Tuesday, October 17, 2006

There has been this big debate in Botswana and internationally as well with the Botswana government and Survival International and the Basarwa a.k.a Bushmen.

This issue is so big that our President Festus Mogae did the rounds at Washington DC last week.

What I don't understand is the way people are so quick to believe or agree on something they themselves have no idea about, or understanding. All they do is read some pamphlet organised by an NGO they have no idea about or the motives of that NGO and think that that is the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Well the reality is that diamonds are a big part in the development of Botswana. It was the truth when the President said to buy a Botswana diamond is to support an orphan, fight poverty, ignorance and disease. Before diamonds where discovered by De Beers, Botswana was the poorest nation in Africa. Almost all of the population was below the poverty line. With the discovery of diamonds come development to Botswana in its social infrastructure. Batswana people,thanks to revenue generated by the diamonds, have access to free education, free health, job creation and a stable currency. We are now considered a middle income country thanks to these diamonds.

Botswana I'm sure is one of the few countries that gives its people free tertiary education and also a generous allowance while attended to their tertiary education. Parents do not have to worry about their children's education. Would it have been all possible if it won't for the revenue from the diamonds? I think not. Botswana's gross domestic product was $16.8 billion in 2005, of which about a third was derived from diamond investments. If we allow for Survival International to ruin Botswana's diamonds by unfounded allegations then all these developments will seize to exist and where will the nation stand?

Survival International seems to think that the Basarwa's are people separated from the rest of society, but they are wrong. Basarwa's are Batswana in their own right and they have the right to these developments derived from diamonds. Their children have they right to free education just like the rest of the nation and I'm sure Survival doesn't tell the world about Basarwa's who are educated and are productive members of society thanks to the free education in Botswana. I'm also sure that Survival hasn't put pictures of the place where the Basarwa's are being allocated to compared to where they where living before. If they did, then people will not be quick to denounce the government's intentions. Is it ok for a British NGO to come and tell us Batswana that we should stick to the olden way of living in our mud/straw huts and our hunting and gathering ways instead of growing with the rest of world? It is good to remember where we come from and keep the values and cultures of those days but not for it to keep us from evolving with the rest of the world. Instead of cattle farming, it is now globalisation. I'm sure the British have also given up their own olden traditions to modern day living. The government of Botswana is not saying to the Basarwa give up your culture and values, but it is instead giving them opportunities to improve their way of living. Of having running clean water, closer access of health clinics and hospitals and a school next door so that children don't have to walk long hours to their school. To those who disagree with this, I question their motives. Is it because they want to have a real show of Africans living in mud huts when they come for their African safaris instead of Africans having brick homes, in-door plumbing, air-cons, cars. This view of African does not go with their view of Africa and the images shown by western media.

No comments: