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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:At the Ends of the Ladder: Radical Inequalities in Botswana
Author:Good, KennethISNI
Periodical:Journal of Modern African Studies
Geographic term:Botswana
Subjects:social inequality
income distribution
Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment
Economics and Trade
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/161002
Abstract:Botswana ranks very high in sub-Saharan Africa in income per capita, and in such indicators of human development as public expenditure on health and education. Nevertheless, inequalities of wealth and income are particularly severe, in both international and domestic comparisons. No people in Botswana today are poorer or weaker than the Basarwa or San. This article first examines how contemporary inequalities in Botswana came to be as they are. It outlines the dispossession of the San in the late 19th century and shows that their subordination has continued in Botswana's postindependence era. Impoverishment, exploitation, and neglect seem to be the lot of the San at almost every turn, within and outside the San settlements, over land, cattle, labour, and related matters. With no land rights and few or no cattle, farm labouring is the essential occupation to which large numbers of San are relegated, and wherein their subordination is at its greatest. Not only through recent initiatives such as the Tribal Grazing Land Policy, but stemming back to the rise of the Tswana political economy, government policy has served at varying rates to move cattle and land from the rural masses to the elite. While the San were the original focus of dispossession, the effects of State action go well beyond them today. Notes, ref.