When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Sources

A Special Weaving Technique Helping Pygmies Overcome Ethnic Hatred

Pygmies in Uganda
Pygmies in Uganda
Eric Nshemezimana

KAYANZA – It seemed like such a small thing when it began nearly a year ago here in northern Burundi: Pygmies would share their unique weaving techniques to the ethnic Hutus and Tutsis of the Kayanza province.

But learning to weave carpets, nets, handbags, even tables and chairs…and for free...has earned unexpected waves of good will for for Pygmies from peoples who had historically ignored and even mistreated them.

“We are very happy when we are teaching people from other ethnic groups. We can see the value that we can offer,” declares Rwabaye, one of the Pygmies who helped launch the program after learning the special weaving technique from nuns in Kayanza's parish of Rukago.

Their neighbors also appreciate what the exchange has offered beyond just learning better ways to weave. “Since our childhood, we consider the Pygmies a primitive people," admits Bosco Alias Dondi, a Tutsi. "We were taught that they weren’t worth much for society besides making pots, surely not for teaching us anything."

Another weaving student Jean puts it this way: “Before we came here to learn this technique, we neglected the Pygmies. We didn’t even approach them. Sometimes we would run in to them along the way, but we never imagined that we would one day come to where they live."

Hard economics

The weaving usually happens outside, but when it rains, the Hutus and Tutsis now don't hesitate to enter the homes of the Pygmies, and even sharing a meal and letting their children play together.

The warmer social relations, and the new output of woven products, have also led to newfound trust with local boutiquiers (store owners). “Now I can give credit. I see that they are capable of paying. It is not like before when they could only count on their pottery,” declares a boutiquier from the Gasenyi hill. "It makes no sense to keep seeing them as thieves, as we have always thought. Some have built their homes leaving the straw huts behind where they traditionally lived."

For the Pygmies, something as simple as a new weaving technique has the potential for changing lives. “Since we lack arable land, this job is a good alternative. With this activity, I am easily able to support my family,” says Eric Minani. He earns about $20 a week from weaving, mostly by producing women’s $4 handbags since they are in highest demand. There are also smaller objects that are cheaper and easier to sell: small rugs for cars and seats, while bigger objects are woven on demand, and sold either directly at the market or to store owners.

Still, the economics of such a labor-intensive process are still far from advantageous. “We cannot survive on the low prices that buyers offer us, and we are forced to accept," says one weaver. "We only have them to count on to live, with our lack of land, we have nothing else to turn to.”

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

Dossier Perfumes: Luxury Fragrance Experience, At An Affordable Price

Fragrances have been an essential part of our daily routine since ancient times. From perfumes made with natural ingredients in ancient Egypt to modern day synthetic perfumes, the fragrance industry has come a long way. Dossier Perfumes, a luxury fragrance brand, is making a name for itself by offering a new kind of fragrance experience to its customers.

Dossier was founded out of a desire to make premium fragrances accessible to everyone. For the longest time perfumes have been sold for more than they cost to make. Dossier believes in changing the fragrance industry’s status quo.

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest