In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the lines are moving for the pygmies, who may soon benefit from positive discrimination. On Thursday, November 26, the National Assembly reviewed a bill on the protection and recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights, the first in this country. But this step did not make everyone happy.
as reported from Kinshasa, Pascal Mulegwa
Formerly suspended and stigmatized, their fate worries elected officials. Today it is said that there are over a million pygmies in Congo-Kinshasa. In addition to free primary school education, which has already begun for all children, the Pygmies can study up to high school for free.
The majority of Congolese of this population did not go to school due to prejudice. “Pygmy children could not study in the same schools as everyone else. Pygmy women could not give birth in the same motherhood as the others either. The pygmies could not even go to court because they were seen as subordinates. But today, with the innovation of free access to justice, we even recognize the ex officio Commission for Indigenous Pygmies. They must be accompanied by lawyers who will be paid by the Congolese state to stimulate them to participate in national life like all other Congolese, “explains Ruphin Rachidi, author of the bill.
A satisfaction for the Dynamics of Indigenous Peoples Groups (DGPA), a Congolese NGO that has been fighting for eight years for this law to be debated. “At the level of government services and institutions, this issue of cooperation, there are already promises in the direction of seeing how to integrate these elements into the electoral law. The most important element is the materialization of the law in the everyday life of the indigenous pygmies, in the protection of their sacred places and their current habitats, which is the great equatorial forest “, appreciates Patrick Sadiki, its coordinator. national.
A law that is not unanimous
In the half cycle, the debate was hot. Some deputies come across the official designation of the Pygmies as indigenous, suggesting: the other Congolese come from elsewhere.
“It’s a matter of identity and a matter of history. If it does not bother Americans to say that Indians are indigenous or Kenyans say that Masai are indigenous, I do not understand why we should care when we have studied since elementary school that the Pygmies are indigenous, says Christelle Vuanga, President of the Human Rights Commission at the Assembly .
Some elected officials did not approve this project, which they say remains discriminatory. They asked to extend its content to other minorities in the country.