Images of Africa

8 11 2007

Visualize peace and security through these images

Wonderful flashes of peace embedded with beauty – the environment on the African continent from A to Z (Source: Unknown)

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Whatever life throws up, we blog about it


Pygmies march on the World Bank

18 10 2007

Pygmies negotiate their situation with World Bank Chief

The rumble of giant machinery heralds the arrival of loggers deep in the heart of the Congo rainforest. For the pygmy tribes which have inhabited this thick jungle for millennia, the sound of the advancing column is the sound of encroaching hunger and the loss of a way of life stretching back hundreds of generations. “They bring with them huge machines which go deep into the forest and make noise which frightens all the game animals away,” says Adrian Sinafasi, the man seeking to alert the outside world to the plight of central Africa’s pygmies. “When the loggers arrive, they bring with them many workers who are needed to fell the trees. They also need to eat and start hunting but, rather than use traditional weapons in the right season, they hunt with firearms and don’t care about seasons or how much food they take.”

Mr Sinafasi, who was displaced from his ancestral home in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, is leading a delegation of pygmies to meet the new head of the World Bank in Washington this week. He hopes the talks could lead to deal to safeguard the world’s second-largest rainforest. There is mounting optimism that when the representatives of some of Africa’s most remote tribes arrive in the US capital today, they can capitalise on international outrage over the bank’s plan to turn 60,000 sq km of pristine forest over to European logging companies. Forty million people in the Congo depend on the rainforests for survival. Among them are up to 600,000 pygmies who are engaged in a David and Goliath battle over plans to allow millions of hardwood trees to be felled, many to make garden furniture and flooring for European homes.

Disappearing habitats, displaced pygmies

12 08 2007

Aka pygmy habitats threatened by logging

In the late 1980s I had the good fortune to drive through the forest in Central African Republic and interact with the pygmies there.

There was one sedentary village where the pygmies were gathered as there was the hope of sedentarizing them and integrating them into mainstream society.

Pygmies are by nature forest nomads and have been so for hundreds of years.  Their division of labor is clear – men responsible for fauna, women for flora.  They usually move around the forest, settling in one area until it no longer can accomodate their waste, etc., and move into another area – this is done in a regularized fashion so that when they return to a given area it is usually regenerated and they can live there again.

The Aka “Pygmies” have been named the world’s best fathers, dedicating the most time of all the globe’s peoples to active fathering.  For more information read here

That was when the forest was the forest, with trees and animals within, with the music that is known as pygmy music lilting through the atmosphere.

Fast forward to 2007 – the forest is disappearing, many of the trees are cut down, and as such the nomadic nature of the pygmy is forced to undergo a radical cultural change to a sedentary lifestyle, with the attendant disease, lack of sanitation, and other socio-economic issues that they have not had the capacity to understand, much less overcome.

In addition, being different, they are mocked and ridiculed by the larger population and have lost the forest cover which held them intact over the years.

What can be done to help this group of people?

The men know the animals of the forest intimately; the women know the plants of the forest intimately and could treat any disease that might have occurred.  Now they are thrust into a sedentary lifestyle without the cover of the forest, they are at a total loss as to how to regain the dignity that was theirs under cover of the forest.

The destruction of a habitat for gentle, non-threatening people is forcing them to undergo scorn, ridicule, hate – they have no idea how to interact with sedentary people, how to do societal work.  They kept the forest intact and helped keep us intact.  Now that they are thrust into a space in which they have no idea how to behave, they have become the scorned, despite all the knowledge they have about the flora and fauna of the forests, about the plants necessary to treat illnesses – no one is caring about this knowledge.  The only concern is how to get them added to a workforce and treat them as slaves and third-class citizens.

Help the Aka pygmy! How? I do not know – maybe someone out there does.  Their security assures our security.