INDEPENDENT NEWS

Bushman Laureate: Without Land We Die

Published: Fri 9 Dec 2005 09:33 AM
Bushman 'Alternative Nobel' Laureate: Without Our Land We Are Dying
Kalahari Bushman Roy Sesana will receive the 'Alternative Nobel Prize' on 9 December, and will tell the world, ''My people love their land, and without it we are dying.'
Sesana and First People of the Kalahari (FPK), the grass-roots organisation of the Gana and Gwi Bushmen of Botswana, have won the Right Livelihood Award for 'resolute resistance against eviction from their ancestral lands.'
The Gana and Gwi have been evicted from their land by the Botswana government. They have been arrested, beaten, tortured and banned from hunting and gathering, and all the FPK's leadership were arrested in September and are being charged for trying to enter the reserve. At least one Bushman is known to have died of starvation inside the reserve, which has been sealed off by the government.
Sesana will tell journalists and fellow laureates at the award ceremony in the Swedish Parliament, 'They said we had to go because of diamonds. Then they said we were killing too many animals: but that's not true. They say many things which aren't true. They said we had to move so the government could develop us.
'I say what kind of development is it when the people live shorter lives than before? They catch HIV/AIDS. Our children are beaten in school and won't go there. Some become prostitutes. They are not allowed to hunt. They fight because they are bored and get drunk. They are starting to commit suicide. We never saw that before. It hurts to say this. Is this 'development'?
'We are not primitive. We live differently to you, but we do not live exactly like our grandparents did, nor do you. Were your ancestors 'primitive'? I don't think so. We respect our ancestors. We love our children. This is the same for all people. We now have to stop the government stealing our land: without it we will die.
'If anyone has read a lot of books and thinks I am primitive because I have not read even one, then he should throw away those books and get one which says we are all brothers and sisters under God and we too have a right to live.'
To read Roy Sesana's acceptance speech in full visit Full Speech
For information about the award go to: rightlivelihood
Notes to Editors:
Past winners of the Prize include Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai, and Nigerian Ken Saro-Wiwa.
The FPK's leader Roy Sesana is the first Botswana-born winner of the prize.

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