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Abatwa

Abatwa

In a land where men lead each other hand-in-hand, but homophobia runs rampant, we drove off the main road and miles up the ridge to one of the pockets hardest hit by the genocide – a place where the residents stopped waving back. An area so very isolated, it was as if the genocide never ended. Topping that, we were traveling this dirt trail with two Tustis near an area where they had recently been “hunting Rwandans,” and a sense of discomfort was palpable, as if an invisible line had been crossed and we’d entered ibiwa (“problems”)…

“Ian Brennan and Glitterbeat deserve much praise in bring forward the neglected music.” fRoots

The Abatwa (“pygmy”) tribe is identified as one of the most marginalized, voiceless and endangered populations in Africa. In fact, their name is frequently taken in vain as a slur towards unrelated others. Historically, the tallest Abatwa women have attracted outside attention and then been taken as wives by other tribes. This has contributed to the growth of their tribe remaining limited physically. Though for the most part they were left alone during the genocide, some members of the tribe actually participated in committing acts of genocide.

The album Abatwa: Why Did We Stop Growing Tall? brings together a dozen songs by singers, instrumentalists and rappers from this marginalized community in a soulfully raw insight into their world.

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