Thanks to the involvement of women, peaceful coexistence between the Twa and Bantu peoples is gradually becoming a reality in the Nyuzu territory of Tanganyika

In the province of Tanganyika, relations between the Twa and Bantu communities remain deeply unequal. According to gathered testimonies, violence between the two communities that erupted in 2016 still persisted in many territories. These tensions stem partly from the lack of sustainable economic opportunities, access to livelihoods, barriers to Twa people’s rights equality, limited access to land, and basic social services such as health, education, and protection, leading to their exclusion from local political decision-making.

On the other hand, the long-standing economic and political marginalization of the Twa, coupled with the social discrimination they face from Bantu populations, characterized by imbalances in customary fees (annual harvest, hunting or fishing yields) and barriers related to stereotypes and discrimination, have often been identified as consequences of limited access to basic social services and natural resources for the entire population of Tanganyika.

The social and political marginalization of indigenous peoples and the non-recognition of their rights have, in most cases, been the triggering factor for conflicts in the village of Kikanyanga, located approximately 15 km from the Nyunzu territory. The Congolese Women’s Fund, in its project titled ‘Women’s Participation in Conflict Prevention, Community Engagement, and Peacebuilding,’ has equipped fifty women from the city of Kalemie, the territory of Kabalo, and Nyunzu. This empowerment enables them to raise awareness in the community about peaceful coexistence and conflict management.

In the village of Kikanyanga, the situation was unbearable,” explains Taibu Mohamed, the village chief. “I remember it clearly. One day, a pregnant Bantu woman, whose pregnancy was not yet full term, was brutally attacked by Twa women near the river. They cut her open, removed the fetus, and made the poor woman drink her own blood… Imagine how much this act cost the life of an innocent being.

We witnessed severe scenes in this area: houses set on fire, women and children injured, collective interventions in fights, one family against another. I felt overwhelmed; no one would listen to me. Everyone was convinced I had a bias because I was Bantu.

My joy flooded back when the Association for Women’s Community Development came to identify Twa and Bantu women, bringing them together to equip them with conflict management and prevention skills and reminding them of their crucial role in building and consolidating peace.

After this training, the Twa and Bantu walked together to raise awareness. This unity was the first strategy to be heard.

The journey of 20 kilometers to raise awareness among militants from armed groups in the territories of Nyunzu and Kabalo was a challenging task. Women from the peace huts bravely overcame their fears to educate the Percy militants, who were more than 25 kilometers away from their village. They confessed that it was a very difficult exercise; initially, they were beaten instead of being listened to.

“Despite the rejection, we didn’t give up,” reassured Heshima, the president of the peace hut in Kikanyanga. “We were determined. It took us a long time for the Percy militants to receive us and listen to our message. We assured them that the Nyunzu territory relied on its sons for its development and that every citizen had an active role to play in restoring peace.

As if by magic, since April 2023, around a hundred young boys and men agreed to leave the armed groups and return home. It is important to note that this project is implemented by the Association of Women for Community Development (AFEMDECO) and funded by the Fund for Congolese women in partnership with Ifa Zivik.