“First they make us destitute by taking away our land, our hunting and our way of life. Then they say we are nothing because we are destitute.” Jumanda Gakelebone, Botswansa
Stephen Corry is the director of the UK based organization, Survival International; the group and he are committed to supporting indigenous, tribal peoples all over the globe. Corry has decades of experience as an anthropologist and a rights defender and he is passionate about his tribal friends. To learn more and to join this organization see: www.survivalinternational.org
When I read that Corry had won the prestigious Right Livelihood Award, I looked at the book and remembered I had seen the same award given to Roy Sesana, founder of the First People of the Kalahari, in the Swedish Parliament. The people of the Kalahari have a steadfast supporter in Corry and their cause – one of dispossession of tribal lands, camps where poverty, despair and disease are killing these gentle people – has gained world attention and the government of Botswana and its blood diamonds are censored throughout the world. The cover photo of this book is of Xoroxloo Suxee of Botswana. She died because that government denied her people access to water. See: http://www.bbcf.ca/_articles/2007/diamond/diamond.htm
Corry give us descriptions of the lives of peoples from the Arctic to the Amazon to Andaman Islands. As he writes the greatest enemy of tribal peoples are governments. They are the powers who can drive people from their lands, deny their rights to hunting and gathering, introduce disease, missionaries and corporations hell–bent on resource exploitation.
There is a thread of common cause that gives a similarity to stories from every region, but as Corry makes clear, every group has a unique culture and civilization, language and customs that give a sense of identity and belonging to every person in a group. The diversity of peoples creates a richness that our consumer–based urban societies are losing; it is all the more important to support tribal peoples and their right to live in their own societies.
At the same time, what also comes through in this gem of insight and information that Corry has documented is the common humanity we share with each other. Even if we never sleep in a hammock, hunt on a desert or herd reindeer, we share the concepts of love and family, joy and sadness, abounding creativity and a common history that leads us all back to Africa and the people of the Kalahari from whom we are all descended. Defend these people and we defend our sisters and brothers.
Corry quotes a person from Penan, Malaysia who says, “If we lose all the things the forest gives us, we will die.” If we allow the theft of resources and death of peoples and their cultures to fuel our war loving, consumer society, we also will die.