Pygmy Intervention Project
13 March 2017
The Pygmy community of the Central African Republic became a focal point at a gala dinner recently held in Pretoria at Burgers Park hotel. The gala dinner was a fundraising event for a Pygmy Intervention Project founded a year ago by the African Women in Leadership Organisation South Africa (AWLO), African Entrepreneurs Organisation in Partnership with the Central African Republic Embassy in Pretoria.
His Excellency Ambassador of the Central African Republic to South Africa, Andre Nzapayeke (pictured left) and AWLO Vice President Thoko Moyo gave insight into the life of these marginalized groups. It was keynote speaker and veteran journalist Izak Khomo who took people through the rich and colourful history of the Pygmies.
“The idea stemmed from our focus theme of 2017 which is Uplifting African Countries to Africans. What better way to inspire the world, than focusing on a country such as CAR which has been known for a long time for conflict and unrest. We have sat in numerous conversations, brainstorming sessions, creating the best model of how to put the Central African Republic on the mark this year, and it came to us that we must focus on the minority groups, not just minority groups, but we are focusing on the worst of the minority groups, in the case of the Central African Republic, it is the forgotten nation of the Pygmy Communities”, said Ms. Moyo.
Photo: AWLO Vice President, Thokozile Moyo
“Pygmies also called Babinga, live in the equatorial forest regions of Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, CAR, Republic of Congo, DRC, Rwanda and Burundi. In the CAR, we find the BaBingas mainly in 3 regions of the south-west: Lobaye, Sangha-Mbaéré and Mambéré-Kadéi. The size of the population is estimated at about 15 000 people,” said Mr. Nzapayeke.
The African forest people are known to be excellent hunters whose day-today life is simple. However Pygmies experience discrimination and this is the one of the reasons AWLO came up with the programme – to help the pygmy community.
Mr. Nzapayeke mentioned that most pygmies do not have birth certificates or IDs. “So they do not exist as citizens, do not vote, and do not have access to justice and hardly to health or school facilities. Many are usually dominated by the neighboring Bantu tribes. Many pygmies do not know their age, and hardly know the symbols of the Republic. As a result of their contact with the outside world, they are affected by diseases such as AIDS, tuberculosis and malnutrition. Their life expectancy is about 32 years. Early marriage and early pregnancy are also a disaster for young girls”.
The intervention project will mainly focus on health and sanitation, sports and recreation, education, midwifery and upliftment of young girls and women.
The event was a success and very insightful as distinguished guests listened to poetry, music and kept entertained and informed by master of ceremony Adetunji Omotola. The team will be going to the CAR in April to do groundwork.