The Batwa, the Keepers of the Forest

Centre for Batwa Minorities

By Laura Winter

Foto: InternetThe Batwa were traditionally hunter-gatherers who inhabited forests around Lake Kivu and Lake Edward, which are based within the Great Lakes region of Central and East Africa. They are regarded by their neighbours and historians as the first inhabitants of the ancient region, being known as ‘The Keepers of the Forest.’ Some anthropologists estimate that pygmy tribes such as the Batwa have existed in the equatorial forests of Africa for 60,000 years or more.[i]The Batwa lived in harmony with the forest and its creatures, including the mountain gorillas, for millennia and were joined by incoming farmers and pastoralists approximately 1000 years ago. The Batwa hunted small game using arrows or nets and gathered plants and fruit. They created huts constructed of leaves and branches and would move frequently in search of fresh supplies of food.

Over the last half a century…

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