Exploring the indigenous minefield: social policy and the marginalization of the Bushman in southern Africa

  • Keitseope Nthomang School of Social Work, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia


The history of the forces affecting the wellbeing of people defined as “the Bushman” in Botswana, South Africa and Namibia is well documented. The effects on their collective and individual consciousness of being victims of political, social, economic and cultural forces outside their control, have been dramatic. This paper attempts to unravel the often-unquestioned institutional assumptions that construct, entrench and perpetuate the marginalization of the Bushmen in the three countries. It argues that, until the assumptions embedded in the institution of the state are understood, governments will continue to design well-intentioned but badly-conceived social policies that reinforce rather than redress social injustices. The conclusion is that, under the current policy regime, it is unlikely that the conditions of the Bushmen will improve in the foreseeable future. A post-nationalist state model that seeks to work towards promoting inclusive social policies whose goal is to achieve equality and justice for all, is recommended.

African Journal of Social Work Vol.17(1) 2002: 99-122

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1012-1080