Batwa dressed in their unique traditional attire made up of dry banana fibre and leaves guided UOBDU staff, UWA planning committee members and Flora and Fauna International (FFI) staff to show them their traditional sites that are located within their former ancestral lands of Bwindi National park.
Briefing by a mutwa lady
This process is within FFI a project that is looking at verifying cultural sites that are within the national park which wereconstructed and presented by the Batwa on their Participatory 3Dimensional Modelling (P3DM) maps and are kept within UOBDU.
The journey started early in the morning with a briefing on how the Journey would begin, end and what would transpire.
Though the journey involved passing in valleys, climbing of hills and difficulty in tracing the path to the site that had last been used in the past twenty year s and now covered with grown up bushes, Batwa managed to lead the team with no difficulty.
struggling through the forest
On the way Batwa demonstrated their traditional knowledge on the forest by identifying their former herbal medicines, wild fruits, and recognised former meeting places (Nturo ya bahara).Batwa also demonstrated local fishing methods using worms, making fire without a matchbox and many others.
When asked how Batwa would leave with animals, one mutwa lady Jovanis Nyiragasigwa remarkably expressed that, ‘‘Batwa used to live in harmony and in co existence with all the wild animals and we could not harm them.’’
It took about five and six hours for the team to arrive at the actual visitation site for the day, that is mpororo cave.
This cave according to the Batwa was formerly used by them as church to worship their ancestors and as a home to some Batwa.
This verification exercise indeed presented Batwa’s traditional knowledge of the forests and as former inhabitants/ custodians to these forests.
The exercise for further verification of more cultural sites still continues in Mgahinga national park in the next coming months
Thanks to UWA for continued authorisation of the team to access these sites and to FFI in collaboration with Darwin initiates for funding this process.