Foreign Policy Blogs

For The San People Of Botswana, Diamonds Are Not A Girl’s Best Friend

Diamonds may be known for their cachet as the ultimate symbol of love and eternity throughout the world, but not for the San people of Botswana.  Recently, the Botswana high court reversed some of the gains made by the San people in their struggle for land rights when the Judge ruled last Wednesday that their court challenge to allow them access to a vital waterhole failed to meet Botswana’s national regulations. This event follows a series of forced removals of the San people from their land in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve by the Botswana government from the 1980s through 2000s in order to make way for diamond mining and tourism.  Although Botswana’s San people won the right to return to their ancestral land in 2006, the government has denied them their rights to water since then.  In response, the San mounted a court challenge arguing that “the government is discriminating against them by refusing them access to a desert borehole (well) on their traditional lands while allowing a luxury tourist lodge and a diamond mine access to water.”

At the root of this conflict between the San and the Botswana Government is the top-down models of development that are making it difficult for Southern Africa’s San people to maintain their way of life.  The sad reality is that despite being peaceful people, modern day life has seen them subjected to violence and forced removals in order to give way to conservation, roads, cities and agricultural farming throughout the region.



Ndumba J. Kamwanyah

Ndumba Jonnah Kamwanyah, a native of Namibia in Southern Africa, is an independent consultant providing trusted advice and capacity building through training, research, and social impact analysis to customers around the world. Mos recently Ndumba returned from a consulting assignment in Liberia in support of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).
In his recent previous life Ndumba taught (as an Adjunct Professor) traditional justice and indigenous African political institutions in sub-Saharan Africa at the Rhode Island College-Anthropology Department.

He is very passionate about democracy development and peace-building, and considers himself as a street researcher interested in the politics of everyday life.
Twitter: NdumbaKamwanyah