The Batwa of #Burundi: A forgotten miserable community


The power of the CNDD-FDD, despites its ideological struggle against the oppressed whom it sang in the jungle for fighting, only aggravated the situation of these people.

The (declared) defense of democratic principles has become a genuine demagogy in an attempt to hide its manifest desire to use democracy to destroy democracy. At a time when the national and international community had hoped that the power of the CNDD-FDD and President Pierre Nkurunziza had come to put an end to injustice and oppression, it was bitter.

The Burundian people in general and the long-oppressed categories of people in Burundi suffer more than ever in a context where the tenors of this power are enriched and flowing sweetly in their villas declaring to every wind that ” the country is 100%  peacefully”! The promotion of groups of vulnerable and marginalized people is indeed an indicator of democratic governance of states. In Burundi, the situation of these groups of people is catastrophic and deserves to be dwelt on.

Nowadays, street children and begging women swarm in urban centers, when government is being used to drive them out because there is no alternative to assist them. In particular, the Batwa constitute a most miserable and forgotten social component. They live in the most deplorable conditions in isolated sites scattered across the country. Their homes, their dirty clothing, their misery and their lifestyle distinguish them from most of the rest of the Burundian population. At a time when the other Burundians live mainly from agriculture, the Batwa are severely lacking cultivable land. They are still trying to live on blacksmithing, weaving mats and pottery while this job is outdated.

Clay pots no longer have a market due to the emergence of modern cooking utensils. We visited several Batwa sites in at least seven provinces of the country: Bujumbura, Gitega, Bururi, Mwaro, Kirundo, Cibitoke and Cankuzo.

This is bitter because this population, estimated at at least 1% of the total population, suffers more than the rest of the Burundian population from all evils. On arriving at the place, you are struck by a physically manifest misery: ragged clothing, pitiful dwellings of dust, terrible dirt and clay pots piled up without customers. “We are obliged to continue manufacturing them just  not to lose the trade and to have an occupation,” a woman in action tells us.

The Batwa have always been left behind. They are unable to cope with the current challenges of the ever-changing world. The problems they encounter stem from the collapse of their livelihoods. Indeed, they were once considered as a forest people, primitive and infrahuman. This caricature deprived them of access to a number of benefits such as allowances that would allow them to ensure better health, to meet the costs of educating their children, or to facilitate their l Access to other socio-political benefits. This special report of FORSC gives an update on the socio-economic and political life of the Batwa.

 It deals with subjects related to socio-economic and political integration, schooling of children, food, health and the pathetic habitat of the Batwa of Burundi.

A glimmer of hope is nevertheless on the horizon. Marginalized and discriminated against by the other social components, namely the Bahutu and the Batutsi, the Batwa ended by self-discrimination and the majority is resigned to the situation. No effort to get by. In the meantime, Burundi’s governments have remained indifferent to the fate of the Batwa, deliberately or unintentionally developing prejudices and stereotypes about this very vulnerable category of people. Indeed, authorities have repeatedly declared, to justify their inaction,  that the Batwa do not want to abandon their way of life as if their misery was a fatality.

Asked about the situation of the Batwa in his commune, a communal administrator told us that the Batwa constitute a community that is difficult to transform. For him, the Batwa do not want to be developed. “When you give them sheets, they sell them instead of covering their houses.  “He says that” Batwa children refuse to go to school because they follow the pattern of their parents and neighbors who do not care about school and development because they are camped on their old culture. ”

For him “Abatwa ni abatwa nyene” a simplified Burundian language to reinforce his denigration and contempt towards this layer of the population.

Downloard the report here in french

Leave a Reply