December 13th marked the first anniversary of the Kgeikani Kweni’s (First People of the Kalahari) landmark victory in Botswana’s High Court. As relayed in the following video produced shortly after the victory, the court ruled the government’s eviction of the Kgeikani Kweni was ‘unlawful and unconstitutional’, and that they have the right to live, hunt, and gather on their ancestral land in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.
After the court ruling, the government continued to deny their rights. In fact, they stepped up their persecution of those who try to hunt on the reserve. At least 53 Kgeikani Kweni have been arrested for hunting in 2007, and many have been tortured. The government also refuses to let them access their water borehole inside the reserve, and many Kgeikani Kweni remain stranded in the resettlement camps they were dragged into last year.
If you’re wondering why they’re doing this, I need only say one word: diamonds.
The Kalahari Game Reserve “lies in the middle of the richest diamond-producing area in the world. There is known to be at least one major diamond deposit in the reserve, at a Bushman community called Gope. Many other ‘kimberlites’ (volcanic rock in which diamonds are found) are present in the reserve.
In May 2007 De Beers sold its deposit at Gope to Gem Diamonds, for $34 million. Gem Diamonds’ chief executive called the Gope deposit ‘a problematic asset for De Beers’ because of the Bushmen campaign.
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 it plans to develop a mine at Gope as quickly as possible.”
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