Lost Lands? (Land) Rights of the San in Botswana and the legal concept of indigeneity in Africa

Author: Manuela Zips-Mairitsch
Number of pages: 431
ISBN number: 978-87-92786-35-7
Country publication is about: Botswana, Botsuana
Region publication is about: Africa, África
Release year: 2013

Tags: Land rights

In this book, the author processes the detailed descriptions of a land rights dispute in Botswana in such a way that its instructive relevance for fundamental questions of intercultural justice becomes obvious. The case of the present book is the High Court of Botswana’s decision of the case Sesana v. the Attorney General in late 2006. The case of Sesana v. the Attorney General In this case, 215 individual San claimants took legal steps against their relocation from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve as well as the denial of hunting licenses. Furthermore, they criticized the discontinuation of state infrastructure and welfare benefits. After 130 days of trial and almost 19,000 pages of minutes, this was the most comprehensive case any court in Botswana had ever had. At the same time, the book shows the limits of the claimants’ legal strategy: although significant progress has been made in recognizing the land rights of indigenous peoples in the last few years it becomes clear how difficult it is to implement this progress for the benefit of a community’s way of life like the San. The San of Botwswana The present book describes how Botswana’s San have been dominated by other (Bantu-speaking) groups in the country. This domination has not only forced the San into the characteristically marginal position they assume today, it has also established rules of statehood, which block out the cultural logics and social patterns of the San. This can be seen most clearly in cases where the state of Botswana neither recognizes the San’s characteristic forms of resource use nor their forms of social coexistence. A case of indigenous rights By analysing how a small and marginalized group fights for their “lost lands and how ethnic groups mobilize and take up the discourse of indigenous rights this book addresses the issue of how indigenous peoples around the world can use their indigenous rights to fight for their lands. The African context in particular makes it possible to emphasize the essence of this legal discourse – a discourse that has become crucial in many countries of the world and is globally based on one of the most dynamic new social movements of our time.
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