A Proposal to Deliver POSITIVE CHANGE to Mbuti Pygmies of Northern North Kivu Province and Southern Orientale Province – Axis Byakato
Jesus said, “Whatever you have done to the least of these My brethren you have done to Me.” The Greek word for “least” is literally “shortest”. Pygmies are the shortest people on earth (Mbuti Pygmies average about 1.40 meters); but, far more important is the figurative aspect of this word “least”. Pygmies are by far the poorest, most vulnerable; least understood and most underrepresented people on Earth.
Mbuti Pygmies are indigenous people commonly called Pygmies or Mbuti or Bambuti (plural) in the Eastern D. R. Congo Provinces of North Kivu and Orientale. Pygmy is considered a pejorative term in academic circles; and, Mbuti or Bambuti (plural of Mbuti) are partially misnomers. Those called Mbuti are actually made up of the SUA, EFE and MBUTI tribes of the Indigenous People of the region; but, these tribal lines have blurred and they call themselves Mbuti.
Saying Mbuti Pygmies is somewhat redundant as Mbuti are Pygmies; but, “Mbuti Pygmies” better identifies the two groups in the study areas of this document – as most readers would not now the meaning of Mbuti. Saying Pygmies or Indigenous People (IP) or forest foragers or Congo Basin foragers is also not applicable to the subjects of this specific study area, because, Indigenous People is a very general term applicable to IP all over the world and to possibly 600,000 Pygmies in sub-Sahara Africa – of which about 380,000 Pygmies from several tribes are scattered throughout the Great Lakes region. Hewlett-Fancher (2010) [FOOTNOTE Hewlett-Fancher CENTRAL AFRICAN HUNTER-GATHERER RESEARCH TRADITIONS] use the term “foragers” or “hunter-gatherers” instead of Pygmies as in, “350,000 foragers from at least 13 distinct ethnolinguistic groups occupy the Congo Basin forests.” Still others use the term “forest people” but the forest of many IP has disappeared. No other phrase decscribes the Mbuti Pygmies and to this group and those in this area, the term “Pygmies” is not perjorative.
Pygmies were the original and sole Indigenous People (IP) of sub-Sahara Africa for millennia before the Bantu began to migrate southward from western Africa around 1400 AD. There are many tribes of IP in the Great Lakes Region, Central Africa and Southern Africa (e.g. Mbuti (Bambuti), Efe, Sua, Asua, Batwa, Twa, Mbega, Baka, Aka and San). But, this proposal focuses only on the so called Mbuti Pygmies in Northern North Kivu Province and Southern Orientale Province – Axis Byakato as delimited in the following map called Quelques Campements Pygmées.
For reference, Beni is shown in the foregoing map and in the map to the left. Beni is a significant city for this study because many NGO’s who can serve Mbuti Pygmies can access the subjects of the study areas from their offices in Beni.
The Mbuti Pygmies of this study area are now internally displaced people (IDP’s) and refugees who have been forced from their rainforest homelands by rebels, logging/deforestation, advancing agriculture and development and regional parks.
The rainforest was their food pantry, medicine cabinet, bank account, burial grounds and like their mother and father. In ancient times, Pygmies believed that the forest is where one goes when he or she dies. Everything originated and ended in their rainforest. Bush meat and honey (their primary sources of food) have been driven away as massive areas of the rainforest disappear. Relegated to eat rats, frogs and little fish found in the mud these original land owners of sub-Sahara Africa are continuing to be slowly genocided by exclusion from basic human rights such as land ownership, food, clean water, housing, healthcare, education, political representation and sanitation.
Comprehensive and multi-disciplined studies are needed to reveal to the world the plight of Mbuti Pygmies. Comparative statistics issued by respected authorities on the subjects will answer the question, “What is the problem?” This will naturally lead to ask and answer, “Why do these problems exist?” and “How do we best solve these problems?”
A study of Mbuti Pygmies, for example, may find that the Average Annual Income (AAI) of Mbuti Pygmies is approximately $90. By comparison, the AAI in DR Congo, Uganda, US and Luxembourg (highest) is $422, $506, $51,939 and $91,388 USD, respectively.
Note: Compare this to the GDP per capita of DR Congo $394 (lowest), Zimbabwe $589 (second lowest), Central African Republic $828 (sixth).
The average life expectancy (ALE) of Mbuti Pygmies is 16 or 18 or 24 years old according to dated studies of other Mbuti Pygmies. By comparison, the ALE of Batwa Pygmies in Southwestern Uganda was 25 in 1995 (recently it has improved due to expert development worthy of replication); and, the ALE in DRC 49.5 (third lowest), Central African Republic 48.5 (second lowest), Sierra Leone 47.5 (lowest), Uganda 54.5 and Japan 82.7 (highest). Other sources list Swaziland (31.9) and Angola (38.2) as the lowest and second lowest, respectively.
The leading cause of death among Pygmies differs greatly from even their closest neighbors; and, it does not resemble at all the leading causes of death in the developed world (e.g. heart disease, stroke, trachaeabronchus lung cancers, Alzheimer Disease, COPD) or even in Africa (Influenza & Pneumonia, Stroke, Diarrheal diseases, Coronary Heart Disease and Tuberculosis). The short and difficult lives of Pygmies are more often ended by health complications due to malnutrition/anemia, parasites, malaria, respiratory infections, typhoid and other diseases easily preventable with just clean water, food, sanitation and simple medicines. Malnutrition, malaria, tuberculosis, typhoid, schistazoma, escaridis and e. coli rates among Pygmies are among the highest in the developing world; yet, these issues are practically non–existent in the west.
The very nature and mindset of Mbuti Pygmies in their drastically changing environment is cause for them to currently be suffering like fish out of water. Mbuti Pygmies are nomadic hunter gatherer people (not farmers, shepherds, cattlemen or businessmen/traders) who have lived for MILLENIUM in a gigantic rain forest that is now gone.
Mbuti Pygmies have an average IQ of 54. According to over 8,000 studies, IQ has consistently been a precursor to income, health and occupation. Given the average Mbuti Pygmies IQ of 54, Mbuti Pygmies are most suited for agricultural labor. A rare few would qualify to be a carpenter or skilled laborer and that should not be considered without at least a primary school education. Special concern should be given to those most vulnerable Mbuti Pygmies on the lower end of the bell curve (which, by definition, are half of the population).
Many Mbuti Pygmies have never been to school and their children also have little hope of even a few years of education. In many ways, things continue as they did for their ancestors before them. Happily there is hope for at least 170 Mbuti Pygmies we are aware of who are now attending school. Many more thousands would attend school if only they had a uniform and school fees ($30 per year).
The literacy rate percentage (LRP) of adult Mbuti Pygmies in this survey may be found to be about 5%. By comparison, the LRP in DR Congo, Finland (Among the highest in the world), South Sudan, (lowest in the world) and Afghanistan (second lowest) is reportedly 66.8%, 100%, 27.0% and 28.1% respectively.
The average housing situation of Mbuti Pygmies, illustrated by the hut in the foreground of this photo, is possibly the worst on earth: the smallest, weakest, most temporary and least protective human home. A typical traditional Mbuti Pygmy dirt floor hut is made in a day or two by women of the village with banana leaves and palm fronds over thin sticks rising to only about 1.5 meters in height. These huts do not protect from rain and cold, much less insects (e.g. mosquitoes) and animals carrying disease (e.g. malaria). By comparison, neighbors live in cement block, brick or mud houses with tin or at least thatch roofs (as seen in the background). Though a very few Mbuti Pygmies now live in mud huts with tin roofs (typical for neighbors), not one neighbor lives in a tiny stick hut covered with banana leaves.
Census and Studies Required
Two comprehensive census and multi-disciplined studies of the Mbuti Pygmies living in the villages indicated by triangles on the included color coded map are needed to authoritatively establish the foregoing and other baseline statistics.
Phase one (answering “What is the problem?”) will report the forgoing comparative rates and statistics and others (leading causes of death, infant mortality, fertility, AIDS, alcoholism and poverty rates) based on the census.
Phase Two of the studies must answer “Why do these problems exist?” For example, why do Mbuti Pygmies live in such huts, not typically use latrines and suffer from a far higher malaria rates and other diseases than their neighbors? In this phase, Mbuti Pygmies themselves will be also asked “Why do these problems exist?” and “What do you want to do – or not do – about these problems?”
Phase Three must establish the best solutions in general and the best practices in particular to answer the question, “How do we best treat these problems? “ Obviously, building schools will alleviate illiteracy and building clean water sources and latrines will reduce disease and premature death caused by parasites; but, the methods of delivering these solutions must standardized to not increase alcoholism or dependence upon aid. Those intervening must not destroy the fragile work ethic or inadvertently teach Pygmies to beg and steal. Best practices to promote integration (rather than segregation) in education and health services must be programmed. The conclusion of Phase Three will produce a manual of best practices to which aid workers must adhere.
Phase Four must clearly define “Where, and exactly what, are the highest priority needs/projects?” This study will identify the complete and overall situation; then, it will prioritize the greatest needs by village. It will detail these needs and the order of importance for implementation.
Phase Five will generate specific bid requests from experienced and qualified partners for each and every identified need.
Phase Six is advertising these bid requests.
Phase Seven is funding of particular bid requests.
Phase Eight is awarding the bids and the actual implementation.
Phase Nine is supervision and verification.
Phase Ten is project re-evaluation.
Phase Eleven is reporting of results (successes and failures).
Phase Twelve is a revised proposal for Positive Change (perhaps in the same or other geographic areas such as South Kivu Province or Orientale Province – axis Komanda/Mambasa).
The ultimate goal is to deliver measurable positive change by raising the Average Life Expectancy, Average Annual Income, Intelligence Quotient and Literacy Rate Percentage and measurably lowering the infant mortality, poverty, malnutrition, alcoholism and AIDS rates. And, from the lessons learned, standardize the most effective holistic approaches and continually improve them.
In all of these statistics, transparency and the scientific process of producing reproducible results must be held as the highest value. All data and methods and standards of collection and analysis will be made public for peer review and on which to build for future studies and for comparison purposes.
One purpose of these statistics is to compare to the statistics of other nations to illustrate the greater need for intervention among Mbuti Pygmies than many other programs in other nations. And, these statistics must be generated on perfectly documented information that future researchers can use for comparisons.
Pygmies in the balance of Province Oriental and central and southern portions of Province Nord Kivu and those in South Kivu are excluded from this study.
Separate future studies will address the concerns of Mbuti Pygmies in other areas of the Province Oriental and North Kivu and other Pygmies in South Kivu Province.
Now, I am asking for your help in planning/engineering this census and study so that it is the most comprehensive and the most effective.
Who are the best persons to conduct these studies?
Please respond to this email address: [email protected]
Don “Love More”/”Penda Zaidi” Foster
Love Your Neighbor, Africa
Beni, DR Congo
April 15, 2015