The history of the forces affecting the wellbeing of people defined as "Indigenous" all over the world is well documented. The effects on their collective consciousness, of being subject to political, economic, social and cultural forces beyond their control, have been dramatic. This thesis explores how one community of the Basarwa understand development, as a result of their experiences with the Remote Area Development Programme (RADP), and their aspirations for appropriate development programmes.
This thesis argues that, until Indigenous peoples are given a platform to express their understandings of and desires for appropriate development programmes, governments will continue to design well-intentioned but badly-conceived policies and programmes that reinforce rather than redress social injustices. In Botswana, such development policies and programmes appear to function primarily as vehicles of
colonisation. Instead of improving the quality of life, government policies have become mechanisms of control and domination. The Basarwas' experiences and aspirations for appropriate development are not taken into account, due to the technocratic, top-down development approaches adopted by government and the lack of relevant Basarwa-centred methodological approaches.
The literature review examines the concept of "development" and how it has impacted on the situation of Indigenous peoples. The literature documents the colonial nature of many development processes. It shows the ways in which government policies, programmes and practices have marginalised and silenced Indigenous peoples' voices. In order to examine the Basarwas' experiences with the RADP and their aspirations for development, a qualitative, multi-method research design was used. Ninety-seven Basarwa residents in the Kanaku settlement in the Southern District of Botswana
participated (directly or indirectly) in three stages of data collection. The data collection involved four techniques: focus group discussions, in-depth interviews, informal conversations and field observations. A focus group discussion, complemented by in-depth interviewing, was the primary data collection tool for this research. The methodology was founded on the notion that the Basarwa have a unique knowledge base derived from their personal experiences, understandings and aspirations. Thus the Basarwa understand their problems well and are probably best suited to guide and provide solutions for themselves. The methodology generated an enormous amount of data, which was useful to achieve the aims of this research.
The major findings of the study are as follows:
firstly, that past and current development approaches have not improved the quality of life for the Basarwa and have not ameliorated participants' situation, secondly, participants have
had negative experiences of the RADP and since their interaction with the RADP and other development programmes, they have experienced deep levels of subjugation and marginalisation, which have engendered feelings of frustration, anger and hopelessness, finally, participants identified the essential ingredients for effective local development programmes geared towards improving quality of life for Kanaku residents: these include, inter alia, provision of adequate food, paid employment, consultation, dialogue, respect and dignity, recognition as equal partners in the development process, relevant education, skills and training, economic independence and ownership of economic resources. These ingredients are the necessary if not sufficient preconditions that must be satisfied in order to set up a new programme. They are also process requirements and desired outcomes if the objectives of an effective, functioning local development programme are to be achieved.
Although the findings of this research refer directly to the Botswana context, they may have implications for Indigenous peoples elsewhere in the world seeking to transform their societies and improve their quality of life. In the Botswana context, the findings have a number of implications for policy and practice. Of particular note was the finding that, despite many decades of development programming quality of life for the Basarwa has not improved but continues to deteriorate. This finding reinforces the argument of this thesis that development has perpetuated the marginalisation of the Basarwa, that it has primarily served as a tool of colonisation, and that positive steps must be taken to develop inclusive policies and programmes that empower the Basarwa to reverse the situation. This research has the potential to contribute to and provide a foundation for the adoption of an appropriate local development methodology that takes into account the Basarwas'
experiences and aspirations for appropriate development programmes.
This thesis concludes that, under the current development regime, it is unlikely that quality of life for the Basarwa will improve in the foreseeable future. What requires urgent attention and provides possibilities for building a hopeful future is the development of a Basarwa-centred development paradigm. This paradigm should promote inclusive development policies, programmes and practices, the goal of which is to improve the quality of life for all the Basarwa in Botswana.