The Terrors of the Pygmy People

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Pygmy People

Image: Sergey Uryadnikov

The Pygmy people of the Congo are hunter gatherers, and they receive their name from their short stature. Average height for an adult male is around five feet, (which is not uncommon for tropical forest-dwelling indigenous peoples all over the world), but the Pygmy people are considered short when compared to the other African peoples living near them. The general view of Pygmy people, by the other near-by Bantu peoples in the Congo region, is that they are primitive and less than human. Anthropologists say that there are several examples of systematic racism toward them, and that they are treated like animals. They have been murdered and driven from their homes for decades by logging and mining operations, but the Civil war in the Congo opened these people up to entirely new atrocities.

There have been several examples of racism and hatred focused on the Pygmy people of the Congo for many years. however, the civil war in the Congo increased the problems for the Pygmies considerably. These indigenous people have been murdered, raped, and hunted like game animals for their meat. The killing of Pygmies started during the Rwanda genocide in the mid 1990s, and has been a reoccurring theme since then. Similar to how the Hutus wore the body parts of the Tutsis as trophies, the Ugandan-backed rebel groups were known to do the same thing with the Pygmy’s body parts. Further, the rebels saw the Pygmies as animals, and have hunted and eaten them for the magical properties that they believe this practice can give to them. Let’s be clear, Pygmy people are fully anatomically modern humans, and this practice is cannibalism.

Aside from the deep hatred and racism towards the Pygmies, they are being driven from their homes and enslaved. The logging and mining industries have been in conflict with the Pygmies for decades, and they are driving them out, killing them, and enslaving them as resource gatherers. Anthropologist Jerome Lewis has been working with the Pygmy people for more than twenty years, and he believes that the Pygmies may be the original indigenous peoples in the Congo, and that other Bantu people may have descended from them. The story of outsiders killing and driving out the indigenous peoples so that they can apprehend their resources is not a new one, but it is a story that is still happening today.

So, what can be done to make a difference in the lives of the Pygmy people today? Survival International is an organization that works to prevent the annihilation of indigenous peoples and gives them the ability to have a voice in their own defense. Survival International currently has an on-going campaign to help the Pygmy people. You can read about it and donate HERE. As always, spreading awareness is always an important way to help.

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