The San people or the Bushmen battle for Kalahari
Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2001
(BBC) The modern world has barely touched the Kalahari desert, in the middle of Botswana. Nature, not man, governs the daily pattern of life.
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It is as bare, remote and harsh as life can get - and yet there is a natural, undisturbed order that gives this land its own sense of beauty.
But yet people do live here, as they have done for nearly 30,000 years. This is home to the San people - or the Bushmen of the Kalahari.
They have lived here as hunter-gatherers. Only several hundred remain on their ancestral lands. But now they face a battle to cling on to their way of life.
The Botswanan Government is urging - some would say forcing - them to move. Huddled around fires outside their huts in the cold early morning the villagers told me about their plight.
"It's up to us, we will stay here even if they try to kill us", said 28-year-old Gakemothowasepe Molapong. "We know this land. We are as free as birds and we will live as we want."
It is a competition between the indigenous rights of the San people, and the economic interests of Botswana.
The government says it wants to protect the wildlife, but many believe that they are motivated by the huge mineral wealth the Kalahari is believed to possess, including diamonds and possible uranium. And so, the government wants to relocate the San communities. More on this Story
South Africa's indigenous people, known as Khoisan,
are demanding better treatment from the country's government.
Country profile: Botswana
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