‘The Kalahari will die before us…’

Posted on 02 December 2011 by admin

By Joseph Bushby – Winelands Echo*

Isak and Toppies Kruiper at COP 17

Isak Kruiper fears his generation will outlive its home in the Kalahari desert. Credit: Ramatamo wa Matamong/TerraViva

DURBAN, Dec 2 — (TerraViva) Isak and Toppies Kruiper have made their way across the country with a message, travelling all the way from their home in the Kalahari Desert of South Africa’s Northern Cape Province to the United Nations Climate Conference taking place in the port city of Durban on the eastern coast.

The two men have come to the 17th Conference of Parties (COP 17) following in the footsteps of David Kruiper, the late headman of the Bushmen, who worked throughout his life to defend the rights and way of life of his people.

Jy weet, ek was gebore in die Kalahari,” says Isak Kruiper. “I was born and bred in the Kalahari. I love the Kalahari and would like to someday die in the Kalahari. But what is busy happening now, it looks to me that the Kalahari will die before us. And that is the reason why we are here at COP17.”

The two men spoke to TerraViva outside Durban’s International Convention Centre, slightly awed by their surroundings but determined to get their message across.

“We don’t know all the fancy technology of today we are just ordinary people who wants ordinary things. Look after our kids and the Kalahari,” Kruiper continued.

“The Kalahari, where we stay, is hot and dry and getting increasingly hotter and dryer by the day. The natural resources that we had, like the vegetation, are dying out due to the very little rain and this makes food scarce for the wild (animals), so they move further and further away from us. You know we cannot jump over the fences but they can.”

According to a report from the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, rising temperatures, dune expansion and increased wind speeds results in the loss of vegetation and impacts on traditional cattle and goat farming practices.

The Bushmen are in many cases forced to live near boreholes drilled by the government, dependent on these for water.

Global warming is also causing similar problems elsewhere – in the Namib Desert, indigenous people are struggling to make a living. Far away in Asia, herders in Mongolia are enduring winters with temperatures more than 30 degrees below zero, killing off livestock and driving them to settle in towns.

Back in the Kalahari, Isak Kruiper fears for his way of life. “It becomes impossible to transfer our indigenous knowledge to our kids, because we must always look for something to eat. We want the government and every concerned group to please listen and help us.”

Met armoede gaan ons te gronde,” said Kruiper.  “Any help to the San communities would be welcome and appreciated.”

* Community media coverage of COP 17 is being supported by the Media Development & Diversity Agency of South Africa, which is promoting the participation of local journalists through a programme of training and reporting on climate change.



2 Comments For This Post

  1. Nolan Says:

    Yes, Mr Kruiper there are numerous socio economic problems in Platfontein where more than 6000 souls live with the reality that 90% are unemployed. Col Fanie De Villiers indicates that the South African San Institute is doing their best for the community in social upliftment. The shame is that millions of Western Cape San are in denial of their heritage. It is a shame that you are forgotten by your own in the Western Cape.
    IBM in the early 70′s based social intelligence methods for computer cloud computing on the communicating methods of the San communities. The global community today benefits because of research done in earlier San communities. We salute your past leaders Mario Mahongo, Kamamma Mukua, Matokka Matheus and Antonio Saboa. For a bushman, like myself, I find joy in global skywalking through the levels of time, grounded in San culture.
    Mr Kruiper, with globalisation the future for a misguided Western Cape community lies in reaching to our ancient culture that exist amongst your people. We salute you in promoting biodiversity and environmental issues.

  2. Patrick Says:

    The recognition of minorities is long overdue. The fact that this issue had to be rise at a conference of this nature is a tad dissapointing. Society are so caught up in there survival mode, they forget about the poor and previously marginalised. The writer did well to highlight this matter for the umpteeth time.

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