The Batwa Cultural Experience
The Batwa Cultural Experience : Pygmies (Twa in Rwanda) lived in ancient Bwindi Forest in Uganda until they were evicted in 1980’s and 1900’s from the Rwanda & Uganda National Parks without compensation. In Uganda the Batwa lived in harmony in the jungle with all creatures including the mountain gorillas thus named the “main gorilla trackers” until Bwindi Rain Forest was gazette as a National Park, they lived a hunter gather lifestyle in the forest and here they were known as “the keepers of the forest”. The Batwa lived a lifestyle of gathering fruits, plants and hunting game in the forest using bows and arrows, this was mainly for both medical and food purposes. They roamed the forests for centuries in search of fruits and honey where they lived a harmonious life, they never practiced farming, no charcoal burning not even the shelters they had could destroy the environment but until they were evicted from their former home that’s when they started hunting gorillas, begging and working for others as servants. Non-Batwa cannot marry Batwa women or men but has it been reported that the Batwa women have been raped by non-Batwa men with a false belief that having sex with them could cure “AIDS” and a number of non-pygmy children have been born into their community but the good news is that today different organizations have spoken out for them and are making a difference for them.
In Uganda we have different Batwa Communities
Batwa Culture Trail found in Mgahinga Gorilla Park; tourists who are interested in culture are led by Batwa locals through the jungle, they teach the tourists their ancient gathering and hunting ways and after the visit, Batwa guides head back to their community, the Batwa also receive some little money of the Batwa Trail fees, but tipping them is also accepted. The Batwa Experience in Buhoma found just outside Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, visitors enjoy this experience after trekking gorillas. This experience has greatly benefited the Batwa communities and visitors are introduced to the culture including traditional dances, clothing and food among others.
Buninga Batwa Forest in Nkuringo; this gives chance to tourists to explore the cultural and traditional ways of the Batwa. Buninga forest is not part of Bwindi but its wildlife species, primates and vegetation types are similar to those in Bwindi and here visitors can also spot some chimpanzees during the forest walk. Batwa is a mazing indigenous group of people with excellent and interactive cultural experiences that one would not want to miss while visiting Uganda, therefore, it’s possible to enjoy Gorilla trekking and crown it with a visit in any of the Batwa Communities or have a visit in any of the walk with Batwa guides.