Ancestral land and the San

05 December 2018 | Columns

It should come as no surprise that marginalised communities such as the San, Ovatue and Ovatjimba are still living in extreme poverty, with little access to basic necessities or rights.

According to deputy director of marginalised communities in the Office of the Vice-President, Gerson Kamatuka, the San are shut out of development opportunities or access to basic rights because they do not meet the necessary requirements to benefit.

He added that the San are also unable to apply for resettlement farms because of the stringent requirements.

“That is why our department is now appealing that these requirements be reconsidered, so that they can apply with just a chicken or a dog,” said Kamatuka.

His department has also reached out to the police and requested for a quota through which a number of San can be recruited into the force.

He added that the tendency to build schools in urban areas also negatively affects the San who live in “mountains” and “valleys”.

This is a sad state of affairs indeed, which continues to destroy southern Africa's earliest known inhabitants. These hunter-gatherers roamed the vast plains of southern Africa for thousands of years before migrants armed with weapons and searching for new land on which to graze their animals and plant their grain, drove them further and further east into the Kalahari Desert, according to historical records.

Most San people now live or work on farms or live in remote communal areas in Otjozondjupa and Omusati.

The wealth of rock paintings and engravings found in mountains and hills throughout Namibia bear witness to the San's former habitation in many parts of the country. The oldest rock art dates back some 28 000 years.

During Independence Day celebrations in 2017, President Hage Geingob said explicitly that the San, who have largely been left out of the current discussions around ancestral land, have “more of a right to claim a large proportion of this country's land”.

This issue should be tackled in the upcoming commission on ancestral land.

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