The indigenous Batwa population of Rwanda is known by various names: indigenous Rwandans, ancient hunter-gatherers, Batwa, Pygmies, Potters, or the “historically marginalized population”. The Batwa live throughout the country and number between 33,000 and 35,000 people out of a total population of around 11,000,000, i.e. 0.3% of the population. They have a distinct culture, often associated with their folkloric and traditional dance and the intonation of their specific language.
Prior to 1973 when national parks were created in Rwanda, the Batwa lived mainly from hunting and gathering in the territory’s natural forests. They were expelled from their ancestral lands with no warning, compensation or other means of subsistence. They now constitute the poorest and most marginalized ethnic group in Rwanda.
The Rwandese government still does not recognise the indigenous or minority identity of the Batwa and, in fact, all ethnic identification has been banned since the 1994 war and genocide, even though the government voted in favour of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Because of this unwillingness to identify people by ethnic group, there is no specific law in Rwanda to promote or protect Batwa rights.
International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, The Indigenous World 2011
406 days ago
809 days ago
1405 days ago