a photographic story about the Batwa Pygmees.
this story needs to be told...
These pictures are showing a side of Uganda that little people and tourists are familiar with.
They are about the Batwa Pygmies, one of the oldest people of Africa. It can be said that the Batwa still pay the price for the development of the country and the preservation of the mountain gorillas.
For years and years now, the number of people that live on our planet is increasing. The pressure on our earth is also increasing. Every human needs food, water, and a place to call home.
People are traveling all over the world to see other countries and to enjoy all of the beauty our earth is providing. Tourism brings development and improvement. For people. But what about the animals? Habitats are decreasing and the number of visitors keep growing.
The Virunga Mountains (situated along the Northern border of Rwanda, the Democratic of the Congo and Uganda) are the home of the mountain gorillas, which are threatened with extintion.
There used to be a time in the past that they shared their habitat with the Batwa Pygmies, who spent their whole lives in the forest.
The Batwa roamed the forest, looking for fruits and honey and hunted with bows and their trained dogs. As the woods were cut down by the Bantu, the Batwa numbers dwindled. In the early 1990's they were evicted from the parks of Bwindi and the Mgahinga National Parks, in the effort to protect the mountaingorillas and their habitat, with no compensation.
More than 20 years after eviction from their ancestral land, the Batwa people are still suffering. They are the poorest among the poorest, without farmingland of their own. The government is still not helping.
They are impoverished, thereby they have no or very limited acces to education and healthcare. They survive on handouts and begging.
The church and some non-governmental organisations helped by buying land for settling on, but despite of that, the Batwa people are still squatters and labourers without farmingland of their own. The church of Uganda had built 15 units of household facilities, the rest of the families builed their homes with reads and polythene papers.
We have to protect all species that are threatened with extintion, as well as others!
But it shocked me to see these pygmies being abandoned while their government is making a lot of money on tourists visiting the mountain gorillas...
My heart is with the mountain gorillas, but it also broke when I met these people and the conditions were they have to live in.
These pictures are taken in front of their houses, where I asked them to stand and feel "proud for one second".