Jailed for Saying Botswana President “Looks Like a Bushman”

Botswana’s persecution of the Bushmen has continued under President Khama.

A South African woman who said Botswana’s president ‘looks like a Bushman’ was arrested, detained for two days and fined for ‘insulting Botswana’.

Dorsey Dube was arrested after commenting on a portrait of President Khama at a control post on the Botswana-South Africa border. She said the President looked like her friend’s father, who has Bushman features.

The deeply-entrenched racist attitudes of many people in authority in Botswana towards the Bushmen were starkly revealed, however, when the authorities assumed it was meant as an insult. Survival International is sending a report on the incident to the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Ms Dube says she was held at the police station and not allowed to call anyone in South Africa for assistance, though her friends did eventually reach help. She was released after spending a night in a prison cell and a further full day in custody.

President Khama (who is himself half-British) has referred to the Bushmen’s way of life as an ‘archaic fantasy’. The government has banned them from hunting for food or accessing water on their land, in a bid to force the Bushmen to abandon their land and lifestyle.

A tourist lodge built on the Bushmen’s land is allowed to use all the water it needs, on condition that it does not provide the Bushmen with any.

President Ian Khama, who was returned to office after elections in October, is a board member of Conservation International.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘You couldn’t have clearer evidence of the racism towards Bushmen in Botswana than this incident. A South African person thought resembling a Bushman was complimentary, but Botswana officials took it as an insult. It’s doubly tragic when you consider that President Khama’s father, the country’s first President, himself endured a great deal of racist abuse from the colonial authorities for marrying a British woman, and that he promised the country’s Bushmen that their rights would always be protected.’

Survival International, founded in 1969 after an article by Norman Lewis in the UK's Sunday Times highlighted the massacres, land thefts and genocide taking place in Brazilian Amazonia, is the only international organization supporting tribal peoples worldwide. Contact Survival International at: info@survival-international.org. Read other articles by Survival International, or visit Survival International's website.

4 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on November 14th, 2009 at 12:23pm #

    Can anyone imagine how’d i feel if dorsey wld say that i look like ariel sharon?
    I’d be more than insulted; i’d expel her to israel and have her have a look at real sharon or jerry lewis.
    Kalaharis have a lot nicer noses and ears than even me let alone most whites.
    They are also better colored than whites, Actually, the white skin looks sickly!

  2. B99 said on November 15th, 2009 at 7:23am #

    Bozh – You are pandering. Racial self-deprecation is not an attractive quality.

  3. bozh said on November 15th, 2009 at 7:57am #

    I often joke about nationalism, ethnocentrism, supremacism, cultishness, bible, quran, torah.
    However, ridiculing deformed and disinformed lewis and sharon in order also to express deep hatred for their supremacistic thinking, their choseness-cultishness, may have crossed the line. Any opinions by people who deeply abhor ‘jewishness’ on my bad joking on some ‘jews’ look?

  4. B99 said on November 15th, 2009 at 8:22am #

    Safe to say that all Israeli leaders over their entire history are dead ringers for trolls. Of course, trolls would protest.