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Author Topic: Support the Kalahari Bushmen
Mr. D. W.
Babbler # 5708

posted 30 October 2004 01:52 PM      Profile for Mr. D. W.   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Nharo!, a local fair-trade company, is holding open houses to sell Bushman/San handicrafts Nov. 10, 11 and 13 at 50 Queen St. N., Kitchener, Suite 560.

Take the time to come by and meet Nharo! founder Paul Wellhauser.

Hours are 6 to 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Items for sale include ostrich-bead bracelets, bows and arrows, paintings, prints, musical instruments and more. For more information, call 747-4343 or 576-4357, or see

The following is from the October 23, 2004 KW Record:

Fair trade for fine skills

WATERLOO REGION (Oct 23, 2004)

At night, the moon is so bright it casts a shadow. As the sky darkens and the stars come out, families gather around fires to swap stories and spend time together. Some of the women make ostrich-eggshell beads by firelight, continuing what may be the world's oldest artistic tradition.

There's no electricity and no running water. But laughter comes readily to people's lips and although nobody has much, they share what they have, says Waterloo resident Paul Wellhauser.

During his three visits to Botswana, which totalled a year, he made many friends among the people commonly known as Bushmen.

That's why he started a fair- trade company, Nharo!, to market their arts and crafts and provide them with independent incomes.

Wellhauser, 28, doesn't look like a hippie or a crusader. Neatly dressed and short-haired, he has a business degree from Wilfrid Laurier University and spent three years doing marketing and business development for a local software firm.

His world changed when he went to Botswana in 2002 to work with a human-rights agency. There, he learned of the complex issues facing the indigenous peoples of the region.

The Botswanan government, he says, has been aggressively pursuing a policy of evicting indigenous peoples from their traditional lands in the Kalahari. In their new settlements, they can't hunt and gather as they used to and problems such as unemployment, alcoholism and HIV-AIDS start to take root.

In some of the older settlements, traditions are fading. The young don't learn the skills they need to hunt effectively in the desert. Tools and weapons aren't as well made.

Indigenous leaders have to walk a fine line between helping their people keep their culture and adapting to realities such as a monetary economy.

Wellhauser sees Nharo! -- named after one of the seven tribes he works with -- as a way to help with both goals without doling out handouts. He buys directly from the artists whenever he can and always pays at least the price locally established as fair.

For particularly beautiful or authentically made items -- an anthropologist taught him to distinguish between slapdash tourist crafts and the real thing -- he pays more.

This summer, at festivals from Detroit to Montreal, he sold bracelets, spears, paintings and more. He found people eager to learn about an ancient but unfamiliar artistic tradition.

Although Nharo! just barely broke even this year, it's based on a sound business plan, said Wellhauser. "It's not a charity. It's an ethical business."

The indigenous peoples of the Kalahari have no collective name for themselves but share certain commonalities in language, culture -- and now, political ambitions.

Led by two Bushman activists, Roy Sesana and Jumanta Gakelebone, with the aid of international human rights organizations, they're taking the Bots- wanan government to court for what they consider their illegal eviction from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.

Sometimes called San or Basarwa -- both non-indigenous names that carry derogatory connotations -- many now accept the label "Bushman" as the best of a bad lot.

Golden-skinned and slight, they're traditionally nomadic hunter-gatherers. Originally they inhabited much of sub-Saharan Africa, but in the last few thousand years they were pushed further south and on to marginal lands by invading darker-skinned tribes from further north.

The ancient languages they speak contain sounds best described as clicks, formed by sucking the back of the teeth, flicking the tongue down from the roof of the mouth or sucking air in through the side of the mouth.

Their ancestors started making ostrich-eggshell beads some 70,000 years ago. Many archeologists consider the beads the world's oldest evidence of symbolic thought in humans.

Though once they numbered in the millions, today they make up just three per cent of the Botswana's population, about the same percentage that aboriginal people represent in Canada.

In the early 1960s, the departing British colonists established the Central Kalahari Game Reserve to protect the animals of the arid plains and the nomadic peoples who relied on them to maintain their way of life.

Over the years, certain modern facilities reached the region. Wells were dug and airstrips built. Some Bushman people started using dogs and horses to assist with hunting. Still, many traditions remained strong.

Then the first diamond deposit was discovered in the area in the early 1980s. South African diamond giant De Beers later formed a 50/50 partnership with the Botswanan government to form Debswana, which controls all diamond mining in the country.

In 1986, the Botswanan government began their policy of moving people out of the game reserve. Some left voluntarily, but in 1997, the first forcible evictions began, ripping people away not only from their land but a major part of their culture.

"Any time you speak to Bushmen, they always say how important it is to be close to where their ancestors are," said Wellhauser.

In 2002, the government shut down all services in the area. They destroyed the wells many had come to rely on, stopped trucking in water and dumped out all remaining water stores. British journalist Sandy Gall witnessed government trucks full of Bushman people being driven out of the reserve.

"There are people who went hunting, and when they came back, their families were gone," said Wellhauser.

Although there are more tribes living nomadically in other Kalahari countries, in Botswana, only an estimated 50 hunter-gatherers remain deep in the game reserve, relying on plants and traditional knowledge to survive the dry season, said Wellhauser.

De Beers and the Botswana government deny the tribes' eviction has anything to do with diamonds. There are no immediate plans to mine, they say.

The Botswanan government insists it is trying to help what it calls "remote area dwellers." A government website says Botswana is "encouraging these people to move to areas outside the reserve in order that they may be provided with modem facilities, schools, clinics, etc. and to integrate them into modern society."

Some activists, however, maintain it was more expensive to relocate tribes than to provide a basic level of services to the game reserve. Bushman leaders remain convinced they were kicked out because of the diamonds.

Wellhauser isn't sure what motivated the evictions. But the bottom line, he says, is that the indigenous peoples themselves were never consulted.

That, in his eyes, makes it wrong.

Despite his protestations, Wellhauser is more than a businessman. He also works with tribal leaders and politicians to raise awareness about their plight in Canada.

Sesana and Gakelebone, who have already toured Europe and the U.S., have enlisted his help in making contact with Canadian First Nations leaders and human rights groups to plan a fundraising trip to Canada.

On his next trip back to southern Africa in November, he's planning to do more than buy crafts.

He'll travel with a Bushman member of parliament from Namibia to research how more remote tribes are getting along in Botswana, Namibia, Angola and South Africa. In consultation with tribal elders, they plan to do what they can to help out those in the most precarious situations.

To reach the most inaccessible areas of the Kalahari, they'll need two four-wheel-drives outfitted with full survival equipment. Still, Wellhauser knows things will go wrong.

"Over there, things that should be easy aren't," said Wellhauser. "I never know what the next problem will be. That's part of the fun."

On a previous trip, he ran into donkeys on a road and had to spend three days getting his car fixed. He's been ripped off, had gasoline spilled all over his luggage and once spent six hours on a stop-and-lurch bus to travel a mere 200 kilometres.

Still, he feels secure with the Bushman. "I'm with the ultimate survivors so I don't have to worry."

[email protected]


Nharo! is holding open houses to sell Bushman/San handicrafts Nov. 10, 11 and 13 at 50 Queen St. N., Kitchener, Suite 560.

Hours are 6 to 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Items for sale include ostrich-bead bracelets, bows and arrows, paintings, prints, musical instruments and more. For more information, call 747-4343 or 576-4357, or see

From: Waterloo | Registered: May 2004  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 5546

posted 30 October 2004 06:21 PM      Profile for fuslim     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Those interested in the Bushmen of the Kahlahari may want to read two books by Laurens Van Der Post, "The Lost World Of The Kalahari" and, "The Heart Of The Hunter".

The Lost World of Kalahari (1958) and The Heart of The Hunter (1961) brought international attention to the Kalahari and the Bushmen.

Van der Post's expedition to the Kalahari in 1955 produced a six-part BBC series, which made an immense impact all round the word. The series made van der Post a television personality.

He was also considered an authority on Bushman folklore and culture. "I was compelled towards the Bushmen," he said, "like someone who walks in his sleep, obedient to a dream of finding in the dark what the day has denied him."

I can testify that both books are worth reading - "The Heart Of The Hunter" stays with me to this day, many years after having read it.

From: Vancouver BC | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 478

posted 31 October 2004 06:32 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
This thread might profit from being transferred to Activism.
From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged

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