The Batwa, a pygmy people, indigenous to the tiny Central African nation of Burundi, are marginalized. They want their rights recognized and are demanding equal access to land, education and health services.
The Batwa community, which constitutes one percent of Burundi’s population, traditionally served as servants. The perception of them in servitude continues to dominate their lives. The births of Batwa are unrecorded and so with no legal status they have no rights to public amenities such as health services. Authorities in Burundi acknowledge the age-old discrimination.
“For a long time the Batwa were not allowed to enter other people’s homes. They were seen to be backward, with no value and bright future. Things have changed, people visit them. But the only obstacle is that there’s no intermarriage with them, even now it cannot happen,” says Derogates Ntikazohera, a local official.