The Echuya Batwa, commonly known as “Batwa” or in some cases “Twa”, are an indigenous pygmy tribe dwelling in south western Uganda currently within the districts of Kabale, Bundibugyo, Rukungiri and Kisoro. At about 6,700 individuals, they barely make up 0.3 percent of the whole Ugandan population; making them a minority group of concern.
It is believed that the Batwa have lived in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest for more than three centuries. They were originally hunters and gatherers who sourced wild meat and fruits from the forest, and occasionally herbs for treating illnesses.
Unfortunately, in 1991, with conservation efforts underway, they were evicted from Bwindi and forced to become squatters on neighbors’ land. Presently, most of the Batwa families depend on the Mgahinga and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Conservation Trust to keep their families going.
A brief history
Twa elders will argue that their existence is tied to the legend of a wealthy man, Kihanga, who had three sons; Katutsi, Kahutu and Katwa. To test their capability, he handed them a gourd full of milk to safe guard throughout the night. In the morning; Katutsi’s gourd was still full while Kahutu’s was halfway and Katwa’s was entirely empty.
To Katutsi, Kihanga gave all his cows and to Kahutu a hoe and some precious seeds to grow food. Katwa however was given the forest, where he would live as a hunter and gatherer for generations to come.
A unique experience quite like no other
The Batwa remain one of the most intriguing communities in Uganda. Their fascinating history has been echoed down from generation to generation and you can be a part of this unique way of life with a batwa cultural trail. Have the opportunity to;
The Uganda safaris Batwa cultural trail lasts about 5 hours, starting off with a hike through the forest and later a visit to the community. The adventure is often led by a local Twa guide who kneels down and asks the spirits for safe passage through the sacred forest.