Bushmen's agonising trek to return home

December 20, 2004

This page was created in 2004 and may contain language which is now outdated.

Bushmen who were evicted by the government from their homes in the Kalahari are braving exhaustion and starvation to return to their land.

In one incident, two grandmothers in their seventies attempted to walk home by themselves – a distance of approximately 120 kms. After they had walked around half the distance, they were forced to accept a lift back to the resettlement camp as one of them was near to collapse. Temperatures in the Kalahari at this time of year reach over 100º F (39º C), and the risk of dehydration and exhaustion is high.

In a separate incident, a Bushman woman and her three small children narrowly escaped attack by lions as they trekked back to their old home in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. The driver of a passing vehicle noticed the tracks of two lions following the family's footprints. The lions were only two hundred metres from the woman and her children when the vehicle scared them away. Such a trek would usually be undertaken as a group, with the men armed with spears against a lion attack. It is a measure of the Bushmen's desperation that they would make such a journey alone.

The Botswana government evicted all but a few of the Gana and Gwi Bushmen from their land in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in 2002. Dumped in eviction sites far from their homes, many have succumbed to depression, alcoholism and prostitution. Over two hundred Gana and Gwi have now returned to the reserve despite government harassment.

Photos and footage available. For more information contact Miriam Ross on (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or email [email protected]