"If you want to go see the Pygmys you better go in the morning. There's no point going in the afternoon"
"why's that? Too hot?"
"No. They're completely wasted. It's their culture"
In Kisoro, Uganda, we had one of our stangest experiences so far on this trip. We had a free day before we would track the mountain gorillas of Bwindi and going to a local Pygmy village seemed like a good idea. They were the original inhabitants of this part of Africa, before the big Bantu migration some couple of thousand years ago. Now they represent about 1% of the population. An anthropologists would describe a Pygmy as an adult that is less than 150 cm tall (4 feet 11 inches), but here most Pygmys have inter married with other tribes at some point or another, so most of them are quite a bit taller. Quite honestly, if you would see them on the street you could never tell. But I disgress, this is not the reason we are writing this post.
We arrived at the village at 10am. We were greated by the village chief, who's generally in charge and settles all disputes, but I couldn't really concentrate - my eyes were fixed on an older lady, probably in her 70's or 80's, who was busy puffing on a pipe that clearly smelled a bit dodgy. I asked what it was - Bangi, the swahili word for cannabis. It is illegal in Uganda but not for the Pygmys, they declared it as part of their culture. Further down into the village it became apparent that all of the ladies had a smiliar pipe. The guys were trying to show us their huts, but they could barely walk in a straight line, firmly clenching a small plastic bottle of moonshine in their hand. Everyone here was high on some substance or another, and anyone who wasn't completely wasted already was on the best way to get there. Let me remind you this is 10am in the morning.
But even that I could somehow understand, at least to some degree - there is a saying in German: "Different cultures, different customs". Unfortunately it got worse than that. I was standing next to a kid, maybe 5 or 6 years old, and I could pick up a strong smell coming from what I thought was a bottle of juice that he was drinking. I asked, a bit reluctantly, if the kids were drinking alcohol. Of course they were, 60%-70% strong moonshine. They start giving it to them at the age of 2. Culture of not, this is just wrong. I don't think that those guys are aware that giving strong alcohol to a kid of that age is pretty much a death sentence. It's just sad. I guess if you want to visit the pygmy's of Uganda, you better hurry up.
If you think this juice, think again. This little girl is drinking 60-70% moonshine.
At the end they performed a dance for us. The singing was amazing and full of emotion, but even the merriest of the dancers could not surpress the feeling that this was a swan song.
Potters Village Orphanage
Nikki here. We have to give this post bit more positivity. We experienced a whole different side to Kisoro in the Potters Village Orphanage. This was started by a lady from the UK who was working in Africa as a missionary at the local church and was sick of having to burry abandoned babies. She started the orphanage as a center for abandoned and orphaned babies, teenage mums and destitute pre-school children who needed care and help to be reintroduced back to their families and communities.
At the moment the orphanage has 20 children in its care. There is a medical centre which helps local parents with sick children, and it even provides 2 incubators. We heard an amazing story where a woman from a community an hour away gave birth to a premature baby. The husband heard that the clinic had inubators and could help babies who were born early. So he grabbed the baby, with the inblical cord still attached, put it on his motorbike and drove for an hour to the clinic. After that he went back to pick up his wife. Both the baby and the mum survived thanks to his quick thinking.
At the clinic we got to see children of three different ages. The first room was for the new born babies up to 3 months old. I got to hold a gorgeous baby and then B held her ... he looked very uncomfortable as she had a little spew on him (his words were: "Playing Brangelina is not for me.."). The next room was for the babies 6 months old, all of which were adorable and healthy. The last place we visited was for the 12-16 month babies - they were all in their high chairs getting ready for food. Unfortunately they were a bit scared of us too as we are Mzungu´s (white poeple) and they dont see many of us around.