From 19-22 August, 2012, Natural Justice attended and helped to facilitate a Khwe Indigenous Values workshop held in Bwabwata National Park, West Caprivi, Namibia as the beginning of a bicultural community protocol (BCP) process. The workshop was hosted in partnership with the Open Society for Southern Africa’s (OSISA) Indigenous Rights Programme, the Kyaramacan Association, and Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC). The workshop was attended by several community representatives from all 10 villages within the park, including elders, youth and Khwe conservation officers, a representative from the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism and youth of the San community from Botswana.
For historical reasons, the Khwe community is slowly losing many of their values, some of which incorporate important knowledge around sustainable use and management of natural resources. Further, very little intergenerational transfer of traditional knowledge is taking place. This is leaving the Khwe community vulnerable on many levels. In the community’s partnership to co-manage the park with the government, their knowledge and relationship with the resources in the park is essential.
The workshop ran over three days and focused on the indigenous values of the community. Healing and respect were among some of the values the workshop emphasised. Participants were asked to bring any natural resource they hold knowledge of to share with the workshop. The women and men went in separate groups and collected plants and certain roots. They also demonstrated how they harvest a root from a tree sustainably. On the final day, the participants selected a custodian committee comprised of elders, women and youth.
This custodian committee will now take this values process to the 10 villages of Bwabwata National Park with an emphasis on consultation and participation. The BCP concept will be introduced at the end of each village meeting. The local partners agreed that the BCP will then be informed by the outcomes of this process.