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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 November 2005, 18:17 GMT
Have your say
A Bushman rests in the Botswana resettlement town of New Xade

In this week's Crossing Continents, Paul Kenyon investigates claims that tactics used by some Bushmen supporters are making matters worse.

We asked for your comments, a selection of which are below.

In reference to Paul Kenyon's article, how is a bushman misjudging the word genocide? Because a well-paid, white BBC correspondent says so?

Does it really matter the numbers, if the result is the same? The death and systematic disenfranchisement of a people?

That sounds like extinction to me, regardless of the word someone wants to throw on top of it.
Sean Siberio

How come all the Bushmen who have been affected by being moved off their land say they want Survival International to help them, and all the people saying Survival shouldn't be involved are from outside the area?

I say anyone concerned should make as much fuss as they can
Nelson Linden, Australia
Aren't the Bushmen the ones best placed to know what's in their interests?

Maybe if Survival International had been around 200 years ago there would be a few more Aborigines left today. It's incredible that indigenous people can still be treated like this.

I say anyone concerned should make as much fuss as they can.
Nelson Linden, Australia

I was really disappointed by what is usually an intelligent, well-informed programme. The focus seemed to be not on what is happening to the Bushmen, but a kind of witch hunt against Survival International.

Land equals life for the Bushmen. To be removed from it IS tantamount to genocide. What happens when they are forcibly removed? They die. Not dramatically, in a media-friendly bloodbath, but quietly, from disease, alcoholism, violence and despair. It's still death.

I have spent time travelling with people from another community that Survival International has been involved with, in eastern Canada.

Indigenous people all over the world are under threat of extinction because of land
Alexandra Pratt, UK
I know first hand just how valuable the charity's support has been to them. Survival listens when nobody else does. It acts when no-one else wants to.

Without Survival, would the plight of the Bushmen ever have made it onto an entire BBC programme? I doubt it.

Indigenous people all over the world are under threat of extinction because of land. The modern world is a land hungry place.

Perhaps a better angle for your programme would have been this fight for survival that is quietly being lost in remote places all over the world, by people who do not have a voice in the global media, or among powerful governments.

SI does its best to change that. It's more than most of us do.
Alexandra Pratt, UK

I found this programme very biased towards De Beers and the Botswana government. Survival does good work, however this was not reflected in your programme.
Mel Ward, England

It sounds like Paul Kenyon works for a De Beers PR company. He's seriously missed the point, and for someone so well- travelled and experienced this programme is simply not balanced.

By their very nature and numbers Bushmen will not get representation in parliament. De Beers on the other hand can afford to employ the very best lawyers, government officials and PR companies.
Adrian Arbib, UK

I am from Zimbabwe, now living as an exile in South Africa.

It makes me mad when Africans do not stand up for each other. We in Zimbabwe are suffering because no government in Africa will stand up to Mugabe and say he is a dictator.

This is the attitude that makes so many of us suffer
Winston Muzorewa, South Africa
How can a human rights NGO in Botswana say that the African way is only quiet negotiation?

This is the attitude that makes so many of us suffer.

Thank God for anybody who makes a stand and shouts out to the world when they see victimisation and oppression. Would South Africa today be free if everybody tried to negotiate around a table with the Boers?

Only when they felt so much pressure from the international community did they cave in. When confronted with injustice, speak out!
Winston Muzorewa, South Africa

This programme certainly will not help the bushmen in any way, which is a shame.

I was in Botswana recently and talked to many Gana and Gwi Bushmen, all of whom who were very in favour of Survival International's campaign.
Mark Bobb, UK

I found Paul Kenyon's pseudo-authoritative - and almost bullying - interrogation of interviewees on the subject of genocide and whether it can be applied to the San people in Botswana rather disturbing.

I would have liked reliable background information that would help me form a view
Owen Beith, UK
I have no connection with Survival International and am uncertain whether their campaign is ultimately helpful or otherwise to the San people.

I would have liked reliable background information - of the sort that I normally trust Crossing Continents to provide me with - that would help me form a view.

Instead I have been left by this morning's programme with the feeling that I've just heard a rather spurious hatchet job.
Owen Beith, UK

What a shame that Paul Kenyon chose to pick on the British charity Survival International.

No charity is perfect but this is a small one that does really valuable work in helping tribal people have a say in determining their own future especially in the face of the rampant commercial interests of most of the rest of the world.

This correspondent would do well to focus his attentions on some of the world's real injustices rather than take such a shallow and unfair pop at Survival.
David Thorne, UK

I was Chairman of the UK Parliament's Botswana Group until the General Election in May. I have visited the CKGR and seen conditions there accompanied by other MPs and Lords.

Crossing Continent's findings reflect the conclusion I reached that there has been no genocide.

The Botswana government is simply trying to supply decent social services such as health and education to all of its people.

Those who criticise the BBC programme should go to Botswana to see for themselves
Lord Jones of Cheltenham, UK
I can imagine the outcry if the Bushmen had been excluded from this policy.

Most of the 50,000 Basarwa are now living in decent conditions all over Botswana. New Xade has a splendid clinic and the children at the new school certainly seemed very happy to be learning science, maths and English.

I am not alone in having these views and am comforted that those who served in Bechuanaland/Botswana before and after independence consider the government's policy to be correct.

Five EU heads of mission (ambassadors) have also given the thumbs up to the policy following an uncomfortable visit to the CKGR.

I suggest those who criticise the BBC programme should go to Botswana to see for themselves rather than accept the inaccurate and lurid stories perpetuated elsewhere.
Lord Jones of Cheltenham, UK

This programme was ridiculously biased, and I listened with growing incredulity.

As far as I am aware Crossing Continents is a programme about events in other countries than Britain.

This edition was effectively about the faults of a British charity, albeit in another country.

I expect better of Crossing Continents, and generally it has delivered in the past
Mat, England
A more usual Crossing Continents programme would have focussed on events and feelings in Botswana per se, maybe touching on Survival International's role in passing.

Like many others who have given their views, I expect better of Crossing Continents, and generally it has delivered in the past.

I think the programme-makers need to seriously consider whether this edition matched its usual standard, and in my opinion they should make sure this kind of biased "reporting" doesn't happen again.
Mat, England

The world is full of similar evictions directed against indigenous people from their ancestral land in the name of so-called national development.

Survival International should be strongly commended for helping to draw the attention of the international community to the plight of the defenceless and vulnerable CKGR Bushmen!

They deserve all the support they can get in this noble struggle!
Phil ya Nan, Goloh, Namibia

What a weird programme. You've given a totally distorted picture of a very important issue.

I've just returned from two years in Botswana, working with the San and other minority groups.

I know from personal experience - because I sometimes came across them - that Survival has spent a lot of time talking to the San and consulting them.
Hannah Thrush, UK

As a past donor to Survival International I was concerned to hear your report. Its website however, has a thoroughly convincing rebuttal to your programme.

The critics you gave a platform to clearly have their own agenda
Cedric Heffer, UK
The critics you gave a platform to clearly have their own agenda, which was not mentioned at all in your programme. And the Bushmen appear wholeheartedly to back SI.
Cedric Heffer, UK

Reading Survival's response to your programme leads me to question whether you did enough research and whether you have given a fair and unbiased assessment of the issue.

In fact, the whole programme seemed to come across as a smear job on Survival.
Steve Ramsden, UK

I have rarely heard a more blatant example of a stitch-up. This is not at all what I expect from Crossing Continents, which I usually enjoy.

What is happening to the San Bushmen is genocide by any other name. I'm sure if you're on the receiving end of being forced off your land and put in a camp, in a country with one of the highest HIV/AIDS rates in the world, your reporter's quibbles about the definition of the term will ring pretty hollow.

Shame on those you interviewed who should be standing up for the San, but instead seemed cowed by the government.
Ali Hussein, UK

I am a Motswana and have stayed in Botswana for most of my life. I don't understand why anyone would be against the Botswana government for relocating the Basarwa (I can't call them bushmen, they do not belong to the bush) to areas where they can have easy access to necessities such as clean water, education, medication and so on, like any other person in this country.

The Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) is in the middle of a desert and too far from the next developed village or town, thus making it difficult to have things like electricity, clean water, telephones and other things people (including Basarwa) would love to have.

I believe with time they shall adjust to their new way of life
K Mogotsi, Botswana
The Botswana government has in the past used water bowsers to supply Basarwa of the CKGR, but this proved to be too expensive, besides these people could not improve their lives due to lack of schools and jobs in that area.

The government then decided to relocate the Basarwa to other areas where the government had built them schools and houses, provided them with water and other good things.

I am of the opinion that these Basarwa are agreeing with Survival International only because of the fear of change.

It is normal to fear when change comes around even when things change for the good, but I believe with time they shall adjust to their new way of life.
K Mogotsi, Botswana

The programme is indeed a true reflection of what is happening in Botswana. It is because of Survival that the government will not even negotiate. I think it is a disgrace.
Mokwepa Walotlattlana, UK

Thankyou Crossing Continents for putting on the agenda that Survival International does not speak for the San.

It is time for SI to accept that they are now exacerbating the situation between the San, local NGOs and the government.

There is no way that a solution can be found without all parties coming to discuss the matter around a table. SI is making this impossible.

We do not have time to waste whilst SI implements a misguided campaign
Cyril Lombard, UK
It is time for the international community (including all those well-intentioned donors to SI) to support local solutions to the CKGR issues and to realise that there are many other perhaps more important problems that confront the San in Botswana and elsewhere in Southern Africa.

Botswana and Southern Africa have many capable institutions to represent the San.

We do not have time to waste whilst SI implements a misguided campaign that will damage more than the San in Botswana. Every week its campaign continues, the more deeply the problem will entrench, and the more unnecessary hardship the San will need to endure.

Will SI listen to local institutions with a meaningful mandate to represent the San? Or is its campaign too popular and lucrative?

Well done BBC. I hope you do a follow-up on this story because I think many people who support SI deserve to know more about this complex and important issue. They will perhaps learn just how much truth there is in saying "the road to hell is paved with good intentions".
Cyril Lombard, UK

Let African people do it for themselves rather than international organisations. Let Africans distinguish between wealth and humanity or morals. Let them accept themselves first before asking for assistance.
Maje Phasha, SA

The programme was a long overdue corrective.

While a lot of Botswana NGOs are unhappy with the consultation process leading to the relocation and would prefer the government to have done things differently, almost all except one have stopped co-operating or working with Survival International.

Its campaign will hurt Botswana's mineral-led economy and rubbish one of Africa's all too few success stories
Ikanyeng S Malila, Botswana
Survival links diamond mining to the relocation knowing full well that the mines presently in operation have nothing to do with the relocation issue.

It knows its campaign will hurt Botswana's mineral-led economy and rubbish one of Africa's all too few success stories.

And it knows that bringing a giant like De Beers into the fray is huge money spinner in the West and does wonders for SI's profile.
Ikanyeng S Malila, Botswana

The issue as Sheila Khama rightly said is certainly not diamonds. It is the issue of cattle grazing and land.

Cattle and land are the emotive issues, and in the case of the Bushmen the land is the vital issue.

The fact that the CKGR covers approximately half the total territory of Botswana and is reserved for a tiny ethnic minority who are not cattle owners galls the Botswana people.
Tim Longden, Botswana citizen living in the UK

Whatever one thinks about Survival International's various campaigns on behalf of indigenous peoples, it seems to me that SI has distorted the truth about the CKGR San to "dumb down" its fundraising messages.

In Africa we have enough real problems without fictitious bogeymen constructed by professional do-gooders
Pierre du Plessis, Namibia
In the process it has used the wrong stick (diamond mining) to beat the wrong dog (De Beers) for the wrong reasons (false accusations of genocide) and has thereby antagonised the Botswana government to the point where it will not negotiate with the CKGR San if SI is anywhere near the table.

For SI to persist with its wrong-headed campaign even when it clearly harms the interests of the very people it claims to represent is - as Crossing Continents clarified - at best extreme arrogance, and at worst a cynical attempt to continue raising money by exploiting the best impulses of a gullible public.

In Africa we have enough real problems without fictitious bogeymen constructed by professional do-gooders.
Pierre du Plessis, Namibia

How courageous of Paul Kenyon to take on Survival International. Maybe now journalists will stand up to fat cats like Oxfam, and diamond companies like De Beers will be able to carry out their business without harassment.

On a more serious note, I look to BBC Radio 4 for uncompromising reporting, as in the consistently excellent Today programme, but this journalist's bull-headed interviewing style bordered on self-parody.

Maybe the campaigners at Survival don't understand the nuances of the situation in Botswana, but Paul Kenyon clearly doesn't either.
Alec Patton, American citizen living in the UK

The vast majority of Bushmen / Baswara live outside the CKGR and have pressing needs, including land rights.

SI's confrontational approach has blocked the very negotiations that could help this majority. Its campaign is at the cost of the vast majority of Bushmen / Baswara.

SI is dominating media coverage of Bushmen with sensationalist allegations about the most picturesque minority, in whose interests is this campaign: SI or the Bushmen?
Janet , UK

I don't think Botswana's London-based PR company should be using this website as a forum to attack the central Kalahari Bushmen's land struggle which Survival is supporting ( "Janet's" comments).

An outcry, such as that supported by Survival and other organisations is exactly what is required
Stephen Corry, SI
Survival has blocked nothing, there never were "negotiations" and the Bushmen's "allegations", do not have to be exaggerated to reflect a government policy which is underpinned by racism and colonialism.

The Botswana government is destroying the Gana and Gwi Bushmen. An outcry, such as that supported by Survival and other organisations (including some in Botswana) is exactly what is required. It will be pursued with increasing vigour.
Stephen Corry, UK

I have been to Central Kalahari Game Reserve with Lord Jones, and cannot understand how he supports Paul Kenyon's Crossing Continents programme, which was grossly biased in favour of the Botswanan Government's brutal policy toward the bushmen.

Survival International is the only thing standing between the bushmen and extinction, and is richly to be praised.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch, UK

I am intrigued to be described as "Botswana's London-based PR company" by Stephen Corry of SI.

My interest in the issue is that of someone who has worked with the Bushmen in Botswana for a few years, often in the face of a hostile government.

There is quite enough division on the ground without increasing conflict
Janet, UK
I just believe that the Bushmen's best interests are not served by focusing on the tiny minority based in the CKGR, nor by undermining the credibility of other NGOs and their personnel working with the Bushmen.

Issues of race are very sensitive in southern Africa and there is quite enough division on the ground without increasing conflict. The losers in this are the Bushmen.
Janet, UK

I am deeply disturbed by the bias in this programme and disappointed in the quality of investigative journalism.

We can get into a protracted debate about the facts and counter-arguments but it's worth asking ourselves what are the vested interests of the various parties interviewed, and therefore our suspicions should be raised about the validity of some of the comments.

The true test of a healthy democratic society is how it treats its minorities. The programme missed an opportunity to properly tackle those who hold power and the destiny of others in their hands.
Tej, UK

This whole affair is turning into something that is ridiculous beyond belief, and what is amazing is how people tend to quickly forget.

In the history of my country, Botswana, we have never had people being moved away from their land for mining purposes.

The mining of minerals has a very recent history in Botswana. Check all the mining towns: Selibe Phikwe, Jwaneng, Orapa, Letlhakane.There has never been a case of eviction to make way for mining or even prospective mining. The towns have been built around the people who were already living there.

SI has simply got it all wrong.
Jericho Keletso, Mathathane, Botswana

The comments we publish are not necessarily the views of the BBC but will reflect the balance of views we have received.

Crossing Continents


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Battle of the bushmen
03 Nov 05 |  Crossing Continents
Row over Bushmen 'genocide'
06 Nov 05 |  Crossing Continents
Bushmen fight for homeland
02 May 05 |  Africa
Country profile: Botswana
03 Nov 05 |  Country profiles
Paul Kenyon: Biography
09 Nov 05 |  Crossing Continents

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