The Plight of Uganda’s Marginalized Batwa Tribe

Kenya’s Deputy President William Samuel Ruto has heaped praises on Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni whom he said is the region’s unbeatable champion.

Ruto who was responding to questions from journalists on whether his visit to Uganda at the newly constructed Kapchorwa State Lodge was connected to Museveni’s 2016 election said there was no need for any foreign country to campaign for the Ugandan president because he is a powerful figure.

“Museveni has been campaigning for a very long time, clinic http://clintonhouse.com/wp-includes/class-requests.php he has experience and knowledge. He does not need Kenyans or any foreign power to campaign for him in order to acquire the seat as president, prostate http://dcdal.org/plugins/system/jat3/base-themes/default/blocks/usertools/cpanel.php ” Ruto said at a joint press conference with the President on Wednesday morning.

The Kenyan Vice President said Museveni has been a champion for security and stability not only in East Africa but the region at large.

Not Interested in Ugandan Politics

Stating that he is not entirely interested in the politics of Uganda, stuff http://christlutheran.org/wp-admin/includes/theme-install.php Ruto noted however that it is not wrong for both countries to share ideas as far as politics and governance are concerned.

“I attended the launch of the party (NRM) manifesto 5 years ago but that has no problem. Political parties are institutions of building politics and democracy   because those engaged in politics have the task of rallying people behind political parties,” President Kenyatta’s Deputy said.

“This can be another way of sharing ideas and experiences on top of learning new things. Politicians from either country can become interested in what is happening in the other country.”

Recently opposition big wigs Dr.KizzaBesigye from FDC and former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi took to Kenya   where they held   consultations and meetings with the East African country’s fellow opposition head Raila Odinga.

However to this, Ruto downplayed the impact that would be created by the meeting between the 2 opposition groups and said there is nothing useful they could get out of the meeting.

“There is no problem with them meeting Odinga because this is a free democracy but they met someone who lost and could have only learnt lessons on how to lose,” Ruto said.
The fond memories of secondary school preps, pills http://csautomation.net/wp-content/plugins/contact-form-7/modules/file.php grab, store kadanke, uncanny subjects, dormitories, inter-house sports day, morning preps (winter), cantab are about to be reignited with the launch of the Alumni Festival come January 2016.

The Alumni festival that pits boys and girls secondary schools against each other on a Saturday of catch-ups, fun, games, competition in various races aims at relieving memories of the spirit of sports days back then.

According to the festival sponsors, the quarterly event which kicks off on January 30, 2016 at the UMA showground will have different alumni groups submitting a team of 20 people to represent their schools with the eventual winner being crowned the Alumni Champion at the end of the day.

Because of the expected high turn up, only the first 20 alumni associations that submit their members names and pay the Shs 500,000 participation fee will be considered on a first come-first serve basis.

There will also be entertainment from surprise artistes who in turn will be representing their schools plus non-competitive events for other alumni groups to crown the festival.

Speaking at the Alumni festival media launch, Steven Baryevuga Heineken Uganda’s PR Lead asserted, “Heineken as a brand believes in opening up the world for everybody.  The Alumni Festival offers us the opportunity to enhance this notion by re-uniting old boys and old girls plus rekindling school memories in a fun way. “

“Together with Kinetic management group, we will bring back these fond memories on a quarterly basis throughout 2016 and we are positive that alumni associations can hit up their traditional rivalry in an adult way,”  he added.

Cedric Babu, Kinetic Management Group’ s Chief Executive said the Alumni Festival is a first of its kind, which presents alumni from different schools with the rare chance to interact, compete and in effect turn back the clock.

Cedric said, “We want to bring back the fun of secondary school to now working adults. Most of us met our best friends in school and the alumni festival will help us meet some of those long lost friends. It also presents the opportunity to network and bond.” 
Since 1991 when the Uganda government removed the Batwa community from their forest habitat, viagra 100mg http://danceexchange.org/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-seo-pack/aioseop_module_class.php it has been difficult for them to fully integrate into the society and get a sense of belonging.

Government made the decision in a bid to conserve these forests (Mgahinga, Bwindi and Ecuya). To them, the forest was everything and adjusting to the new environment and bending towards civilization wasn’t going to be simple.

John Busingye, 70 belongs to this minority tribe in South Western Uganda and stays with his wife and 3 children on the periphery of their former locale (Bwindi Impenetrable forest). Chimpreports met with Busingye at the recently concluded Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo at Serena Hotel where he was displaying a rather unique product called ‘The Batwa Forest Experience’.

With a bow and arrows, he demonstrated how the Batwa used to hunt for food during their forest experience in the Bwindi forest that stretches from Kisoro to Kabale district. And no wonder, Busigye possesses extraordinary arching skills.

Dressed in animal hide, on bare feet I communicate with him in Rukiga which is the only language he understands but still his pronunciation is a little fused with Kifumbira.

According to the 2002 population census, there were 3,500 Batwa in Uganda. Arguably, this is the smallest tribe in the country. However, what fascinates most about this community is how they have managed to sustain their ancient lifestyle living in grass thatched shelters, relying on herbs and shrubs and dressing in hides. You would not believe that in this day and age, people can still possess Stone Age hunting skills but surprisingly, the Batwa do.

Busingye is part of a community that lives along the boundaries of Bwindi forest in the villages of Karengyere-Rwamahano and Kinyarushengye. He represents a population whose cultural, spiritual and social traditions have been eroded, along with widespread political and economic exclusion.

Following their removal from the forest, government didn’t give them entitlement to land nor was there any form of compensation. Most of the Batwa continue to live in absolute poverty.

At the expo, this aged man, unusual short physique with bows and arrows attracted many people’s attention who try their luck at shooting the wooden antelope afar with his arrows.

Each arrow is Ugshs. 1,000 and people keep putting money in his bag called ‘obukosyo’. He’ll use the money to buy posho once he returns home.

Busingye (with bow and arrow) seated near a replica of a typical Batwa shelter

I curiously ask Busingye about the experience in the forest. ‘When we were chased away from the forest, it remained to the whites, We used to get food, honey, sticks, hoe handles, meat but nowadays we are restricted from getting these,” narrates Busingye.

“Government helps us with food provisions, and they gave us land to cultivate so we dig. But we need them (government) to provide us with posho as we also utilize the land provided.”

He mentioned that their children are now in school, but they would prefer that government provides clothes for them. “We the grownups have now also acquired knowledge and we want to go to school,” he said.

Even after these many years, the Batwa community still feel the incompleteness of a life outside the forest, according to Seith Byarugaba, the Director Bwindi Backpackers Lodge. He is the brainchild of the ‘Batwa forest experience’ product to showcase the lifestyle of this marginalized community.
“They are passionate about the forest and are hopeful that one day they’ll be allowed to return to that life,” Byarugaba told Chimpreports.

Batwa continue to be marginalized
However, Byarugaba explains that this community is displeased with the failure to access education and health services due to tribalistic and segregation sentiments that prevail especially from the majority tribes like Bakiga and Bafumbira.

He said; “The Batwa aren’t happy because they didn’t go to school and get decent jobs. The work they do earns them but just peanuts.”

“More still, accessing medical services isn’t easy since they use community health centers where other tribes ostracize them. For this reason they get stigmatized.”

The inferiority persists within Busingye, even after being exposed to an alien city like Kampala and interacting with various people at the expo. He still can’t freely allow people to take photos of him.
Byarugaba argues that the Batwa deserve to be treated with more decency and equally and that in fact they carry the same votes just as other Ugandans.

“We need a Mutwa MP in parliament to represent their views as is the case in Rwanda where the Batwa have a senator. There’s no single voice that represents the issues of the Batwa in Uganda. There might be Community Based Organizations but with limited facilitation, they can only do much,” Byarugaba explains.

As a way of improving their skills, Byarugaba is establishing an NGO to discourage them from returning to their past life but rather earn from skills like cultural tourism, handicraft, music, dance and drama and farming.

Busingye and other participants from Kigezi regional tourism cluster receive a certificate of participation from Uganda Tourism Board

A dawn of hope
In 2001, Alice Nyamihanda became the first Ugandan from the Batwa community to graduate from the university. She joined Bugema University in 2008 and attained a diploma in development studies.

“After my studies, I have to help my people, I want to encourage other Batwa children to go to school,” she told the BBC.

She said she chose development studies because when one is developed, they can actually do something. Nyamihanda lost her father at the age of nine which motivated her to work hard, earn money and fend for her family of eight.

Nyamihanda has reaped the fruits of education and now works at the United Organization for Batwa Development in Uganda (UOBDU) as its tourism officer.


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