Community participation approaches are commonly associated with a western ideology of democracy attributed to earlier sociological philosophies by, for instance, Weber and Marx (Lehmann, 1979; Midgley, 1986; Smith, 2001). The underlying framework of the community participation principle is that ‘… the poor and oppressed should be mobilized by agents external from governments … and encouraged to participate in decision-making for social development at the local level’ (Midgley, 1986, p. 13). At its infancy therefore the idea of community participation was guided by anarchism and populism ideas that considered states or governments as barriers to community participation in development (Midgley, 1986; Rahnema, 1992). In most African contexts communities claim affiliation and ownership of cultural heritage resources by virtue of their residence around them as well as historical and continuous use (Keitumetse et al., 2007), while in European contexts community participation can be advocated on different levels, among them an assertion that ‘the public’ are taxpayers and are therefore entitled to participate in the management of ‘their’ heritage (Schaafsma, 1989; Faulkner, 2000; Skeates, 2000; Merriman, 2003). The tax-paying mechanism as an indicator of entitlement to participation is not applicable in African contexts such as Botswana where communities resident within and around historic sites are outside the tax paying categories. In these contexts, community participation in resources management could be advocated based on the following (Keitumetse, 2005, unpublished Ph.D. thesis):
a. to ensure continued existence of the physical/tangible resources such as archaeological heritage, monuments, sites, wilderness, national parks and game reserves;
b. to ensure intellectual, emotional and economic benefit from cultural resources by communities following sustainable consumption patterns.
Combining a and b creates a scenario that enables communities to sustain indigenous ecological knowledge of their heritage rendering community cultures sustainable as well as conserve resources for future generations.
Sustainable development and cultural heritage management in Botswana: towards sustainable communities