The Bushmen are hunter-gatherer tribal people from Botswana, who have lived in harmony with their surroundings for thousands of years.
For the Bushmen, the land is everything: it is where they source their food, water, and shelter, and is the place where their ancestors are buried. The Bushmen have a profound spiritual connection to their land, and cannot survive without it.
In the 1980s, the Botswana government discovered diamonds on the Bushmen’s land in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Although the Reserve had been created to protect the Bushmen and their way of life, the Bushmen were no longer welcome. Government trucks arrived to dismantle the Bushmen’s homes and drive them out of the Reserve, where they were dumped in ‘death camps’ far from their former homes.
In 2006 the Bushmen won a court case against the government. The High Court of Botswana ruled that the Bushmen’s forced eviction had been ‘unlawful and unconstitutional’. But only a small number were allowed to return home. The vast majority are now forced to apply for permits to enter their homeland, which allows them to stay with their families for just one month at a time. Children of those who have been allowed to stay in the Reserve are forced out at the age of 18, and can only see their families for limited periods.
The government has done everything in its power to make life impossible for the Bushmen of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.
While wealthy tourists are invited to Botswana with images of hunting and promises of ‘walks with the indigenous Bushmen’, the real Bushmen are being starved off their land.
A violent crack down on hunting has prevented them from being able to hunt using the traditional methods they have employed for millennia.
The Bushmen are treated as poachers on their own land. They are harassed and bullied, beaten and tortured; animals in Botswana are treated with more respect that the indigenous inhabitants.
I am Lorraine Lionheart and I was born and raised in the Kalahari Desert in Botswana. I grew up with Bushmen communities and have a deep affiliation with the tribe’s way of life. As a singer-songwriter, I have drawn much of my creative inspiration from the Basarwa culture. Alone my voice may not be strong enough to make tangible change, but with your help we can give back Basarwa their dignity, their pride, their freedom, their peace, their happiness and their rightful ethnic inheritance, which they were brutally robbed of.
“The Bushmen are not primitive, they are not stupid, they are not backward, they are not uneducated, they are not uncivilized, and they are not inferior. They pose no threat to anyone in Botswana or to the government of Botswana and are doing no harm by living in their land. They simply live a different lifestyle from the rest of Batswana; it is not any better or any worse, just different. They should not be persecuted for living their lives as they have the right to live their life the way they wish”
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