Amazon plans to construct its new African headquarters in Cape Town, South Africa, over the course of three to five years. The property on which the multibillion-dollar firm wants to build, on the other hand, belongs to the Khoisan people, who are thought to be the world’s oldest living people.
Since the project was announced a few years ago, Khoisan people have fought it, with the help of conservationists, to have it rejected due to the sensitive nature of Khoisan culture. The result was a collision of ideals: respect for a people’s customs and identity or giving in to the ambitions of one of the world’s most successful enterprises.
Legal challenges to the project were defeated by city officials, who have repeatedly emphasized the economic benefits that Amazon promises with the 150,000 square meter site.
“With Amazon’s headquarters, we can expect many more thousands of jobs for Capetonians,” said James Vos, a member of the City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management. According to experts, Capetonians can expect 19,000 new jobs.
The issue of Khoisan heritage and ancestral lands was promised to be resolved by the Mayor of Cape Town, Dan Plato, in April. Plato claimed that during the appeal process, Cape Town had “carefully and thoroughly reviewed all of the representations and concerns.” However, it appears that Plato’s promise was not taken seriously.
Hundreds of people, including Khoisan opinion leaders and chieftains, demonstrated against the proposed territory in May. This was reported in the media. At the protest, Khoebaha Arendse, the traditional head of the Kai Korona Transfrontier, which is part of the land Amazon wants to claim, said:
Amazon did not provide us with our independence. Amazon did not bring about our freedom. Our sacred areas were created by the blood of our forefathers and the Koranic sacrifices.
Amazon came to South Africa in 2004 to open its first development facility for Amazon Web Services (AWS) in Cape Town, but its eCommerce services were not available in Africa until today. AWS has expanded its footprint in South Africa by establishing various offices. The objective now is to reach all of Africa from Cape Town, and the corporation must deal with the criticisms that have already surfaced.
The company headed by the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, has come under fire in recent years as a result of a drive by left-wing lawmakers in the United States to force Amazon to pay its workers more and provide a better working environment. A proposal to create a headquarters in New York City was also thwarted a few years ago by legislators led by Democratic lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who decried the project’s tax and housing implications.
The Khoisan people live in Botswana, Zambia, Angola, Namibia, South Africa, Lesotho, and Zimbabwe, with a population of over 90,000 people. They range in age from 100,000 to 140,000 years old and speak the Khoe, Tuu, and Kx’a language families.
They are the world’s oldest people, and they are thought to be direct descendants of the first human clans.