How we got the Pygmies and the Bantus in our School to Make Friends

My name is Fatuma Feza. I am 12 and a half years old. The story I want to share with you is of something I experienced between a Bantu pupil and a Pygmy pupil at my school.

I am a fifth-year pupil at Magulu Muyembo Primary School, in the village of Sango Malumbi, in Kalemie, Katanga province. In September, along with 40 pupils from our school, we received training on the Convention of the Rights of the Child and peace. Then, I was fortunate to be selected as one of 4 pupils, two girls and 2 boys, to be trained as a Child Reporter for our school by young journalists from Kalemie.

Our role is to raise awareness of peace amongst the children in our village and school. We also work to resolve conflicts and put a case forward to parents, the village chief and the school head teacher when children’s rights are not respected.

Fatuma Feza

In our village, Pygmies were excluded from everything

Before, I used to think discrimination was normal because we had learnt from a very early age that Pygmies were inferior to us. We could never be with them; whether it was at church, at school, at the well… they had to live far away from us. It was after our training that I realised it was a great mistake to think of them in that way.

At school, we have the school canteen where we eat once a day. This year, there are many children and not enough plates. The head teacher told us that some children would have to share their meal off the same plate until the parents provided some more. That day, Mushapa, a Bantu pupil, was to share his meal off the same plate as Kalutshe, a Pygmy pupil.

The Bantu pupil refused to let the Pygmy pupil touch the plate.

He was adamant, despite interventions by the head teacher and teachers. They argued heatedly because the Pygmy pupil was also determined to eat, at all costs.

Annoyed by this humiliation, all the Pygmy children walked out of school with their fellow pupil, Kalutshe, and went to tell their parents what had happened. The Pygmy children’s parents went to see the village chief to tell of their disapproval of this injustice and to inform him of their decision to remove all their children from the only school in the village.

Hearing about the situation, my 3 friends and I went to see the head teacher

We asked him to give us some time before going into lessons to speak to all the pupils about respect of others, of peace between pupils and the rights of each child. He agreed and then gave us permission to go and speak to the Pygmy children who hadn’t come to school that day.

We went to Kalutshe’s home to speak with him and the other Pygmy children who were angry. They understood what we said, we asked to be forgiven and spoke with their parents. At school home time, we went back there with Mushapa, the one who had annoyed the Pygmy pupil.

Enfant Reporter réconcilie pygmées et bantous

He asked his colleague, Kalutshe, and Kalutshe’s parents to forgive him

Everyone was happy. We had put into practice what we had studied. We went to see the village chief to ask him to speak to the parents about peace, the right to education without discrimination for all children and of peaceful coexistence for all (Bantus and Pygmies).

The chief held this meeting with the Bantu and Pygmy parents and the school head teacher was there. They promised to keep a watchful eye on children’s harmonious relations at school and in the community.

Today, we are in perfect harmony with the Pygmy children at school, in the village and at the well. We play together and 16 Pygmy children from our school have received training on the Convention of the Rights of the Child and peace. They also work with us to raise awareness.

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Fatuma

Fatuma a 12 ans et demi. Elle est élève en cinquième année de l’Ecole Primaire Magulu Muyembo, dans le village de Sango Malumbi, à Kalemie dans le Katanga. Avec ses camarades, elle mène des plaidoyers sur les droits des enfants et la paix, dans son école et son village.

Fatuma is 12 ½ years old. She is a pupil in year 5 of Magulu Muyembo Primary School in the village of Sango Malumbi, in Kalemie, Katanga Province. Together with her classmates, she leads advocacy activities for children’s rights and for peace in her school and her village.

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