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Difficulties Faced By The Batwa Community Of The Great Lake Region In The Context Of A Monetised Economy: A Review

1107 words - 5 pages

Keywords: review, Batwa, marginalisation, global capitalism, economic reform, Great-Lake region, pygmy, social capital, moral capital, glocalisation, grobalisation, binary epistemology,


Much is written about the Batwa pygmies of the great lakes region. Especially about their current standard of living, history, and their relationship towards the other ethnic groups in their surroundings. The Batwa pygmies inhabit parts of southern Uganda, eastern DRC, Rwanda and Burundi. Although they are historically know as the indigenous people of the great lakes region, they only make up between 0.02 and 0.07 % of the total population of the countries they inhabit (Lewis ...view middle of the document...

Game hunting, exploitation of the forest habitat, ethnical genocide, political oppression, … gradually marginalised the Batwa even more. Dispossession of land was now legitimate through severe legal restrictions on hunting and gathering. Up-to-date the Batwa need to integrate themselves into a monetary economy that’s primarily based on agriculture. Landlessness forces them into off the record practises such as begging, stealing and prostitution. Batwa who do earn money, do so by selling pots , day labouring, working on the fields of neighbouring Bahutu and Batutsi, ect. …
Despite the fact that the Batwa speak different languages according to the country they live in… they all share the common sense of ‘unity’ and their shared descent of the original hunter-gatherers who dwelled the region a few thousand years ago. (ibid) This review will primarily focus on the existing literature about the economical difficulties faced by the Batwa in the context of the current monetised economy. It will lay the foundation for an in-depth research and fieldwork to reveal the way in which Batwa implement capitalistic methods in their off the record practices and lifestyle in order to force themselves into the monetary economy from which they are hugely excluded. This ‘glocalisation’ of capitalism, social capital, and underestimated traditional knowledge are, according to me, forgotten or untouched themes that could help to re-orientate the way in which institutions and Batwa support group organize their capacity building programs.

I have a certain affinity with the Batwa people, especially those of Banga, in the province of Kayanza in Burundi. Over the past years I have been organizing Youth Exchange programs in that region which gave me the opportunity to put Belgian youngsters into contact with the Batwa culture. The ‘chefs des villages’ accepted us to work together with their villagers what gave us incredible insight in the lives of these modern ‘forest people’. I finished this project understanding that, regardless to their current impoverished living conditions and the stereotype, retrograde ideas that live amongst people about the Batwa, they have found an interesting mix between ‘modernity’ and ‘tradition’, ‘capitalism’ and ‘communism’ as a way to integrate them in the ‘superstrate’ monetised economy that tries to destroy them from above.

BBC. "DR Congo Pygmies Appeal to UN." BBC News. May 23, 2003. Accessed May 05, 2014.
Bradford, Phillips Verner., and Harvey Blume. Ota Benga: The Pygmy in the...

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