Anna Stadler from Linköping University, Department of Anthropology (Sweden) has conducted a study of the relocation of the G//ana and G/wi San from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana. Her essay discusses how conservation policies, development programs and eco-tourism projects have been implemented in the Central Kalahari, and the consequences these policies have had for the people who first inhabited of the area. Excerpts from the conclusion:
The Botswana government has encouraged the local inhabitants of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve to resettle, as the San has been accused of poaching, and it is claimed that the tourists who come to Central Kalahari wish to see unspoiled wilderness. (...) As the San are being removed from the reserve, and more tourists are brought in, the area’s attraction as a reserve seems to have only to do with its value as a resource for tourism.
Prejudice, discrimination and racism still stand in the way for development in Botswana. In the space of a few years, Botswana has been transformed into one of Africa’s richest countries, with an economic growth that has prompted a massive social change. In wealthy Botswana, hunting and gathering are clear indicators of poverty. The solution to this poverty is believed to be assimilation into the dominant Botswana society.
Having the apartheid regime of neighbouring South Africa in thought, at independence the Botswana regime decided to ignore any cultural differences among its people. Black or white, cattle-owner or huntergatherer, everybody was to be treated as if they were the same. Consequently, poverty, not discrimination, was seen to be the main problem of the San. The relocation-program has thus a lot to do with the governments attempt to assimilate a people they regard as being “backward”.