they have a history of being hunted and killed. Other African Tribes hunted them and killed them when the Bushmen hunted their cattle. European farmers would organise Bushmen Hunting parties for an afternoon's sport. In Namibia, when it was still German South West Africa, German missionaries and farmers hunted Bushmen regularly. The Bushmen didn't seem to understand ownership. If an animal or crops to pick was available and in their sights, they would take it. In their culture, there is no ownership. Everything belongs to everybody. This didn't sit well with the intruders who came to colonise their land.

In recent years, Bushmen were used by the South African Army as trackers during the Bush War of the seventies, South Africa's own version of the Vietnam War, when they were trying to rid the world of SWAPO and the communist government in Angola. Many young men were killed in that war, and when the war was over, their was nothing for the Bushmen trackers, so they returned home, back to their old way of life.

In Botswana, the government forcibly removed whole Bushmen villages, loading people onto the back of cattle trucks by gunpoint, and moving them to resettlement areas where they could no longer hunt and live as they want. Many Bushmen tried to return to their villages. Some were tortured by being tied to barbed wire fences and left to die. Others were tied to the backs of pick-up trucks and dragged along the hard stony ground. Many just went missing. Waterholes were destroyed so they couldn't get water and died of thirst. Their goats were taken, supposedly put in quarantine, so they had nothing to eat. Schools were closed so their children couldn't get an education. Life for the Bushmen became very grim.  Read some of their stories and messages to the world, at I want to go home.

A Botswana government minister was reported as saying that the Botswana government does not murder people.  They are not murderers.  She then added that the Bushmen were not people, they were animals.  Therefore, we can deduce that the Botswana government thought it was culling animals, rather than exterminating people.

The Bushmen people in Botswana did what any self-respecting person would do.  With the help and sponsorship of Survival International, they sued the Botswana Government and took them to court.


The Court Case

In 2002 the Bushmen made a huge decision and took the government to court. They wanted the court to rule that their eviction was illegal. Corruption rules in Africa, and Botswana is not an exception.  Due to procedural wrangling and delaying tactics by the government while they tried to quickly exterminate and torture more Bushmen, evidence did not start to be heard until 2004.

Although the Bushmen are Botswana’s poorest citizens, the case became the longest and most expensive in the country’s history. Different organisations raised money to help fund the court case for the Bushmen.  Eventually, 239 Bushman adults put their names to the case, and and as the momentum and publicity around the court case built, another 135 adults asked to be added to it. Together with their children, they represented around 1,000 people. (Of the original 239 Bushmen who initiated the lawsuit, 12% died awaiting justice.)

While the case continued, many Bushmen tried to return to their homeland in the reserve. The government brought in armed officials to prevent them from returning home.  Those that made it home, were evicted again by the government, some of them for the third time. In a cunning move by the governemnt, the key clause protecting Bushman rights in Botswana’s constitution was removed by the government during the court case, effectively removing all protection and rights the Bushmen might have had.  During this time, the world did nothing to help the Bushmen.

On 13 December 2006 the Bushmen won a landmark historic victory. After all the evidence and testimonies presented to the court, the judges ruled that their eviction by the government was ‘unlawful and unconstitutional’, and that they have the right to live inside the reserve, on their ancestral land.  The court also ruled that the Bushmen have the right to hunt and gather in the reserve, and that they should not have to apply for special hunting permits to enter ithe reserve and live and hunt there.

The story should have a happy ending, but it doesn't.  With their backs against the wall and international media representatives present, the Botswana government quickly announced that it would not appeal the judgment.  It appeared that the Bushmen had won, but it proved to be a hollow victory.  The Botswana government has since done everything within its power to obstruct the judgement, and prevent the Bushmen from going home.it

The Botswana Government has BANNED the Bushmen from using their water borehole or drilling new ones,  They have REFUSED to issue a single permit to hunt on their land (despite Botswana’s High Court ruling in December that its refusal to issue permits was unlawful),  So, any Bushmen caught hunting are arrested and imprisoned.  In fact, more than  50 Bushmen have already been arrested for hunting to feed their families,  Another clever new regulation the Botswana Government came up with in reaction to the court ruling, was banning ALL domestic livestock from being kept on the reserve.  This means that the Bushmen will not be able to take their goats there.  Another rule, was that no permanent structures were allowed to be built, and no schools.  Basically, the Bushmen were stuffed.  They had won but could do nothing with their victory.  It's clear that the Botswana Government's policy is to intimidate and frighten the Bushmen into staying in the resettlement camps, and making the lives of those who have gone back to their ancestral land impossible.


 

Diamond mine in Botswana
Diamond mine in Botswana
Opencast diamond mining in Botswana
Opencast diamond mining in Botswana
Hoodia flower
Hoodia flower
The Hoodia plant is a type of cactus.
The Hoodia plant is a type of cactus.
Uranium mine in Namibia.
Uranium mine in Namibia.

Greed and corruption


Is there a mine at Gope?  Not at the moment. Although De Beers operated a prospecting mine shaft there for some years, it has been dismantled. Because of all the negative publicity from the Bushmen Campaign by Survival International, in May 2007 De Beers sold its deposit at Gope to Gem Diamonds, for $34 million.  Although De Beers had repeatedly claimed that the find was 'sub-economic', Gem Diamonds has stated publicly that it contains more than $2.2 billion-worth of diamonds, and they planned to develop a mine at Gope as quickly as possible.  However, De Beers and Gem are not the only mining companies looking for diamonds in the Gope area.  Petra Diamonds is also drilling there.  Since the whole hullaballoo started in 2002, the Botswana government has granted 112 mining licenses for mining companies to explore in the Central Kalahari reserve. 16 licenses have been awarded for uranium exploration and 40 for coal.


In South Africa, Bushmen are in danger because of the discovery of the appetite suppressing properties of Hoodia, a plant used by the Bushmen to suppress their appetites for thousands of years.  It's how they are able to go long periods without food in extremely harsh conditions.  The research process was not easy; in fact, it took 30 years to detect the ingredient responsible for suppressing appetites in this plant. When it was found, the ingredient was immediately patented and the license was given to Phytopharm.

Further 20 million dollars was spent on different trials and overweight volunteers, with all trials ending with unexpectedly high success. The people taking Hoodia and consuming it regularly ate about 1,000 calories less per day than those from the group that carried on their normal life. By the way, on average, the amount of calories consumed by an American man is 2,600; women consume about 1,900 calories a day.  If taken on a daily basis, Hoodia plant reduces your craving for food. 

The Bushmen were amazed when they first heard about Hoodia having been patented from the news. 
Lawyers anxious to jump on the bandwagon, have written a number of letters in order to help the Bushmen receive fair compensation. This population has been ruthlessly exploited for hundreds of years: first by black tribes of Africa, later - by white people who came to colonize Africa.
Lawyers on both sides finally came to an agreement. The South Africa Bushmen will get some part of the profit made.

If you're anxious to buy some Hoodia to lose weight, don't rush off to the Pharmacy just yet.  It is impossible to make Hoodia into a pill form, so it'll be made into health bars and shakes.  To do this, huge plantations of Hoodia will have to be grown commercially in the Bushmen hunting grounds.

In Namibia, the Bushmen living there are also going through some hard times. A Canadian company was granted exclusive uranium-prospecting licenses in two ecologically very sensitive nature reserves in Namibia in the Namib Naukluft Park. The local Bushmen tribal chief has warned that mining would destroy their desert homeland. The Namib Naukluft Park is one of the largest national parks in Africa, covering much of the central Namib Desert and the Naukluft (Narrow Canyon in German) Mountains. It is home to some of the rarest and weirdest plant -and animal species in the world, including the Welwitschia Mirabilis, large lichen fields and Hartmann's Mountain Zebra - and also is home to the last surviving remnants of southern Africa's First Nation, the Bushmen or San People.  Only 20% of the desert might be saved after mining and Namibia is Africa's top uranium producer.
Uranium is used for nuclear-energy generation. Canada is now a superpower in the African mining sector.

Watch the movies!

What now?

Gem Diamonds have put the opening of the diamond mine at Gope on hold because of the current recession.  However, the Bushmen are still being arrested for trying to go home, water holes are still closed, and they are still forbidden to hunt in the Central Kalahari Reserve.

As people become more obese, natural weight-loss remedies are going to be more in demand.  Bushmen hunting grounds where Hoodia grows will become commercial ventures.  What will happen to their way of life?

As the world turns to nuclear energy, uranium will be in more and more demand.  Another Bushmen hunting ground will be wiped out.

Really, when greed comes into play, you usually get corruption.  And, someone has to be the victim.  In this case, it is the Bushmen, the endangered First People of Southern Africa.

Bushmen in Botswana

The God's must be Crazy

Comments 49 comments

bill yon profile image

bill yon 7 years ago from sourcewall

killing people in the name of progress and profit,take over the bushmen's land all so some fat person can loose weight with out exercising.


Candie V profile image

Candie V 7 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

A very proud people, indeed! You have given a voice to people who have none. Thank you Cindy, you have a great heart and I appreciate you!


trooper22 profile image

trooper22 7 years ago from Chicago

What people will do to their fellows over a few pieces of carbon is amazing. Rome, and Roman Greed will kill us all, and I am not so sure our specie deserves to survive in light of our current stupidity. I think Gaia will heave a great sigh of relief once we are gone, and say to herself; "What the hell was I thinking!?"


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 7 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida

This is very sad and incredible to believe, but I am sure it is all so true. It is also very similar to what our American Indians had to go through, by being forced from their native homeland on the Trail of Tears. Though this is a just one sad part of our history, that we allow it to be our present, too, by not speaking up on behalf of the Bushmen, is just shameful. Thank you for spreading the world.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 7 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

How sad! How depressing! We have so much to answer for.


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

How sad but unsurprising. Peoples such as Maoris and aboriginies have all lost out at the hand of the greedy invader of their countries


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

Seem to have posted twice so I will just add that your hub is an excellent creation


Jerilee Wei profile image

Jerilee Wei 7 years ago from United States

Very thought provoking and made me think how this kind of awful history repeats itself all over the world, generation after generation -- where greed transcends human decency. Hoping that you'll write more about your home country as few Americans know much about it and it's issues. I think yours could be the right voice.


Tatjana-Mihaela profile image

Tatjana-Mihaela 7 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA

Great article and very sad story.Modern "civilisation" is very cruel to people who want to live on the way which does not any harm to the nature.

Thumbs up, Cindy.


Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 7 years ago from St. Louis

It is shame what has happened to the Bushmen. Societies have disappeared since time began, however. If you can't change with the times - or adapt - you will become extinct. I agree that it would be nice to help them, the same way we try to help vanishing animal species, but often it doesn't work out. Look at what we did to the American Indian.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

THANKS FOR ALL THE COMMENTS GUYS. Oops, capslock was on. I realise that people do have to adapt with progress, but what about a people who are unable to adapt as is the case here? I have to think, the Kruger National Park in South Africa is bigger than the whole of Ireland, and that's to preserve wild animals. Surely, the Bushmen deserve more than the animals? There must be place in the world for them and their way of life. Big businesses and governments are more concerned about the money than the people they are killing to get it.


blondepoet profile image

blondepoet 7 years ago from australia

Another great article Cindy, I have just come from the forums and seen what is happening to children considered to be witches in Nigeria, and am totally in shock. Wow how have you managed all this writing? You are amazing!!! (hugs)xo


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Hi Blonde, been working on this article for about 3 weeks, so just polished it off and finished it in between organising all kinds of stuff. Dropped my son off this morning for him to start his adult life. I didn't feel sad which I thought I would, but more nervous for him. Witches in Nigeria? There are many bad things happening in this world!


Am I dead, yet? 7 years ago

Cindy, this story is truly amazing. I am definitely linking your hub to my blog. This is such a sad reality of what greed has done to a native people. Everyone should be more aware of this!!!! Tragic! Ovations, Cindy. Very well done!


blondepoet profile image

blondepoet 7 years ago from australia

http://hubpages.com/forum/topic/16560?page=7#post2...

That is where the story is Cindy that started with the documentary about the abuse of children classed as witches began posted by Eric G


blondepoet profile image

blondepoet 7 years ago from australia

There sure are bad things happening, it just gets worse and worse. :(


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

AIDY, thanks for linking the hub to your blog as hopegully, then more people will get to hear about the plight of the Bushmen.

Blonde, Fierycj said that he lives near where the witch burnings are reportedly happenening, and he says there's nothing like that happening! Sometimes, the media does blow up things a bit and create drama. However, this Bushmen stuff is all well-documented, and I did go there when I was in Botswana and see how they are forced to live with my own eyes. My youngest daughter was born in Botswana.


shamelabboush profile image

shamelabboush 7 years ago

Excellently and well research topic that could be somewhat an

Encyclopedia . I've never known those facts before, and the thought that they've been tortured is really sad. They are human beings and they have the right to live decently like any other nation!

Thanks cindy.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Thanks Shamel, sometimes Hubpages is a good forum to raise awareness of pertinent issues!


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

What a very sad story - poor sods.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Yeah LG, they just haven't been able to adapt to the 21st Century!


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 7 years ago from South Africa

Great Hub, Cindy. Thanks for all the info and well-researched.

Love and peace

Tony


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Thanks Tony! I'm loving Cape Town and Hermanus at the moment, and currently working on a hub about AIDS and another on circumcision as it's been in the news!


Allan 7 years ago

I have been trying for years to do something practical and sustainable for the San, particularly those of Platfontein.Response? Apathy and disinterest. This culture is dying and we will one day read about it like the Incas and the Aztecs


Drew Breezzy profile image

Drew Breezzy 7 years ago from somewhere in my mind

The treatment of the bushmen is tragic. I think the extremity of conflicts in Africa revel a lot about human nature. Often motivated by power and greed, people show they will put their best interests over the lifes of others.

Africa as a whole deals with much injustice such as the ignored genocide in Darfur.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Yeah Drew, unfortunately, the eradication of tribes such as the Bushmen are a by-product of colonialism. Many people aren't too concerned if whole tribes of people die out. I suppose, it doesn't seem real to them as it doesn't have an impact on their lives. You can still go down to KFC, fill your car up at Mobil, and buy groceries at Walmart. Whether or not people such as the Bushmen are still around or not will not change your life, and that is the tragedy.


fierycj profile image

fierycj 7 years ago from The Fiery Heart of Africa

WHAT! Is this really happening? You know, for a people who have come so far we really do tend to take giant steps backward. Gawd, the ignorance. Well, like you said, I'm gonna believe you, you do live in South Africa. This is just terrible. I lack the words...


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Yeah Fiery, at one point the Bushmen lived all over Africa. The evidence of that is in their rock paintings they left behind. But slowly, they have been wiped out by other tribes who raise cattle, and of course urbanisation.


ixwa profile image

ixwa 7 years ago

I think it's about time we have heard from African South Africans about the assertions that they are not indigenous to the the country known as South Africa. This is one of the little known dirty secrets and lies propagated by the defunct(but still dangerous) apartheid regime and its operatives. For the whites in South Africa to make sure that they are the owners of 87 percent of land, thus claiming that the Zulu "tribes" or other groupings of the Nguni people are from up-Africa, came in and destroyed the Khoi and the San. This is far form the truth and this needs to be challenged. The Dutch Settlers enslaved and nearly wiped out the Koi whose cattle and other live-stock they acquired through crooked means. Shaka might have been responsible for the attempt to unify the clans and not 'tribes' in South Africa, but he never went as far as to murder and the San, but the Settlers made them slaves, took their livestock and land, until the British forced them to Trek inner-land. The Afrikaners, or Settlers never regarded anybody as a human being, except for their women, which through the San, Khoi, and other Nguni groups, we saw the emergence of the co-called colored population between the white settlers(who had no women in those sea-faring days) and the local, dehumanized and robed locals. It is sad that some white South Africans chose the international medium to play out and prattle about the history of Africans in South Africa, form an Apartheid Standpoint, and not from the locals point of view. I challenge the characterization of a whole people who have just emerged from one of the most horrible Regimes far worse than Hitler. I am open to debate and discussion about the History of African people, and I hope they should no more be called 'tribes' because that is demeaning and belittling. @cindyvine, I hope the re-telling of a people's history will include the views, opinions and perspective of a people about themselves, their history and their culture. There is a history, culture and point of view which needs to be told and expounded upon by the Africans in South Africa, without them having some one tell it on their behalf.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Ixwa, thanks for the time and effort you put into your comment. This article was about the San people, and is written from their perspective and point of view. It is not an article about the Nguni people in South Africa. It is not an article about the Apartheid Regime, it is an article about what is currently happening to the San people in Botswana. I fear that you have completely missed the message.


ixwa profile image

ixwa 7 years ago

No I have not. I am aware it is about the San, but I reject the usage of 'tribe", unless we have the Afrikaaner 'tribe' and the English 'tribe' within your piece. And it is historically incorrect to say that The Nguni People, which includes 'all' the nine groups in South Africa, are not the people of South Africa.. And it sounds like apartheid when you say the Nguni people are not indigenous to South Africa, that was the Apartheid dictum in retelling the African people's history in South Africa. The San were not running away from the advancing Xhosas and Zulus, but were massacred and made into slaves by the Settlers who came around 1652 AD. The people you call the Bushmen(deragotaory terms) who are the San, did not go stealing the Settlers(Europeans in your case) herds, but were reclaiming their stock stolen from them. Yes, I have a problem with your characterizing people in a very negative way. You ought to have done research with your African Compatriots before making the these nasty allusions and incorrect historical assertion about a whole people. No. I did not miss the point, and you need to make corrections in your historical narrative.

True , the article is about the San, but you are using tired language to refer to a people, who by the way, despite their faults now, are ruling the country of South Africa. So, let's show some respect here and historical correctness and honesty. Oh yes, you still refer to Africa as the Dark Continent. Either you read "The Scramble for Africa: White Man's Conquest of the Dark Continent from 1876-1912" by Thomas Pakenham the author of the Boer War. This is one of those Books I have serious problems with- what do you mean "... in the deepest, darkest Africa..." instead of Cape Town? If you are a citizen of South Africa, then you should know better than start calling it the dark Africa. This is unconscionable and seriously distorting the land and the people.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Seriously Ixwa, get over yourself and your giant chips on your shoulder. Nguni people did originate from central Africa. And, how do I know that? I am currently living and working in Tanzania and the people in Southern Tanzania are called the Nguni. In fact, words like nyama for meat are the same in Swahili, and there are many other similarities in the language and customs. So yes, I did speak and do research with African compatriots. In fact, when I was in Botswana I met with San and discussed their plight. That is why I wrote the article about the San and the problems they are currently facing. I did not write about the history of the Nguni, that was just an aside, and the San were not just taking their cattle back as the San were hunter gatherers and never raised cattle. In fact, they still don't raise cattle, so maybe you need to get your facts straight. I notice that you are so concerned over imagined slights and are completely neglecting to comment on the plight of the San. Maybe, that's because you agree with what is happening to them, and coming up with nonsense to try and detract from what the article is actually about. The suffering and extermination of a whole race of people because of greed. Just by the way, Africa was called the dark continent because it was unknown, not because of skin colour. For people in the USA, Africa is still very much an unknown, hence my use of that phrase.


ixwa profile image

ixwa 7 years ago

Terse comments you made which shows how much you really do not know what you are talking about. How you relate other peoples historical past says a lot about you. I have a sneaky suspicion you really do not know South African African history because that's the way it has always been. Sorry, I cannot get over myself because I have many reasons why I think correct history ought to be relayed throughout the web. You cannot justify using the terms "tribe", "Bushmen", "Dark Continent" and still claim that it was so named because Africa was unknown and and not of their skin color. You assume I meant the latter. Sorry, no. I mentioned a book in my last response hoping you might get the drift, you missed it because you hastened to blame the wiping out of the khoi onto the Local Africans and the Botswana People. The history of the Khoi and the San is far more deeper than you have alluded above. I have not derailed the topic of your article, I was merely pointing out that you should place blame to the correct people. You talking about the Nguni being in Tanzania, but you forget that Africa was cut up by the European colonialist, so that, what you assume was the movement of the Nguni to the South, was a region of people who fell under the rule of the Kingdom of Monomotapa and many other civilizations of antiquity. The genocide of the Khoi was begun by Bartholomew Diaz and his ship mates. You'll need to know and understand that that the history of both the Khoi and San does not really have much differences and that, in fact, as it is known that the San were hunter gatherers, The Khoi too, were the San because. Let me break this down for you. About four hundred years or so ago, the Cape Colony was a sparsely underpopulated territory but was important for its inhabitants and rulers and a couple of passing travelers. The years from 1652 to the mid 1800s the cate was The integrated into the world economy and when Europeans began dominating over Africans. With this domination came the founding of minerals and the rise of Afrikaner nationalism. The Settlers ruled and dominated the Cape Colony and they had slaves, the Khoi, San Africans and free blacks and others of mixed descent. The Griquas emerged for this mix. This was a slave society bearing comparison to the New World. It was also a colonial society under the control of the Dutch East India Company and the British and Batavian governments. Around the 1840s the Colony was modestly modernized. Around 1828 the Khoisan were extended some civil liberties, through the abolition of slavery in 1838. This is one of the many events which led to the Great Trek into the interior by Afrikaner colonists to try and fashion their own social order far form the British and the freed slaves. The Khoi kept cattle and sheep and the San were hunter gatherers. These two groups are very hard to distinguish, despite what some historians have assumed. The hunter-gatherers were existing there throughout the Equator and below long before pastoralism or agriculture. These two groups of people inhabited, for centuries parts of southern Africa and their material, intellectual and culture diversified. The San, because of their small numbers and isolation their heterogeneity was intensified some of them were the Khoi who lost their livestock and resorted to a hunting-gathering economy. The Khoi were different in many ways, and their name "Khoikhoi which means 'men of men' which they used to distinguish themselves form the Nguni and the San. The history of the development of the Cape was through wars with the Khoi and the San, who, in the process of their being decimated, lost their livestock and land. History has all the facts a researcher needs, and I think it depends where and what one is looking for.

Africa may have not been know according your trying to justify the Dark Continent, and again, history furnishes different fact, and it depends where you are looking. It is important you should find the ship logs and the diaries of Vasco da Gama and his forays on the East African Coast. Duarte Barbosa talks about the Swahili Civilization before the impact of Portuguese intervention. He talks about Sofala, The Zambezi Mouth, Angoya, Mozambique Island, Kilwa, Mombasa, Malindi, Pemba, Mafia, Zanzibar, Pate, Amu, Brava and Mogadishu. You can read some more accounts about early Africa from the writings of Diogo De Aalcancova on the Swahili Fiscal Practices. Go and check out Al Mas'udi on 'The Country of Zanj. Idrisi can inform you about the Export of iron form the mines in the mountains of Sofala. Yu-Yang-Tsa-Tsu writes about the custom and practices of the People of Popali in AD 843; Chao Ju-Kua narrates about the Slaves of Madagascar. Lastly, Ibn Batuta describes Kilwa in 1331, etc. No, Africa was not a Dark Continent that Europeans or Americans did not know about. They new more than you know now. The suffering and extermination of the San was long carried out by the European Settlers in the Cape From 1492(for the Khoi), and 1652 to the mid 1800s for the san. The San, in their cave painting, depict the settlers in their horse drawn carriages, some drawn on horseback carrying guns. The wars of the Extermination of the Khoi and San who were stealing cattle and sheep form the settlers were in the years 1673, 1674 and twice in 1676. These wars were propagated by the Dutch East India Company who were building and trying to give security to the encroaching settlers The Khoi and the San had very little differences in their culture and language, and when the Khoi lost their herds, they, through their heterogeneity with the San, and having lost their herds, became the San in hunting and gathering. We can talk about the extermination of the Khoi and the San in different epochs of colonial rule. You might gloss over this purges of a people in the early centuries. No, Americans know a lot about Africa, The came into South Africa after the discovery of gold and diamonds. the provided heavy machinery and mining techniques and I can write you a Hub to that Effect. But, you need to have some sensitivities and be better informed whenever you discuss Africa because the movements and intermingling of cultures does not mean people migrated there and are not indigenous to the land; only that seasons, culture and trade(among some) made constant back and forth movements possible movement possible. dictated. When it comes to language, Europe and some countries using some words used in other language, using reek words and Latin words in their language, and this does not make them newly arrivals in their part of the land. As for the Nguni language, you are not really informed about it and I will tell you that regional change does not mean some have migrated from others, it only means you need to understand the whole region in terms or one people with same languages, changing because of constant crossing over, inter-marriages, trade, cultural exchanges over the millennium. I will not label you, but will share more knowledge without attaching any emotion to my understanding of issues of history. Similarities in languages of the Southern African people does not indicate nor prove origin of one group from another. I really look forward to your discourse on most of the issues I have raised and I still have more, if you wish, to talk about on this issue and many other historical discourse. I am glad you are raising the problem of the San and you can find out about the Masarwa.

In the West, the Khoi and the San were driven from the land and exterminated or assim


SXP profile image

SXP 6 years ago from South Africa

All, I know is this: If something is not done soon, these the really first inhabitants of Africa might be lost forever.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 6 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

SXP, I agree


robertsloan2 profile image

robertsloan2 6 years ago from San Francisco, CA

Thank you for raising awareness of this modern atrocity. There need to be more efforts to protect people from a government that doesn't even regard them as people. In some ways the Bushmen's society is very advanced, they need the right to keep their land. It's crazy that this kind of thing is still going on in the 21st century.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 6 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Robertsloan, it is unbelievable that this kind of things still goes on. But, what are we going to do about it?


Lexy profile image

Lexy 6 years ago

wow what a great hub. Thank-you for writing it. It is such a shame what is happening, I had no idea. Sadly this kind of thing happens far to often in this world. It is unfortunate that greed often triumphs over compassion when people are faced with the choice.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 6 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Hi Lexy, you are so right, greed usually triumphs over compassion!


tinyteddy profile image

tinyteddy 6 years ago from INDIA

hey cindy i admire your guts to voice for the bushmen

in India also we have an endangered species- the dalits and tribals- the indian aparthied


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 6 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Yeah, tribal societies do need someone to speak up for them and luckily there is an NGO that does just that, Survival International.


Scott 5 years ago

Hello my son


Chioham 5 years ago

We all need to do something to pressurise the Government and all stakeholders to support the Bushmen.

Chioham- Emancipation of the Igbos- Article


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 5 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

I agree totally Chioham, which is why I wrotebout this issue to try and make more people aware of their plight.


ekenzy profile image

ekenzy 5 years ago

Wow!!! very interesting. nice hub.


Walkey 5 years ago

The writer of this piece is just recycling nonsense that has been written before. I'm from Botswana and I'm still yet to read history of Basarwa (the name we call this tribe) written by one of them, an objective piece I would say from the horse's mouth. All you have written here is not what I see on the ground. It's rather interesting how you know all these and you write with such authority! the piece contains a lot of lies, and I call that prejudice, malice and propaganda.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 5 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Walkey, I lived in Botswana for 4 years and went into the Kalahari to visit the Bushman!


Makenza 3 years ago

I dont get it..how could people want to destroy the unique culture of the san,the first inhabitants of southern africa..we should be proud to have such people..its such a shame that profit gain is considered first instead of peoples lifestyle..!!


Rohit 20 months ago

How can you people go aorund and blame all of this on republicans? WE as humans are the ones to blame not just one party of people. Until we start taking a stand and helping our planet we are all doomed. Just face it, we ruin our planet every single minute of everyday, putting off toxins into the air, dumping trash that takes billions of years to decompose (if it ever does), and not caring enough to do something about it, so yes i believe that we are ALL to blame each and evry one of us.

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    Bushmen stories in the news!

    Africa's Bushmen face lifestyle threat

    Posted Mon Oct 22, 2007 7:39am AEST

    The Sans Bushmen are now threatened by the 21st Century curses of unemployment, poverty, alcohol abuse and HIV-AIDS. (Reuters: Siphiwe Sibeko )

    They roamed the savannahs and open plains for thousands of years, but the hunter-gatherer lifestyle of southern Africa's San tribes is slowly being squeezed towards extinction.

    After clashing at the start of the last century with German settlers in modern-day Namibia and then being exploited by South Africa's apartheid regime in the 1980s, the San, also known as Bushmen, are now threatened by the 21st Century curses of unemployment, poverty, alcohol abuse and HIV-AIDS.

    While the plight of the San in Botswana made headlines in recent months when authorities illegally evicted tribes from the Kalahari, their kinsmen in Namibia and South Africa have fared little better in protecting their traditional habitat.

    A glimmer of hope lies in tourism as operators discover the remote part of Namibia where the likes of Gcao Nari, a grandmother of the Juhoansi San tribe, showcase the ancient art of threading ostrich shell beads.

    But in a sign of the times, the beads that Nari painstakingly needles under the fierce sun are imported from neighbouring South Africa since there are no ostriches left in the remote north-east Otjozondjupa region.

    Nari speaks softly to her granddaughter in the ancient San tongue, with complicated clicks rolling from her lips as she enthuses about tentative plans to reintroduce game to the area as a source of food and income for a people with unparalleled hunting abilities.

    "Then my grandchildren can be taught to hunt again," she said.

    Colonial rulers

    About 30,000 San remain in Namibia, with the Haikom and Juhoansi the largest groups.

    Their numbers dived from the start of the last century when then colonial ruler Germany allowed growing numbers of white settlers to shoot Bushmen and encroach on their traditional hunting grounds.

    South Africa took over the territory's administration during the World War I until Namibia's independence in 1990, which followed a protracted liberation war.

    Nari remembers the 1970s when the South African military came to enlist the help of the San in return for certain favours.

    "They used my husband and other men of our village as trackers along the border with Angola to fight freedom fighters," she says through an interpreter.

    "The military drilled boreholes for us and taught our children, their doctors in uniform gave us medical treatment and my husband earned a salary."

    Other San like the Khwe and Vasekele originated in Angola, were employed by Portuguese colonial military forces during that country's liberation struggle, but fled to Namibia after Angolan independence in 1975.

    They were wedged between two warring factions.

    "Bushman Battalion'

    The South African military gave them shelter in then South West Africa; the men became trackers and soldiers in a special 'Bushman Battalion' against the Peoples' Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN).

    In 1990, some 1,000 San soldiers and their families took up an offer from the Pretoria government to settle at Schmidtsdrift, near Kimberley in South Africa's arid Northern Cape province, fearing reprisals from the new Namibian government if they stayed.

    The 5,000-strong !Xu - an exclamation point precedes the word to represent the distinctive click sounds in their language - and Khwe communities left in the Northern Cape today have been reduced to relying on government pensions and food handouts.

    "I feel caged," 84-year-old Monto Masako said, from his sparsely furnished three-room home at Platfontein, as he dreamily recalls his childhood.

    "My father taught me to hunt with a bow and arrow. We slept in the veldt - it was so free. But that has all been taken away, we can never go back."

    The Schmidtsdrift community spent its first decade in an army tent camp, exposed to the elements and without proper services.

    Title deeds

    But in 1999, then president Nelson Mandela handed them the title deeds to the nearby farm Platfontein, which they had bought by pooling nearly 900 individual government housing grants of 15,000 rand ($US2,000) each.

    With further government and NGO help, houses were erected and the move from Schmidtsdrift started some three years later.

    But having put all their hopes on Platfontein for a better life, many were bitterly disappointed.

    With a handful of available jobs and no public transport to the town of Kimberley some 10 kilometres away, many spend their days idling and drinking.

    There is no refuse removal and the tiny homes are shoddily built, letting in the rain and wind. Nor is there any inside plumbing, bathroom or kitchen, while many units have yet to get electricity.

    HIV, tuberculosis, crime and teenage pregnancy are on the rise, community workers say.

    "We can never go back to the life of old, but at least a good quality house would have made it more tolerable," Masako said.

    There is some cause for hope, however, with the new generation of San attending school and several employment projects in the pipeline.

    The people of Platfontein have set up a security company providing some 300 jobs, erected a cultural tourist centre, and were planning a game lodge with various donations.

    "We are trying to make a new life," community leader Mario Mahongo said.

    UN expert visits Bushmen, sees no access to water

    31 March 2009

    © 2004 Stephen Corry/Survival

    The UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, visited Bushmen from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana this month. He met with Bushmen who are living inside the reserve without access to water.

    Professor Anaya visited several Bushman communities in Botswana, including the resettlement camps Kaudwane and New Xade, where the government dumped several thousand Bushmen after forcibly evicting them from their homes inside the reserve. He also visited two Bushman communities inside the reserve, Gugamma and Metsiamenong.

    In a landmark ruling in 2006, the High Court of Botswana confirmed the Bushmen’s right to live inside the reserve. Since then, some have managed to return, joining the few who were able to resist the evictions. But most are still stuck in the resettlement camps, because the government has banned them from using their own water borehole in the reserve and from hunting for food.

    The government is, however, allowing a mining company and a tourism company to set up operations in the reserve. Both projects will need to sink water boreholes of their own.

    This month the UN Human Rights Council also concluded its review of Botswana, in which Finland urged Botswana to ‘ensure respect for the rights of the indigenous people living in the areas of interest to companies active in the diamond business’, and Denmark urged them to ‘provide access to land and support for the residents of the reserve, as specified in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous people.’

    Canada and Spain also urged action on the issue, and Mexico suggested Botswana consider ratifying the international law for tribal peoples’ rights, ILO Convention 169.

    One of the ways the Botswana government is stopping more Bushmen returning to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve is cutting off their water supply.

    Before the evictions, the Bushmen got water from a borehole in the community of Mothomelo. A tanker carried water to the other communities once a month.

    © Survival

    During the evictions the government stopped this service, removed all the water storage tanks and took the borehole’s pump, without which it is useless.

    Many Bushmen have returned to the reserve, both before and after their court victory. They get water from ‘pans’ – rain-filled depressions in the sand, and from melons and roots. In the dry season, life is extremely difficult, and at least one woman has already died of starvation and thirst.

    The government has banned the Bushmen from re-opening and using the borehole, even though the Bushmen have offered to pay the costs. It has given no explanation for its ban.

    It has, however, allowed the diamond company in the reserve to use all the water it needs, and has even indicated that safari companies can sink new boreholes to make waterholes for wildlife.

    Government renews assault on Bushmen

    20 May 2009

    © Stephen Corry/Survival

    Botswana’s government sent trucks full of police and wildlife scouts into the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) yesterday to confiscate goats from Bushmen who have returned to their ancestral homes.

    The Bushmen, whose goats had been confiscated in 2002 when they were unlawfully evicted from the reserve, only received their livestock back in recent weeks.

    The Attorney General had promised the Bushmen that they could take their goats back to their homes in the reserve, and government vets had certified the animals as free from disease.

    But officials from the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism have targeted the Bushmen’s small herds, apparently concerned that they do not fit in with the image of the CKGR they wish to promote. The government is promoting a scheme to build a tourist lodge near the Bushman community of Molapo in the reserve – the same community now being targeted.

    Goats provide the Bushmen with an essential source of nourishment, particularly during the dry season. This need is even more acute since the government has barred the Bushmen from using their old water borehole.

    Jumanda Gakelebone of the Bushman organisation First People of the Kalahari said today, ‘As Bushmen of the CKGR we were thinking that our issues with the government could be solved and come to an end. The position that the Ministry of Tourism is taking means there are no negotiations. We as Bushmen appeal to the nation of Botswana and say that the battle between the government and the Bushmen of the CKGR is starting. For two years we tried to talk with the government. Now our campaign is beginning again.’

    Survival International’s director Stephen Corry said today, ‘For two years the Bushmen have been trying to get the government to sit down with them and discuss their rights. So far the government’s only response has been to send in truckloads of police to take back the livestock they have only just returned. It’s hard to believe just how petty and bullying the government’s actions are. They ought to have realised by now that the Bushmen aren’t so easily bullied.’

    For more information contact Jumanda Gakelebone (First People of the Kalahari) on (+267) 7190 9972 or Miriam Ross (Survival International) on (+44) 20 7687 8734/ mr@survival-international.org

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