Exposures

The Pygmies – The Tua

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Text by Patty Simon | Images by Dick Simon
Rwanda

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We travel down a bumpy, muddy clay road going through smaller and poorer villages until we see a barefoot woman sitting outside of a mud and clay hut, making a pot. The Tua (or pygmies) comprise only 1% of Rwanda’s population. They are the poorest in the country and JP told us they will want money. This is such a dilemma in traveling.

We do not encourage “begging”. JP once told us when boys were asking for money that if we gave them something, it would not only encourage more “asking”. They would quit going to school. He said little children show off their cute smile and get coins but as they grow up, their cuteness wears off and their only recourse is to turn to stealing. They end up in prison. JP told a great story about when he found one of these boys. He coaxed and threatened and even fed him breakfast everyday to get him to school. The boy is now finishing secondary school and has a scholarship for college!

So, back to the Tua. I use my IPhone to video the pot making. Hand built. They use the broken bottom of a round fired pot to turn the clay. No fancy wheel. As I video all the children start watching the camera as if it is a movie and all they need is popcorn. Once they figure out they are on film, the kids create a choir and the young women begin to chant and dance. They get Alex and me to dance and JP starts taking our picture. Quite funny! By the time we finish, we have attracted a huge group all expecting a “gift”. What to do? JP suggests giving to the head of village so he presents $50 USD – a small fortune! They cheer, and then bicker. Will there be a fight? Uh oh! What have we done? JP gets out of car and sets them all straight. Ah, a happy ending… We think!

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