Batwa Pygmy People At Mgahinga National Park
Visitors could be attracted to Mgahinga to see the gorillas of Uganda, but there’s another reason to travel to Uganda’s Mgahinga National Park; the Batwa Pygmy people.
These last remaining members of the endangered Batwa pygmy tribe that once flourished in the forest today live on the edges of Mgahinga.
Who are the Batwa People
The Batwa pygmies are hunter-gatherer people who lived in Mgahinga and the neighboring rain forests for thousands of years.
They lived a typical hunter-gatherer culture; the men used simple spears or bows and arrows to catch birds, monkeys, small antelopes, and bush pigs, while the women foraged for wild honey, fruits, and berries.
They relied entirely on the rainforest for their existence, living in grass huts and dressing in the skins of the animals they killed.
What Is The Social And Economic Life Of The Batwa Today
In 1991, Mgahinga has gazetted a National Park and the Batwa were forced out of the area. They were relocated to camps, settlements, and neighboring communities. After the eviction, the Batwa people faced and still face challenges of living among the other people in the neighboring communities as they continue to be discriminated against and stigmatized due to their different ways of life and their physical appearance.
Today, there are poorest Uganda and many of them earn their living from carrying heavy loads of merchandise for traders in markets and working on farms of other people.
Their population and culture had also started to diminish and in fact today, there are less than 3,000 Batwa People.
However, things have begun to change, the Uganda Wildlife in conjunction with USAID (United States Agency for International Development plus the Embassy of Netherlands in Kampala started the Batwa Cultural Trail in Mgahinga Gorilla Park.
This trail is led by local Twa (Batwa) who explain how they used to live in the forest before being forcibly removed. Part of the Batwa cultural trial fee goes directly to the and the rest goes to the Batwa community fund to cover school fees and books and improve their livelihoods.