As First Nations in Saskatchewan and Chiapas made unscheduled appearances in world media this last week, the notion of Indigenous People as economic obstacles to the modern corporate state is again a hot topic of discussion. Stepping outside North America and traveling back in time four years, Friends of Peoples Close to Nature interviewed San activist Roy Sesana about the displacement of Bushmen from the Kalahari by the Botswana government.
As a partner with DeBeers, and dependent for half its revenue on diamonds, Botswana in 1997 began the process of ethnic cleansing in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve established in 1965 by the British Protectorate for the traditional economy of the Bushmen. With the discovery of diamonds, Botswana, in one generation, turned the inheritors of the 20,000-year culture of the Kalahari into despondent, impoverished residents of urban ghettos.
As Sesana — recipient of the 2005 Alternative Nobel Prize — remarks, thanks to diamonds, the Bushmen have now become wanderers between two cultures.
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