Batwa People

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BATWA PEOPLE
It is an experience all visitors should see for themselves: an excluded group of people living close to the Bwindi forest and trails. Pygmies called the forest keepers for the long years that they spent residing in the forest with animals are the Batwa, also known as Twa people.

The Bwindi forest’s first occupants were the Batwa people, who are thought to have lived there for more than 300 years.

They were driven out of the forest in 1991 in order to preserve it, and they began a life as beggars just outside the forest with scarce supplies they were not accustomed to.

Due to their prior wild lifestyle of hunting, the majority of the local inhabitants, such as the Bafumbira and Bakiga, refer to them as uncivilised people.

The Twa are incredibly marginalised; since they were forced out of the forest, they have never owned land and have settled as squatters on properties whose owners do not value their presence.

The elders of the Twa tribe are the ones who usually relate the legend of how the Batwa came into being. Three sons named Katutsi, Kahutu, and Katwa are thought to have been born to a father named Kihanga.

The boys kept the gourds all night, and their father called them in the morning to see how they were doing. Kahutu’s milk gourd was half full, Katwa’s milk gourd was empty, and Katusi’s milk gourd was still full.

In order to test their level of responsibility, the guy assigned them the task of guarding milk The father gave them gifts in accordance with their level of personal accountability as a result of the outcomes.

All of the father’s cows were given to Katutsi, who would use them to support himself and his offspring. Kahutu received seeds and a hoe, which he would use to grow food and prosper with the coming generations.¬†Katwa received the forest and everything in it, and he was to survive by hunting and gathering wild fruits.

This is how the Batwa people came to live in the forest.

The Batwa people live in cramped, tiny homes that are never big enough to house the entire family. For instance, you might discover more than eight people residing in a single-room home.

Although the majority of these homes lack mattresses or chairs, you may still find the family members laying in their sisal-made beds at night, passing them down from the father to the kids.

The warm and cordial nature of the Batwa demonstrates how nice a people they are. They interact with one another through activities like hunting, music, dancing, and the various tales that the older generation always tells the next generation in the evening.

The Twa live on small plots of land but marry when they are teenagers, which has greatly boosted their population. Most of them quit school to assist with the daily operations of their families, while others work as local guides for tourists that come to the region to do gorilla trekking.

The Batwa people find it incredibly difficult to get employment, therefore they usually settle for part-time positions that pay very little. They also produce clay pots, which they sell to various tourists who come to the area.

The majority of the individuals who create the pots claim that even though they are sold, the money they receive is not enough to support them for a week, and sometimes they go without food because their primary source of income, hunting, has been taken away from them.

Despite this, they are still attempting to adapt to the changing world.

The majority of the Twa children attend school, but because to their great poverty, they often drop out and end up working odd jobs to make ends meet. Some students leave their schools because they feel threatened by the teachers and other students.

The Batwa people worship a supreme being known as Imaana or Nagaasan in their region. And it’s also thought that Nagaasan gives the Twa people their money, food, safety, and offspring.

Because it reached the top of the tree and the Twa thought it was closest to God, the chameleon was revered as a sacred animal.

However, you should be aware that the Batwa had their own spiritual practises and worshipped a deity called A ‘an before Christianity was introduced to the nation.

Some Batwa people continued to practise their traditional religion after Christianity was introduced because it is centred on the forest and is practised by a variety of people in the community.

The Twa tribe usually placed a bow and arrow in the palms of their newborns as a sign of protection.

The education system was similar to others in that children learned various tasks from the elders rather than attending school, such as hunting and doing housework. Long periods of breastfeeding were practised by the mothers as a method of family planning.

The Twa practiced monogamous marriage and occasionally traded girls, a practise known as barter marriage.

The majority of marriages among the Twa were arranged by the couples’ families, and in the instance of the barter marriage, the two girls were forced to stand together, particularly during the wedding rites, as a symbol of their joint impending union.

The groom’s father would always introduce the bride to the spirits’ family following the wedding ceremony.

Additionally, the guy was always advised to find another pregnant woman in case the first proved to be barren in order to continue his family’s lineage.

Twa women have always been raped by the local males in the hopes that they may be cured of Aids, despite the fact that non-Batwa people are not allowed to marry Twa people.

Also forbidden among the Twa people was adultery. It was not common practice to buy a wife before a marriage, but honey and wild meat were occasionally offered as gifts to the bride’s family.

Due to its difficulty to hunt, squirrel meat was mostly used and was given to the mother-in-law at the marriage.

The Twa people had minimal belongings, and upon death, the family members would be handed the possessions to own, hence they rarely practised inheritance rites.

The place where the dead were interred was typically an unused hut or cremation chamber. Before being driven out of the Bwindi Forest for preservation, they were also entombed in caves and on rocks. A medicine man would visit the grieving family members after a loved one passed away to purify them so the ghost of the departed would not harm them.

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