I recently took some time off, to reflect and also go on a mini vacay to Mt. Gahinga seeing as things had gotten a little hectic in my life. This vacay couldn't have come at a better time seeing as I was in a transition process in my life. I have been working on a few projects which I will be sure to let you in on as they unfold. So that explains why I have been quiet for a while... There I go again, rumbling.
Now on to the real reason for this post. My holiday was such a humbling experience, and here's why: I met the Batwa people. For those who don't know the Batwa, Here is a brief history:
Batwa Heritage Experience at Gahinga
"The Batwa of Uganda were forest dwellers who lived by gathering and hunting as the main source of food. They are believed to have lived in the Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga National parks that border Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda living mainly in areas bordering other Bantu Tribes.
In 1992, the lives of the Batwa pygmies changed forever. The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest became a national park and World Heritage Site to protect the 350 endangered mountain gorillas within its boundaries. The Batwa were evicted from the park. Since they had no title to land, they were given no compensation. The Batwa became conservation refugees in an unfamiliar, unforested world. Through the Batwa Experience, more can be known about the Batwa of Uganda.
They now live in communities where they have been resettled by NGOs in Uganda." (excerpt from Wikipedia)
My life changed the day I met these people and here's why. These people used to live in the forest, but were displaced by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) because they were trying to preserve the forest and the Mountain Gorilla in it's natural Habitat. Stephen, A mutwa we met expressed his disappointment with this displacement as he said they had no issues cohabiting with the animals in the forest. They had now been displaced and were being forced to adapt a new lifestyle that is considered by us to be more "normal". Except to the Batwa there is nothing normal about going to school, working to get paid so you can buy food. All of this is quite foreign to them seeing as the life they know is about going out to hunt, gather some fruits in the forest and that's all they need to be happy. When I spoke to Stephen on whether he would be happier going back to live in the forest as opposed to the new lifestyle they had been provided by the NGO's he replied with a strong YES! And so I thought to myself, "this man is crazy". Why would anyone want to live in the forest, with no internet, no phones, no fancy clothes or restaurants, Just really live on the basics of life.
The Batwa Entertaining us through dance at Gahinga
Then it hit me, I had it all wrong this whole time. The simple things are all one needs to be happy, but so often we look to the material things, the fancy things and think they will give us happiness, but no happiness from having the latest gadget can compare to the happiness that lit up Stephen's eyes at the mere thought of going back to the simple life. He just wasn't about that fancy life. He just wanted to be in the forest, make a fire using sticks, go hunting, and gather some herbs, come home to his wife and children and have some bonding time over dancing and singing. They did entertain us, and i must admit they are quite enjoyable people to live around. They are very warm and welcoming, despite their troubles, they smiled for us all the time, and didn't get tired of answering all the questions we had about their lifestyle. It was such a surreal moment, as I felt like I had been taken back in time, and living the history I always read about in the books. Oh the simple life. But not us, we are not like the Batwa.
A twa woman in her natural Habitat ( straw house)
We don't want the simple life. We spend our days doing everything we can to make the most money we can, and then spend all of it on things that eventually don't even bring us the happiness we were looking for. We need to go back to the basics. Appreciate the simple things about life. I have never felt more loved and welcome, yet I was living among strangers. We live in a city that's overly populated, and yet we rarely come into contact with the people we know. Something happens in your neighbors house and you find out about it on The 9:00 O'clock news because his gate is so high up, and he has five security dogs, whatever happened to our culture of sitting around the fire, telling stories, and bonding with our peers and elders. It's no wonder the world has gone kukus today, with children lacking morals, knowing nothing about their history and culture and thinking it's the cool thing to do. I wept for my unborn children, for the confused world they will be born into. Will they ever know the simple life? I wonder... I do hope though that when the time comes, I will have enough time for them, to tell them about who they are, where they come from so that they not only become a part of their heritage, but also know that they belong and be proud.
Till Next time