Pygmies Demand End to Discrimination in DR Congo
Kinshasa (AFP) – Pygmies in the Democratic Republic of Congo used the forum offered by a festival of indigenous peoples Friday to demand protection against discrimination by other Congolese who they claim treat them like “savages”.
Pygmies are hunter-gatherers who live in DR Congo, the Central African Republic, Congo, Cameroon and Gabon.
Since colonial times, they have cohabited uneasily with majority Bantus, who are accused of exploiting the Pygmies, paying them meagre wages — or with alcohol and cigarettes — and generally treating them as inferior beings.
The Pygmies fate was expected to dominate the second International Festival for Native Peoples, which opened Friday in the capital Kinshasa.
Patrick Sayidi, coordinator of the native rights’ group DGPA, said it was an “occasion to plead for respect of the Pygmy people in DRC… to highlight their culture and stop the idea that Pygmies are sort of savages, animals.”