20061231

 

Existential dilemma

Excerpt from IRIN website: "...Throughout Central Africa, governments have denied pygmies the right to organise and represent themselves, which has led to increasing cases of ethnic discrimination, violence, poverty and a general and gradual disintegration of pygmy culture. The majority of pygmy communities do not benefit from any form of political representation and also lack institutions able to directly defend their rights. Being geographically and politically dispersed and having little trans-national consciousness as an ethnic group, they remain politically weak...The traditional power structure of representative institutions is entirely foreign to pygmy society, as hierarchy is not necessarily a dominant feature of pygmy clans. Executive power over the clan often stems from elders’ collegial decisions. Consensus, rather than imposition, is the general way of Batwa governance in eastern DRC, for example. This often collides with the protocols of modern administration, which call for a delegate, spokesman or leader to centralise decision-making after consultation. A “flat” power structure is hardly adapted to project-management frameworks, which now permeate most development programmes...Societal prejudices against pygmies further impede their being included in development schemes. Often considered “inferior”, “impure” or even “sub-human” by their Bantu neighbours, pygmy groups are segregated and excluded from the sphere of public action and decision-making. As a result, development – or emergency relief – operations are channelled to other populations..."





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