The Inconvenient Indigenous: Remote Area Development in Botswana, Donor Assistance and the First People of the Kalahari

The Inconvenient Indigenous: Remote Area Development in Botswana, Donor Assistance and the First People of the Kalahari

The Inconvenient Indigenous: Remote Area Development in Botswana, Donor Assistance and the First People of the Kalahari

The Inconvenient Indigenous: Remote Area Development in Botswana, Donor Assistance and the First People of the Kalahari

Synopsis

The book deals with the relationship between the government of Botswana and its indigenous minority, known as Bushmen, San, Basarwa, or more recently N/oakwe, and tries to understand why the San people remain a marginalized minority in a country that since independence in 1966 has committed itself to a democratic and non-racial agenda. While there have been dozens of books published on the ethnography of the San, this is the first book that places them in the comparative context of indigenous peoples' struggle for recognition. An in-depth documentation and analysis is given of a series of events in 1992 and 1993 that were crucial in establishing San indigenous organizations and identities.

Excerpt

In April 1992, a fragile elderly man looked down on the chequered carpet of the Gaborone Sun Hotel conference hall and compared it to the land of his native Ghanzi, now partitioned into squares by fences separating people from the land they used to live on. His name was Komtsha Komtsha, distinguished Naro elder and Chairman of the Kuru Development Trust, and the venue was the Botswana Society's workshop on Sustainable Rural Development.

Komtsha communicated a sense of injustice and grief well known to those familiar with the situation of the Basarwa in Botswana, but this was probably the first time such sentiments were expressed in the Naro language on a public occasion, with prominent civil servants and politicians present. in his companion John Hardbattle's eloquent English translation, the words of Komtsha introduced a new phase in the relationship between the Basarwa and the Botswana nation.

Nation-State—Minority Relations

I use this event as a point of departure, and regard Komtsha's few condensed sentences as a metaphor for the present inter-ethnic situation in Botswana. This study will trace some of the history leading up to the situation described, and will establish the broader context in which the workshop took place.

The focus for the analysis is the relationship between a minority group and the nation state. the minority, variously called Bushmen, San, Basarwa, and more recently N/oakwe or Kwe, has over the years been featured in the literature in various capacities: as a beautiful and photogenic people, as archetypical huntergatherers, as a linguistic group, as a biological race, as poor and marginal beneficiaries of a government development programme in Botswana, and most recently as an indigenous people on the national and international scene.

Most of the anthropological literature so far has focused on aspects of culture or social organisation among the Bushmen. By contrast, the focus of the present work is on the relationship between San/Bushmen groups and the encompassing society. This relationship can be studied in sequences of daily encounters and interaction, and in the ways national policies and regulations circumscribe their lives.

This study will apply anthropological theories of social and cultural differentiation, and more specifically theories of ethnic/indigenous differentiation, to the analysis of a context where such perspectives have so far been implicitly and . . .

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