The US State Department has issued a human rights report that criticizes the government of Botswana for its discriminatory actions against the G/wi and G//ana people. According to an article last week in the Botswana Gazette, the United States document follows just weeks after a UN official released a preliminary report condemning the country for its treatment of the indigenous, minority groups.
The US report decries the fact that Botswana is ignoring a ruling by its own High Court in 2006, which recognized that the San people have a right guaranteed in the nation’s constitution to live in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. According to the latest document, the government is preventing the people from returning to their homes and denying them access to water. At the same time, it has allowed a wilderness lodge operator in the CKGR to provide a swimming pool for its guests, with water from a drilled borehole.
Another article last week discussed the fact that the company which operates the Kalahari Plains lodge, Wilderness Safaris, was being listed on the Botswana and the Johannesburg Stock Exchanges on Thursday, April 8th. According to that article, tourists visiting the lodge not only have the privileges of using a swimming pool and a bar, they also can take a guided “Bushman walk.”
The website of Wilderness Safaris describes the facilities and the incredible wildlife viewing available at the camp. It mentions the possible interactions with the nearby San peoples: “Various Bushmen clans have thrived in this area for centuries, and many of Kalahari Plains Camp’s staff hail from this ancient people. The camp offers an interpretive “Bushman Walk” with a couple of our staff members, where guests gain life-changing insights into the unique culture of this fascinating people.”
Stephen Corry, Director of Survival International, an NGO based in London that is championing the rights of the San people, had a predictably negative take on the tourist facility in the desert. “The reserve is largely traditional Bushman land; tourists shouldn’t be going there at all until the Bushmen are treated fairly,” he said.