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Here are Africa’s 7 Most Indigenous People Facing Extinction

They are receiving awful treatment and being abused all in the name of tourism, wildlife, political conflicts and industry.

Essentially, the global demand for raw materials, agro-business and infrastructure projects are pushing these African indigenous peoples to their last boundaries.

This is not only threatening their cultures and very survival, but through neglect, they fall victims of land grabbing and land dispossession caused by extractive industries, agribusiness and other forms of business operations, according to The Indigenous World 2017 report.

As people commemorate the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples today to promote and protect the rights of the world’s indigenous population, here are some indigenous people of Africa who may soon disappear if appropriate measures are not taken to safeguard their rights.

Africa’s 7 most indigenous people facing extinction
San

Also known as Bushmen, these people of the Kalahari desert in Botswana have for over 20 years been evicted from their lands to make way for tourism and mining activities. Since they are considered a threat to wildlife, many of them have been evicted from their homes, their water supply has been cut off and they have been restricted from hunting.

The Central Kalahari game park is now a no-go area for them even though they have lived on the desert for years, meanwhile, the site is hosting one of the largest diamond mines in the world.

In 2006 the high court granted the Bushmen the right to return to their land, but as of 2016, the government was still enforcing a permit system.

Africa’s 7 most indigenous people facing extinction

Pygmies

They are traditionally hunter-gatherers living in the rainforests throughout central Africa. Each is a distinct people, such as the Twa, Aka, Baka and Mbuti living in countries across central Africa, including the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Uganda and Cameroon.

They identify themselves as ‘forest peoples’ due to the fundamental importance of the forest to their culture, livelihood and history. But in the past years, their homelands have been destroyed by war, logging and encroachment from farmers.

In Cameroon, the government has forcibly removed the Baka people from the southern tropical forests for logging projects and have resettled them in environments they are unfamiliar with, exposing them to poverty and discrimination.

The end result is they are unable to transfer their forest skills to their children, leading to a loss of traditional knowledge, according to minorityrights.org.

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Africa’s 7 most indigenous people facing extinction
Sengwer 
Sengwer

These indigenous peoples from Kenyan’s western highlands have suffered forced removals from Kenyan authorities over the years. According to reports, many projects, including the World Bank-funded programmes have had devastating consequences for these hunter-gatherers.

Since 1964, the Sengwer have been barred from their ancestral forests but they still return and are now largely living in makeshift homes, camped out on roadsides, media reports say.

Africa’s 7 most indigenous people facing extinction
Ogiek Tribe
Africa’s 7 most indigenous people facing extinction
Ogiek

They have been repeatedly asked by Kenyan authorities to move from the Mau forest to protect national water supplies and wildlife but have refused.

The Mau forest has been degraded following the activities of logging companies and illegal settlers.

The Ogiek insist that they are not responsible and are refusing to move. Even though the Kenyan government has burnt down many of their homes, they are still fighting back.

Africa’s 7 most indigenous people facing extinction
Africa’s 7 most indigenous people facing extinction
Maasai

As at 2016, thousands of these pastoralist groups in Tanzania have been evicted from their lands close to the Serengeti, Maasai Mara and Ngorongoro national parks.

Media reports state that the government has, over the years, tried to evict them to establish exclusive game-hunting in the area. Over 3,ooo people were rendered homeless after a mass eviction in 2009.

There are now fears of further extinction since after suffering from the consequences of land grabbing by powerful companies, they now have to deal with climate change and drought which is affecting them and their livestock.

The Koogere oral tradition of the Basongora — Intangible Cultural Heritage – Unesco
Basongora

Traditionally hailing from Kasese in Western Uganda, these pastoralist groups had also occupied the plains in the neighbourhood of Imaramagambo forest in Western Uganda.

Their traditional way of life has not only been heavily affected by civil wars in the area, but their lands have also been lost to conservation measures. The Koogere oral tradition, which is an essential part of their folk expression, is severely threatened.

Now numbering around 15,000 from a previous 40,000 figure, these indigenous people, right from colonial rule, lost 90 per cent of their land between 1900 and 1955 to establish the Queen Elizabeth National Park.

After their homes and animals were destroyed, post-independence governments have neglected their plight and have rather given out more parcels of their lands for additional military and government projects.

El Molo
El Molo

With only about 800 people, the El Molo people from Kenya are struggling to survive. This smallest ethnic group, living on the south-eastern shore of Lake Turkana, are living a rather isolated life after years of conflict with other ethnic groups.

Fishing is their main source of livelihood and their native language is almost dead. Tourism is, however, reviving their economic situation as many come to El Molo for their native crafts and arts.

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