The government of Botswana expelled the G/wi and the G//ana from their traditional desert homes several years ago, but the court case filed by the dispossessed San peoples is again facing delays. Two weeks after the resumption of the case, it is already one week behind schedule.
The judges hearing the case delayed the proceedings for two days to attend a conference, and last Thursday they called a two-day adjournment to review an issue that appeared to have been decided last August. A government lawyer had tried, back in August, to enter as evidence in the proceedings a report written after the presentation of evidence had begun. The court would not allow the report to be presented. Moreover, the behavior of the attorney in the courtroom had resulted in him being jailed for contempt for four days. When he again tried to enter the same report as evidence last week, the judges decided to delay the trial.
Survival International, the human rights group in London that is championing the cause of the G/wi and G//ana, charges that the same attorney last September ordered military forces to fire on San people when they attempted to take water and food to relatives who are still living in their traditional Central Kalahari Game Reserve home area. SI charges that the Botswana government is purposely seeking to delay the court process because of the problems the San are having with securing funding for their case. The parties to the trial have agreed that it should be wrapped up in about 10 weeks.
To judge by one news report, however, public opinion in Botswana is evidently turning against the efforts of Survival International. It appears to people as if the British group is interfering in their nation’s affairs. The reggae band Massive, warming a crowd Friday night in Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, performed a protest song, “Bushmen in Ghanzi,” which urges Survival International to end its meddling in the affairs of their country.
The “protest reggae” style of the song appealed to the crowd, who got to their feet and danced happily along with the words of the chorus claiming that every country has its Bushmen problem—Gypsies in England, aborigines in Australia, American Indians in the U.S. Whether it was the message of the song or the reggae beat, the crowd was apparently captivated.
The band manager indicated that they wrote the song a couple years ago as a protest against the campaign, as they perceive it, of SI against their country. “They are being hypocritical as they act like they do not have similar problems on their own doorsteps. They should push their government to safeguard the rights of the Gypsies, who are England’s Bushmen,” he said.