01 February 2011

The People defeat the Government

On a related note...

In response to this story announcing that Botswana's Bushmen will be able to drill for water on their traditional lands, Jamie Workman (author of Heart of Dryness [five stars]) offered this guest post:

This important ruling comes as a huge relief, not only to the Bushmen families who have been separated for years, but to the deeply conflicted citizens of Botswana and to sympathetic outsiders who could not fight their fight for them, but only watch as this long saga played out.

It remains to be seen whether the government will comply with the ruling. It has indicated it would do so, but officials made the same public statement five years ago while then quietly escalating its policy of exclusion, harrassment and arrests of Bushmen. I hope this time they mean what they say.

Some of my friends claim that this victory was the direct result of a U.N. resolution supporting a human right to water. Perhaps, although Botswana, like the U.S., abstained from voting on that measure, and in any case such a global privilege handed down from on high can always be rescinded or ignored. The only human rights that endure are fought for by those who resolve to never let go.

In that respect I believe this ruling is in fact a victory for those extraodinary, intransigent and resilient individuals who -- against the sometimes violent wishes of their elected leaders, a multinational conglomerate, and even many social and wildlife activists -- voted with their feet and remained in place. Instead of caving in (like the rest of us) to the temptation of comfortable dependency on a centralized absolute water monpoly, these men, women and children chose the harder but far more responsible life of thirsty freedom and autonomy to live, and die, on their own terms.

Bottom Line: I shall continue to let their brave example trouble my conscience and inspire my choices.

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