Dina Buck

Dina Buck (United Organisation for Batwa Development in Uganda - UOBDU): Dina’s undergraduate degrees include a BA in Philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and a BS in Environmental Policy and Assessment from Huxley College of the Environment at Western Washington University. In 2010, Dina served as an AP Peace Fellow with the Kampala-based World Peasants/Indigenous Organization (WPIO), now called the East and Central Africa Association for Indigenous Rights (ECAAIR), which advocates for Batwa rights in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. At the time of her 2011 fellowship, Dina was studying for her Master’s degree in International Human Rights at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at University of Denver, with concentrations in both sustainable development and international administration and law. After her fellowship Dina wrote: “This fellowship has helped me learn more about my capabilities and my handicaps. I also feel I understand better how to sustainably empower people, and work with them in a way that honors their dignity, intelligence, and capabilities.”



MAPPING THE BATWA’S ANCESTRAL TERRITORY

13 Jul

For those of you who may not have read my earlier blogs, UOBDU has been working with the Batwa to map their cultural knowledge of the forests they’ve been evicted from and, I have to admit, the 3-D map UOBDU did of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is quite impressive. It’s a miniature 3-D model of Bwindi and surrounds, made of stacked cardboard that was cut, layer by layer, and stacked (topo-style). Then I believe they covered the cardboard in crepe paper, and painted it. The map is made up of many separate blocks that, when placed side by side, create a completed map.

Different colored paint, yarn, and pins mark different aspects on the map. For example, white pins mark wild honey, gold pins mark wild yams, green pins mark medicinal plants, black pins mark caves, red yard-encircled areas mark traditionally forbidden boundaries, blue paint encircled areas mark gorilla habitats, etc. Burial sides, sacred sites, and other areas are also marked. I was struck by all the small paper tags with every hill and mountain top’s name, demonstrating the Batwa knew each and every corner of the forest.

The history behind the creation of the map is cool too. The Batwa traveled to Kenya to meet with the indigenous Ogiek people who are presently threatened with eviction from their traditional forest lands by the Kenyan government. (Click here to read about them.) One of the things the Ogiek were doing was this 3-D mapping. So, the Batwa returned to Uganda to do the same.

Details about the creation of the map, posted on the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) website states, “More than 100 representatives from the Batwa communities surrounding Bwindi, including youth, elders, women and men attended the exercise over a three-week period.” Very, very cool. The FPP website has photos, but below are a few I took of the map, the key, and the three Mutwa who came and talked to the UOBDU staff last week (whom I discussed in my last blog). The dynamic woman, doing a lot pointing in the pictures, is Giovannis. She’s older, and obviously knew a lot about the forest. As I also stated last time, the Batwa have been evicted long enough now that increasingly fewer of them still hold knowledge of the forests.

Sometime toward the end of the month, or in early August, UOBDU will work with the Batwa to map Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. I’m excited that I’ll get to see the process!

Bwindi 3-D Model.
Bwindi 3-D Model.
Discussing the map
Discussing the map
Giovannis, in the middle, explaining aspects of Bwindi
Giovannis, in the middle, explaining aspects of Bwindi
Half the model's key
Half the model’s key
Other half of the model's key
Other half of the model’s key

Posted By Dina Buck

Posted Jul 13th, 2011

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