Batwa culture is one of the most ancient and endangered in the entire world. For thousands of years they have survived in the forest and have a vast store of cultural knowledge relating to this. Historically, Batwa people would have had an in depth knowledge of forest plants, especially for medicinal purposes, they could track bees to find their hives and collect honey and had a whole range of techniques used to survive. Traditionally this knowledge would have been passed on orally through dancing and storytelling but now much of this knowledge is no longer relevant to their lives and sadly, despite the Batwa retaining their love of stories and dance, is being lost in modern communities.
In Uganda, Batwa constitute around 0.03% of the total population, with the highest number (just under 1000) living in the Kisoro region. Their small numbers and lack of education and wealth mean they have little political clout, and as a result have become very much marginalised in society. It is for this reason the Volcanoes Safaris Partnership Trust (VSPT) is involved in helping the community around Mount Gahinga Lodge (around 25 families) in the hope that we can improve the lives not only of those local to us but also, through increasing awareness, the position of the Batwa in Ugandan society as a whole.
The VSPT have begun to support the Batwa Dance Group. The dance group was originally identified for use in the UWA Batwa Trail in Mgahinga National Park, however it offered limited opportunity to earn money and subsequently the VSPT agreed to support the initiative entirely. The group now perform once a week on Volcanoes Safaris land for the benefit of the local community and Volcanoes Safaris clients.
You can learn about the Batwa culture first-hand when visiting Uganda around Mount Gahinga and Bwindi with Volcanoes Safaris. Particularly around Mount Gahinga Lodge, the Batwa Dance Group, the Batwa trail and other cultural exchange activities are a major appeal of the lodge! It's important to help protect their way of life and learn from it as much as we can.