"The world has got the habit of holding
international summits, but no one ever does any climbing", a paramount
chief of the Korana Community of the Khoisan Indigenous People of South
Africa, Josiah Katz, said.
"Although we were rich in land and cattle, today we are poor because of
the colonial powers who ruled us for more than three decades" said the
62-year-old chief as he held back tears.
"Today we hope and pray that we will get back, all that we have lost" the
Demands for land ownership, respect for indigenous culture, languages and
dignity dominated the opening day of International Indigenous Peoples'
preparatory Conference for the forthcoming World Summit on Sustainable
Participants at the Pre-summit Conference drawn from seven regions were
unanimous on needs for formulation of an action plan at the local,
national, regional and world levels that would ensure their recognition
within human development.
They demand effective participation in all the stages and levels of
decision-making in institutions, programmes and sustainable policies
related to them.
"No more lip-service but action is required now, because time is of great
essence" retorted a member of the executive council of South Africa's
Ministry of Economic Affairs and Tourism, Mr Thabo Makweya.
Attributing slow pace in realization of meaningful results to lack of
proper strategies, and effective programmes, the government official
called for time-bound implementation strategies for the world's Indigenous
Peoples' human development.
Governments and multinational corporations were accused of back-peddling
on the promises on commitments made at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 to
reverse environmental degradation and narrow the income gap between rich
"I know the work ahead of us is gigantic, I know the sacrifice it has to
take, I know how long it has to take, but keep on the struggle as it has
to have a beginning", Lawrence Ignace, a member of the international First
Nations told participants.
The pre-summit Conference is expected to run for four days before
delegates travel to Johannesburg for the World Summit on Sustainable
Development, which begins on the 24th August, 2002.