Ituri Forest Pygmies | Who Rules the Forest? National Geographic Magazine: A Bantu organizes a Pygmy choir in a church in Epulu | DR Congo

A Bantu organizes a Pygmy choir in a church in Epulu | DR Congo

Pygmies have no land rights.  The colonizing Belgians assigned land rights to residing ethnic groups and this still holds. Because Pygmies are nomadic and had no chiefs, they also did not receive land rights.  Pygmies land rights are only in association with the sedentary groups.  A Bantu chief will tell another Bantu chief, “Your Pygmies are hunting on our Pygmies hunting grounds.”  Pygmies are also at the bottom of the social caste system—they have no power.  Strong ethnic groups still have strong land rights.

The Belgians had to stabilize land quickly so they could manage the country.  The Gold fields were rushed into production in the early 40’s to pay for the allied WWII war effort.

So ritual authorities rule land and their ethnicity links them to the administration of that land.

After the end of the cold war, 1st world countries were less likely to prop up non-communist African countries. This has led to a general collapse of the infrastructure of a number of countries including DR Congo.

From my journal:

We are leaving Epulu for good.  Medar (the world’s best 4WD driver) has brought the WCS Land Cruiser up from Beni… We load all my luggage in and don’t even get to the edge of the reserve when the Conservator commandeers our car to go to Mambasa.  The evening before all sorts of men were going by my window with flashlights waking me…  They were talking to John thru his window saying a pygmy had been killed in a shoot out with the soldiers and he had to send his huge Volvo truck with four rangers as backup…  Pretty ridiculous notion in the first place… just put them on bicycles… but the whole thing turned out to be a hoax… another wacky episode from this screwed up conservator…  So now in the car this same guy is asking where I am staying… Paluku says later that the conservator said… he is a white man… he has much money… we must stay around him and get his money…  Paluku lies and says I am staying at a CEFRECOF transfer house and then he arranges for me to stay at the Catholic Mission in Mambasa.

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