Who will survive? And what will be left of them?
Pygmy activists from Congo have demanded the United Nations set up a tribunal to try government and rebel fighters accused of slaughtering and eating Pygmies who are caught in the country’s civil war.
Army, rebel and tribal fighters – some believing the Pygmies are less than human or that eating the flesh would give them magic power – have been pursuing the Pygmies in the dense jungles, killing them and eating their flesh, the activists said at a news conference yesterday.
There have been reports of markets for Pygmy flesh, the representatives alleged.
“In living memory, we have seen cruelty, massacres, genocide, but we have never seen human beings hunted and eaten literally as though they were game animals, as has recently happened,” said Sinafasi Makelo, a representative of the Mbuti Pygmies in Congo.
The other part of the argument is that all observed pygmy populations have a short life expectancy. Indeed, this, according to Dr Migliano’s hypothesis, is the crucial evolutionary pressure. Of the six groups of pygmies for whom data exist, two have a life expectancy of 24 years and the other four about 16 years.
Deep in the jungles of northern Congo, it’s still easy to find slave owners. Davila Djemba, the teenage niece of the country’s minister of forestry, is eager to show off some of the 100 Pygmies her family owns.
She laughs and chatters as she makes her way along a footpath toward her family’s estate in this growing logging village. She’s eager to play hostess, since she doesn’t get many foreign visitors.
Djemba walks past typical scenes of African peasant life. But the bucolic setting masks an ugly truth, one that surfaces as Djemba considers how to entertain her guest that night. As she nears her family’s home, surrounded by half a dozen Pygmy huts, Djemba gets an idea. “We can make them sing and dance for you, if you want,” she offers.
(Hat-tip to Half-Sigma.)