I was pleased to see that you included a translation from the |xam in your April 2009 issue (“The Broken String” by Diakwain, translated by Harold Farmer). Because of the genocide that has affected East Africa, many Westerners are familiar with the Hutus and the Tutsis, but fewer have heard of the Batwa. My people were the region’s original inhabitants, much like the San of South Africa. In America we are still commonly referred to as “pygmies,” a term we reject as derogatory. Like your Native Americans, our lands were taken by force, by African colonizers who were later colonized themselves.
Today we are still landless, forced to move from place to place at the whim of our government. We face great discrimination at all levels of social interaction, especially within the Burundian educational system. The publication of such an excellent |xam poem represents a great victory to us, as it allows others to appreciate the value of our culture. Thank you.