Before Farming

Kalahari San foraging, land use, and territoriality

implications for the future

Before Farming (2007), 2007, (3), 1–14.

Abstract

On December 13th, 2006, the San and Bakgalagadi of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve won an important legal victory in the High Court of Botswana after a long and expensive legal case. The decisions of the three High Court judges guaranteed that people who had been removed from their ancestral territories in the Central Kalahari would be allowed the right of return, and they would be able to gather and hunt as long as they had subsistence hunting licences. The attorney general of the Government of Botswana ruled that people returning to the reserve would not be allowed access to services, including schools, health posts, and water facilities.

The question remains, will people who have been living settled lives and who have had livelihood supports provided by government and non-governmental organisations be able to sustain themselves as foragers again in the Central Kalahari? In order to evaluate this question, information on San mobility, land use, territoriality, foraging, farming, and socioeconomic organisation were compiled. It is concluded that returning to a foraging lifeway in the future will pose both challenges and opportunities. Efforts will need to be made to ensure that the people returning to the Central Kalahari are able to draw upon scientific and cultural knowledge, traditions, and practices from a wide range of sources and have water provided by the state if they are to be able to sustain themselves over the long term.

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Author details

Hitchcock, Robert

Babchuk, Wayne