Indigenous land dispute dogs Amazon’s Africa expansion

DURBAN, Aug 9 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Over 500 years ago, South Africa’s indigenous Khoi and San population fought off a Portuguese attack in one of the first, and most successful, anti-colonial battles in Africa.

Today, some descendants of the Khoi and San view U.S. retail giant Amazon’s attempts to build an Africa headquarters on the same land in Cape Town in similar terms.

Rights groups last week filed an interdict at the Western Cape High Court to halt the $284 million development which would include a hotel, residential units and retail offices including Amazon’s.

56,000 people have signed a petition opposing the building plans on land, previously home to a golf course and a bar, which community leaders say has archaeological value and should be made a heritage site.

Amazon directed questions to the body overseeing the development, Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust (LLTP), who said the project would create jobs, attract foreign investment and improve Cape Town’s quality of life.

Why has this verdant stretch of land sparked such outrage? And are the developer’s promises of jobs and a heritage media centre enough to dissuade those opposing it?

What does this land mean to the Khoi and San?

The area, at the confluence of two rivers, is the ancestral home to the earliest Khoi and San inhabitants in Southern Africa.

It carries cosmological, spiritual and environmental significance to these indigenous groups…

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