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Close encounters with the first kind : what does development mean in the context of two Bushman communities in Ngwatle and the Northern Cape?

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The aim of this research is to investigate the interaction between the ‘beneficiaries’ of development - the Ngwatle Bushmen in southern Botswana and the Khomani Bushmen in the Northern Cape of South Africa, and the agents of development – local NGOs (Non Government Organisations) and Trusts, whose development programmes are influenced by broader state policy. The development programmes implemented by these organisations affect Bushman rights with regards to public participation in the development process, land, hunting and access to resources and benefits. In discussing these issues this study draws on James Murombedzi’s (2001) proposition that community based natural resource management (CBNRM) programmes that supposedly devolve the management of natural resources to the local population, may be an extension of greater state control over resources. It will investigate the impact of what Steven Robins (2002: 835) calls “double donor vision” on the lives of the Ngwatle and Khomani Bushmen. Donors and NGOs view Bushmen as “both ‘First Peoples’ and modern citizen-in-the-making” (Robins, 2001: 833). He argues that this dual mandate to “promote the ‘cultural survival’ of indigenous people and to socialise them into becoming virtuous modern citizens” (Robins, 2001: 842) contributes to intra-community divisions and conflicts. An overview of the issue of identity as discussed by Anthea Simoes (2001) who tested Stuart Hall’s (1990, 1996, 1997) two models of identity in both communities, is necessary here to frame the discussion of development as being affected by differences in identity construction.This research therefore seeks to discuss perspectives of the process of development communication and implementation in the two Bushman communities. What type of development occurs and how does this interaction shape perceptions of development amongst the Bushmen? Different development communication paradigms adopt communication strategies and implementation programmes that best suit their goals. The modernization and dependency/dissociation development paradigms fail to offer mechanisms to facilitate negotiation, conflict resolution and community or individual empowerment (Servaes, 1999). The development support communication (DSC) paradigm and to a larger degree the ‘another development’ paradigm, in contrast, encourage local people to actively participate in the search for solutions to development problems as perceived and experienced by them (Ansah, 1992). This research aims to illustrate, however, that these different development paradigms exist alongside each other in the field – this adds to the ‘messiness’ of development in practice. The research frames the perceptions of and engagement with development via a comparative analysis of Ngwatle and the Northern Cape Bushman communities.


Thesis (M.A.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, 2004.


Theses--Culture, communication and media studies.