Namibia: Brutal Mistreatment of Indigenous Community Must End

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Target: San Development Program Deputy Director, Gerson Hizembi Kamatuka

Goal: End rampant discrimination against native San peoples

In Namibia, San natives (or Bushmen) face extreme amounts of unchecked exploitation and discrimination. Of all other Namibian ethnic groups, the San endure the highest rates of hunger, tuberculosis, and infant mortality. Their leaders plead the government and the world to stop employers on conservancy land from raping their women. As these atrocities continue, and more land is stripped from them without any consultation, the continued survival of the San becomes increasingly bleak.

Should blatant prejudice and selfish economic interest prevail, Africa and the rest of humanity will lose the wisdom and beauty of a people who have sustained their way of life for tens of thousands of years on Africa’s plains. A spokesman for the Namibian San Council recently stated, “All we are asking is to be treated equal. It is our right and we are not asking for charity.”

He went on to say that many government officials describe them as “useless.” If a people who have sustained themselves and their way of life for tens of thousands of years is “useless,” then what does that make the modern world which is on a fast track to global destruction? Hopelessly arrogant would be putting it nicely.

If genuine efforts were made to reach out to the San in earnest, mutual dialogue, then these ignorant officials, and the constituency they represent, may discover the value in the enduring intelligence of a culture which has sustained itself for thousands of years. Those modern representatives may find they have something to learn from the original stewards of Namibian land.

Programs have been introduced recently which foster inclusion and respect of this marginalized community. For example, an advanced university course on the rights of indigenous peoples will be brought to the University of Namibia in 2013. Other cultural exchange studies are also currently under way.

These are steps in the right direction, but much more needs to be done to disrupt the trend of widespread social prejudice and exploitation of the San. Sign this petition and call upon Namibia’s federal community to recognize the equality and inclusion the San deserve as fellow human beings.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Deputy Director Kamatuka,

In Namibia, tens of thousands of years before arbitrary lines were drawn and conservation plots defined, the San people (Bushmen) roamed and nurtured the country you now call home. It is still very much their home, just as it is yours, however they do not currently enjoy the same rights that you and any other citizen is entitled to.

Blatant discrimination and exploitation continues to be their reality within Namibia’s borders. The San have the highest rates of infant mortality, tuberculosis and hunger of any Namibian ethnic group. San leaders lament that government officials repeatedly refer to them as a “useless” group of people who seek only charity. As a people who have sustained themselves for thousands of years, the last thing they need is charity. The first thing they deserve is equality.

As a leader in the Prime Minister’s Division for San Development, it is imperative that you provide long-term solutions to ensuring the future of the San. University education programs are a good start, but implementing and enforcing strict consultation and protection laws would be even better. I urge you to prioritize these much needed solutions so that the San are afforded the justice and respect that they deserve.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

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One Comment

  1. i fully support this compaign. it is heartbreaking to see and hear how the san people are mistreated and no justice for this poor people. the government is doing little to protect them, they need to be made aware of their rights as citizens of this country. we sing about independent and free namibia, but our fellow san people are stil under bondage. young san girls and boys are deprived their of education, they are labourer at cattle posts. the namibian government is condoning this kind of behaviour. the culprits must be brought to justice. they (san) are the first inhabitants of southern africa, and today they have no land they call theirs.

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