For Congo's Pygmies, expulsion and forest clearance end a way of life

22 PHOTOS
A way of life is dying for Congo's Pygmies
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A way of life is dying for Congo's Pygmies
Habimana, 45, stands in front of her house, at Kagorwa Pygmy camp on Idjwi island in the Democratic Republic of Congo, November 25, 2016. Habimana has lived alone with her four daughters since her husband died of malaria in 2014. REUTERS/Therese Di Campo
Kavuha, 73, repairs a container at Kagorwa Pygmy camp on Idjwi island in the Democratic Republic of Congo, November 22, 2016. REUTERS/Therese Di Campo
Mwenyezi, 36, plays a guitar at Kagorwa Pygmy camp on Idjwi island in the Democratic Republic of Congo, November 25, 2016. REUTERS/Therese Di Campo 
A Bahavu woman stands (L) as Pygmy women sell pottery in the Bahavu village of Bugarula on Idjwi island in the Democratic Republic of Congo, November 23, 2016. REUTERS/Therese Di Campo 
People sing and dance at Kagorwa Pygmy camp on Idjwi island in the Democratic Republic of Congo, May 18, 2016. REUTERS/Therese Di Campo 
A woman boils cassava greens as she breastfeeds at Kagorwa Pygmy camp on Idjwi island in the Democratic Republic of Congo, May 18, 2016. REUTERS/Therese Di Campo
People gather around a fire in Kagorwa Pygmy camp on Idjwi island in the Democratic Republic of Congo, November 23, 2016. REUTERS/Therese Di Campo
A child tries to re-light a fire at Kagorwa Pygmy camp on Idjwi island in the Democratic Republic of Congo, November 23, 2016. REUTERS/Therese Di Campo
A nurse (R), prepares to give an injection to Voyage, 40, a Pygmy man who is suffering from a wound on his finger that has turned gangrenous, at the health centre in the village of Bugarula on Idjwi island in the Democratic Republic of Congo, November 24, 2016. REUTERS/Therese Di Campo
A Bahavu landlord (L) and Pygmy workers have an argument about wages, on Idjwi island in the Democratic Republic of Congo, November 24, 2016. REUTERS/Therese Di Campo 
A woman, 60, who is suffering from malaria rests in her house at Kagorwa Pygmy camp on Idjwi island in the Democratic Republic of Congo, November 22, 2016. The woman died from her illness a few days later. REUTERS/Therese Di Campo 
Men repair fishing nets, at Kagorwa Pygmy camp on Idjwi island in the Democratic Republic of Congo, November 25, 2016. REUTERS/Therese Di Campo 
A 10-year-old Pygmy girl laughs as she works weeding the land of a Bahavu farmer on the shore of Lake Kivu on Idjwi island in the Democratic Republic of Congo, November 24, 2016. REUTERS/Therese Di Campo
Children hold used syringes, which they found discarded near Kagorwa Pygmy camp on Idjwi island in the Democratic Republic of Congo, November 22, 2016. REUTERS/Therese Di Campo
Mwenyezi, 36, washes her baby who is suffering from fever, at Kagorwa Pygmy camp on Idjwi island in the Democratic Republic of Congo, November 24, 2016. Mwenyezi cannot afford to take her baby for medical care. Her baby has scars from "bleeding," which some Pygmies use to try and treat certain diseases. REUTERS/Therese Di Campo
A woman makes a clay pot at Kagorwa Pygmy camp on Idjwi island in the Democratic Republic of Congo, November 23, 2016. REUTERS/Therese Di Campo
A Pygmy woman, 20, shakes a pendo, a musical instrument made from a metal box filled with gravel, to calm her crying child, at Kagorwa Pygmy camp on Idjwi island in the Democratic Republic of Congo, November 22, 2016. REUTERS/Therese Di Campo
Habimana, 45, poses for a portrait at Kagorwa Pygmy camp, on Idjwi island in the Democratic Republic of Congo, November 25, 2016. REUTERS/Therese Di Campo
Manguiste, 24, sleeps at home in Kagorwa Pygmy camp on Idjwi island in the Democratic Republic of Congo, November 22, 2016. REUTERS/Therese Di Campo
Women look for clay soil, which they use to make pottery near Kagorwa Pygmy camp on Idjwi island in the Democratic Republic of Congo, November 23, 2016. REUTERS/Therese Di Campo
A boy plays football, at Kagorwa Pygmy camp on Idjwi island in the Democratic Republic of Congo, November 22, 2016. REUTERS/Therese Di Campo 
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IDJWI, Democratic Republic of Congo, Jan 12 (Reuters) - On Idjwi, the largest island in Democratic Republic of Congo, a way of life is dying.

Congo's Pygmies are among central Africa's oldest indigenous peoples. For millennia, they have lived as hunter-gatherers, surviving off the forest's bounty of plants, birds and monkeys.

Idjwi, in the middle of Lake Kivu, has been spared the ravages of wars in eastern Congo that have killed millions of people since 1996, mostly from hunger and disease.

But for its indigenous inhabitants, the advance of another culture has proved nearly as devastating. Like their ethnic kin across central Africa, Idjwi's Pygmies, widely known as Bambuti, have been pushed out of a native land to which they could assert no legal title -- in this case, to make way for an exploding ethnic Bantu population who now make up more than 95 percent of Idjwi's 280,000 inhabitants.

Around 1980, the Bambuti say, local authorities and customary chiefs from the Bahavu, a Bantu people, expelled them from the forests and turned the land over to Bahavu to farm and build houses.

The Bambuti lost their livelihood and, with few if any assets, no education, and no experience of how to support themselves in an alien environment, their society has withered.

"We are no more than 7,000 on the island, relocated on uncultivable land and scattered on the coast in makeshift camps on the fringe of villages, in total destitution," said Charles Livingstone, the chief of Idjwi's Pygmies.

"THE FOREST GAVE US EVERYTHING"

Most cannot read or write, and lack the money to send their children to school.

"Before, in the forest, we had everything we needed for an easy and happy life: food, shelter, medicine, clothes," said Habimana, a Bambuti woman of 45. "It's in our nature to live like that."

Adolphine Byaywuwa Muley, head of a local group for the empowerment of Pygmy women, acknowledged that there had been little concrete progress since she became minister of agriculture and environment for South Kivu province in 2013, and said lack of land was the root of the Bambutis' plight.

Ijdwi's local customary authorities argue that the Bambutis sold their land, Muley said. Moreover, South Kivu was "a province where there are a lot of land issues, land disputes everywhere, so you are told that ... nothing can be done."

Gervais Rubenga Ntawenderundi, the Bantu customary chief in the north of the island where the Bambuti live, said there were "no problems on the island between the two ethnic groups":

"The pygmies have never been driven out of the forest and have always lived near the villages in this way."

Other Bantu argue that entrenched discrimination against Pygmies is a legacy of colonial rule.

At national level, Congo's parliament first discussed a law to protect Pygmy rights in 2007, but it has yet to vote on a bill.

Thus the Bambuti scrape a living clearing fields or carrying heavy loads for Bahavu landowners, who often treat them with contempt.

Related: Another marginalized community in Africa:

32 PHOTOS
Albino children
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Albino children
5-year-old Baraka Cosmas Lusambo from Tanzania dances along as a video plays on a computer in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
5-year-old Baraka Cosmas Lusambo (R) from Tanzania holds hands with Elissa Montanati of the Global Medical Relief Fund in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
5-year-old Baraka Cosmas Lusambo from Tanzania talks with Elissa Montanati of the Global Medical Relief Fund in his bedroom in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
12-year-old Mwigulu Matonage Magesa from Tanzania looks at a book as he does homework in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
5-year-old Baraka Cosmas Lusambo from Tanzania looks out the window in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
5-year-old Baraka Cosmas Lusambo (R) from Tanzania sits on the lap of Elissa Montanati of the Global Medical Relief Fund in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Children from Tanzania sit on a sofa in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
5-year-old Baraka Cosmas Lusambo from Tanzania looks out of the window in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
12-year-old Mwigulu Matonage Magesa from Tanzania walks into his bedroom in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Mwigulu Matonage Magesa (L), Pendo Sengerema Noni (C) and Emmanuel Festo Rutema (R) sit on a sofa in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
12-year-old Mwigulu Matonage Magesa from Tanzania eats an apple as he does homework in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
13-year-old Emmanuel Festo Rutema from Tanzania eats an orange as he does homework in the Staten Island borough of New York in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Mwigulu Matonage Magesa (L) and Emmanuel Festo Rutema (R) put on their prosthetic arms as Baraka Cosmas Lusambo (C) looks on in their bedroom in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
5-year-old Baraka Cosmas Lusambo from Tanzania eats an apple as he does homework in the Staten Island borough of New York in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
15-year-old Pendo Sengerema Noni from Tanzania puts on her prosthetic arm in her bedroom in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Children from Tanzania play soccer in the backyard in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Children from Tanzania play cards in the living room in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
12-year-old Mwigulu Matonage Magesa from Tanzania poses for a portrait with a stuffed animal that he says makes him feel safe at night and that he sleeps with, in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
12-year-old Mwigulu Matonage Magesa from Tanzania poses for a portrait in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
5-year old Baraka Cosmas Lusambo (L) and 12-year-old Mwigulu Matonage Magesa from Tanzania play soccer in the backyard in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
13-year-old Emmanuel Festo Rutema from Tanzania poses for a portrait in the Staten Island borough of New York in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
15-year-old Pendo Sengerema Noni from Tanzania poses for a portrait with a stuffed animal she says she sleeps with at night to make her feel safe in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
13-year-old Emmanuel Festo Rutema from Tanzania poses for a portrait in the Staten Island borough of New York in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
5-year-old Baraka Cosmas Lusambo from Tanzania poses for a portrait in the Staten Island borough of New York in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
12-year-old Mwigulu Matonage Magesa from Tanzania poses for a portrait in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
5-year-old Baraka Cosmas Lusambo from Tanzania poses for a portrait with a plush heart that he says makes him feel safe at night and that he sleeps with, in the Staten Island borough of New York in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
15-year-old Pendo Sengerema Noni from Tanzania poses for a portrait in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri 
15-year-old Pendo Sengerema Noni from Tanzania poses for a portrait in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
5-year-old Baraka Cosmas Lusambo from Tanzania poses for a portrait in the Staten Island borough of New York in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
13-year-old Emmanuel Festo Rutema from Tanzania poses for a portrait with a plush toy that he says makes him feel safe at night and that he sleeps with, in the Staten Island borough of New York in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri 
Mwigulu Matonage Magesa (L) and Emmanuel Festo Rutema (R) put on their prosthetic arms as Baraka Cosmas (C) looks on in their bedroom in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
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"WE ARE TREATED AS SUB-HUMANS"

Habimana weeds the fields of a Bahavu businessman building a hotel on the coast, but earns only one-third as much as other workers, and has to sell pottery at market to make extra money.

"I'm used to it," she said. "We are treated as sub-humans."

At the Kagorwa camp, where close to 300 Pygmies were resettled from their ancestral Nyamusisi forest, crops will not grow on the land, and many of the children are gaunt and undernourished from a diet of "sombe": simple cassava leaves boiled in water, without salt or oil.

"This is the only food we have in sufficient quantity," said Adele, the camp's dean. "There are no more birds, no snakes, no monkeys."

The fishermen who set out onto the bright blue lake in canoes don't have much more luck. This evening, they have brought back only a handful of very small fish.

Manguist, a 24-year-old fisherman, said he had given up on the old Bambuti existence: "Our life from before is finished - but we don't deserve this misery. I want to leave the island, go to town, live in a brick house and educate my children."

Minister Muley believes that at least, through patient lobbying, understanding of the Bambutis' situation is growing.

She said the attitude that "Pygmies don't have the same human value as the Bantus" had not been helped by the fact that the pygmies themselves thought it was "normal to be discriminated against."

"But, with awareness," she said, "the indigenous people have understood that they have rights like everyone else."

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