Kalahari, A Bushmen Benefit in London

London, England – After a successful summer in the festival fields, the Synergy Community is returning to London to host another series of conscious gatherings. The first of these is a benefit night featuring world music artists, produced in partnership with Tribal Vibrationz, in aid of the Bushmen of the Kalahari, who -according to the organizers- are suffering forced relocation from their ancestral lands and are subjected to beatings and torture if they attempt to return.

The event will be heldFriday 23rd September 2005 at The London School of Economics, Houghton Street, London WC2A. Ticket prices are: £10 (adv, before 11am) £12 otherwise. Proceeds from the event will be donated to Survival International, who campaign on behalf of the Bushmen in Botswana and to the Omaheke San Trust, who work with the San Bushmen in Namibia.“We live at a time when we face some of the greatest challenges of our history. Can we afford to lose a people and culture which has understood and lived for thousands of years in harmony with an ecosystem which we seem to be fighting a losing battle with? Can we afford to let a vast repository of spiritual and human understanding which could benefit us all be destroyed to make way for more mines and factories which would only benefit some?” – Toby (Banco de Gaia)

Survival International, the NGO that campaigns in support of tribal people’s
worldwide, is working in partnership with the Bushmen’s own organization ‘First
People of the Kalahari’ to highlight the alleged role of mining giant De Beers in the
relocation of the Bushmen. According to a Survival International press release:

Diamonds are vital to the Botswana economy, with De Beers and the government enjoying a relationship described by President Festus Mogae as akin to that of Siamese twins. The forced relocations have run parallel to prospecting by De Beers for diamonds in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve where the Bushmen live. Yet again, distant and corrupt political elites are working with powerful, private financial interests to confiscate land from its ancient guardians in order to maximize the material wealth of the few at the expense of the many, symptomatic of a culture of exploitation and greed that is sowing the seeds for progressive environmental degradation and imminent crisis.”

As well as drawing attention to the plight facing the Bushmen, the Kalahari night seeks to raise awareness of how traditional and indigenous cultures must be protected as an integral part of global bio-diversity. As the environmental costs of unfettered material growth and consumption are becoming increasingly
apparent, indigenous cultures can offer much needed spiritual guidance that can
inspire us to adopt ethically and ecologically sustainable lifestyles rather
than continue with the reckless consumer capitalism that takes no account of the
social and environmental costs. Such issues have long been close to the hearts
of the alternative dance community. Often this has taken the form of producers
and promoters appropriating the imagery, sounds and costume of non-western
cultures with little thought for the wider social or economic context, not least
the poverty and marginalization faced by societies at the harsh end of global
economic inequalities. By hosting a benefit night in support of one of the
world’s most ancient and marginalized cultures, Kalahari seeks to go some way
towards correcting this imbalance.

The Kalahari line-up features a long awaited return to the capital by world-dance pioneer Banco de Gaia, creator of the ground-breaking album Last Train to Lhasa, which sought to raise awareness of the destruction of ancient Tibetan wisdom and knowledge through the Chinese invasion of their country. Also performing are Kakatsitsi, Master Drummers from Ghana, one of Africa’s finest drumming groups, who will be performing their club-fusion set, layering the organic sounds of traditional drumming and chanting onto a western dance track composed by world-dance producer Greg Hunter. Also appearing are Gaudi’s Live
Dub Laboratory
, best described as roots dub with eclectic global influences,
mixing cutting-edge and vintage old-school technology with acoustic instruments.
Tribal décor, information stalls, films and speakers, plus the legendary Synergy
conscious community vibes promise a unique and inspiring night out.

Advance tickets from Access All Areas.
Phone: +44 0207 267 8320.
Or call 07989519368 for info and tickets

Profits of this event will be split between Omaheke San Trust, Survival-International and the
Synergy community centre.

Mogetse’s testimony on relocation from the Kalahari:

I was born in this place and I have been here for a very long time. Now this
relocation thing has come, but I don’t have the full truth about it. They come
and say that I have to move, that this place is for animals. But why must I move
and leave the animals? I was born with them and I must stay with them. I have
that right

Mogetse Kaboikanyo was a Kgalagadi man who lived alongside the Gana and Gwi Bushmen in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. In February 2002, he was forcibly relocated to a camp outside the reserve. He died just four months later. He was probably in his fifties; his friends said his heart stopped beating. After years of struggling to remain on his land, Mogetse was buried in the desolate relocation camp, far from his ancestors’ graves.

Survival and Bushmen info

BBC’s John Simpson on the Bushmen

Map finder for LSE: http://www.multimap.com

[Photos: Bushmen photos courtesy of survival international. Photo 2: Toby Keith, Banco de Gaia].