Indigenous peoples in Botswana
The Botswana government does not recognize any specific ethnic groups as indigenous to the country, maintaining instead that all citizens of the country are indigenous.
3.3% of the population in Botswana considers itself to be indigenous. There are no specific laws on indigenous peoples’ rights in Botswana nor is the concept of indigenous peoples included in the Constitution since the Botswana government does not recognize any specific groups as indigenous to the country, maintaining instead that all citizens of the country are indigenous.
The San of Botswana
Some groups in Botswana however maintain that they are indigenous, including the San (known in Botswana as the Basarwa) who, in July 2015, numbered some 62,500 persons.
The San in Botswana were traditionally seen as hunter-gatherers but, in fact, the vast majority of them are small-scale agropastoralists, cattle post workers or people with mixed economies who reside both in rural and urban areas, especially in the Kalahari Desert and in the eastern part of the country.
Subdivision of the San
The San are sub-divided in Botswana into a large number of named groups, most of whom speak their own mother-tongue. Some of these groups include the:
Other indigenous peopels inhabiting the southern part of the Botswana are the:
- Balala, who number some 1,700 in Southern (Ngwaketse) District and extending into Kgalagadi District
- Nama, a Khoekhoe-speaking people who number 2,100 are also found in the south, extending into Namibia and South Africa
The San, along with the Balala and Nama are some of the poorest and most underprivileged peoples in Botswana, with a high percentage of them living below the poverty line.
Legislation Concerning Indigenous Peoples
Botswana is a signatory to the:
- Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)
- Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
- Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD)
In 2007, Botswana voted in favor of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)
Botswana has not signed the only international human rights convention that deals with indigenous peoples, ILO Convention No. 169.
There are no specific laws on indigenous peoples’ rights in the country nor is the concept of indigenous peoples included in the Botswana Constitution.