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San people resist civilisation: Mugabe

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PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe on Sunday said the San community in Tsholotsho are resisting integration with neighbouring communities, saying they were refusing to get more civilised.

REPORT BY NQOBILE BHEBHE

Speaking at a memorial service for the late Vice-President John Nkomo, who succumbed to cancer in January this year, Mugabe said the Landa John Nkomo High School still had little appeal among the San.

“I used to ask John: ‘How are you treating them?’ He would say: ‘They look after my cattle, but we have tried to get them to the culture of going to school and getting more civilised, but some of them continue to resist’,” he said.

“When he formulated the idea of the secondary school, I still asked: ‘Will you have room for the Bushmen?’ He said: ‘Yes, yes, yes of course’.”

Mugabe said the community still liked the “bush and meat more than we do”.

“But last night (Saturday) when I met Jabu (Nkomo’s son), he was telling me that they are facing challenges in getting some children from the Bushmen to attend school. It is still a difficult exercise,” he said.

“He (Jabulani) said the number is four or five. So they still want to just look after cattle and be in the bush. They have a culture which is very resistant to change.”

Mugabe said the government had a responsibility of treating the Bushmen equally with other tribes.

“We know in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa they have a similar problem of the Bushmen, but they are trying,” Mugabe said.

“John used to talk much about them. When they are together, they like slaughtering cattle and like meat more than we do and we should make sure we acculturate them.”

The San people, also known as the Bushmen or Basarwa, inhabit remote areas of southern Africa, particularly Angola, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Recently, Education minister David Coltart called for urgent government intervention to address what he called the marginalisation of the San community.

“It is a marginalised community and we will have to assist them with policy implementation to address their problems on education,” Coltart was quoted saying after meeting San community leaders in Bulawayo.

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