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Rhodes College

Publication Date

Fall 2007

Program Name

Uganda: Development Studies


The Batwa are an indigenous people living throughout areas of central equatorial Africa. In Uganda, they constitute a small minority and live in parts of the West and Southwest, primarily in the districts of Bundibugyo, Kabale, Kisoro and Kanungu. This study was conducted in Kisoro District and the data deals primarily with the Batwa that live there. Many of the Batwa’s ancestral homelands were declared national parks in 1991. The Batwa were forced to leave and were given no compensation. As a result, many of them are now squatters and have been forced to beg for a living. Several organizations have engaged in resettlement and work on the Batwa’s behalf. One form of income-generation for the Batwa today is as performers in cultural tourism. This study sought to explore the concept of cultural tourism and its implications for development. To this end, it examined the ideas of culture and development for the Batwa and the importance of the forests to their livelihood. It also broadly studied the similarities between indigenous peoples worldwide and the role of culture in their development.

Information for this paper was gathered through a variety of methods. Firsthand information was obtained through many informal conversations and formal interviews with staff members of the United Organization for Batwa Development in Uganda (UOBDU) and with Batwa themselves. A great deal of outside reading was also done in order to better understand the plight of indigenous peoples worldwide and the history of the Batwa in Uganda. Several Batwa communities were interviewed, and a number of informal conversations with members of International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP), Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and tourists in Kisoro took place throughout the research period.

The content of this paper is centred on the concepts of culture and ethics, and the role they play in development. As a result, many of the findings from interviews and field research are presented in a discussion format, and final conclusions are left to the reader. A great deal of information about the history, culture and centrality of the forests in the Batwa culture is presented. Cultural tourism also emerged as a complex issue and this is reflected in its presentation. Many of the people interviewed thought very highly of the concept of cultural tourism, but personal opinion and outside research also allowed for the presentation of the negative aspects of such a program. A decisive verdict is left in the hands of the individual.


Growth and Development


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