I arrived in Mbandaka when I was 10 years old. Ever since then I have been faced with the existence of two distinct communities: the “Bantus” and the “Pygmies”. In Equateur province, in the northwestern of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Bantu community consider the Pygmy community as inferior beings. Torture, marginalisation and discrimination are part of everyday life for Pygmy children in DRC.
It all started with a friendship
It was around that time that I met Paul, our guard’s son. He was of Pygmy origin, we were very good friends, we ate together, we went out together, we played together and we worked together. Not all my friends accepted my friendship with Paul but he taught me a lot, above all, he taught me that we are all the same.
I can say with certainty that Pygmy children have the same capabilities and potentials as all other children. However in Mbandaka, cohabitation between Pygmies and Bantus is not visible. Quite often Pygmy children feel inferior and the Bantu children feel superior.
When I was 15 years old, I joined the group “Nouvelle Génération de Mbandaka” whose aim is to promote cohabitation between the Pygmy and Bantu people. We work daily to make it clear that all communities are equal. The Bantus have to consider the Pygmies as their equals, but the Pygmies must also understand that they have rights. We keep on repeating this message through radio broadcasts and outreach sessions within the communities.
Children’s rights apply to all children
We must live with mutual respect and dignity as is stated in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Every child has the same rights no matter if the child be Bantu or Pygmy, black or white, rich or poor, disabled or not disabled.
Children’s rights apply to all children.
I call upon the members of both communities to put aside their differences and create a common living space. I also encourage Pygmy and Bantu children to live together in peace, joy and kindness.
More info about Pygmy children in DRC
Kindly translated from French by Lorraine Valarino
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