Batwa - Encyclopedia

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BATWA, a tribe of African pygmies living in the mountainous country around Wissmann Falls in the Kasai district of the Belgian Congo. They were discovered in 1880 by Paul Pogge and Hermann von Wissmann, and have been identified with Sir H. M. Stanley's Vouatouas. They are typical of the negrito family south of the Congo. They are well made, with limbs perfectly proportioned, and are seldom more than 4 ft. high. Their complexion is a yellow-brown, much lighter than their Bantu-Negroid neighbours. They have short woolly hair and no beard. They are feared rather than despised by the Baluba and Bakuba tribes, among whom they live. They are nomads, cultivating nothing, and keeping no animals but a small type of hunting-dog. Their weapon is a tiny bow, the arrows for which are usually poisoned. They build themselves temporary huts of a bee-hive shape. As hunters they are famous, bounding through the jungle growth "like grasshoppers" and fearlessly attacking elephants and buffalo with their tiny weapons. Their only occupation apart from hunting is the preparation of palmwine which they barter for grain with the Baluba. They are monogamous and display much family affection. See further Pygmy; Akka; Wochua; Bambute.

See A. de Quatrefages, The Pygmies (Eng. ed., 1895) Sir H. H. Johnston, Uganda Protectorate (1902); Hermann von Wissmann, My Second Journey through Equatorial Africa (London, 1891).

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