The Story Of The Evicted Batwa Tribe in Uganda

Anna Bohlmark, a freelance journalist, wanted to do a documentary about the endangered mountain gorillas of Uganda, but during her research she discovered the story of the Batwas – the keepers of the forest. Since the ’90s, when the Batwa people were literally evicted from the Lake Region forests of western Uganda, the authorities have earned approximately $600.00 from each tourist taking safari tours of the region. Even today, thousands of Batwa are discriminated against and face devastating poverty as they search constantly for a living on their own.

Who is the Fog of the Bwindi?

Fog of Bwindi, a 25 minute short movie, was the first documentary Anna made, as part of a school assignment which she finished in 2015. The Bwindi forest used to be home to both gorillas and the Batwa pygmies.

The forest is now the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and UNESCO world heritage site. But the Batwa people received no compensation for being driven out of their de traditional homeland.

Today, they earn a daily subsistence by:


dancing for tourists,

or selling souvenirs and other trinkets.

Meet the Batwa community

As for her purpose in making the documentary, Anna points out that it is of essential importance to “raise the world’s awareness of the Batwa community. Because of economic interests are taking over, and we tend to forget the human rights of small peoples.”

The social inequality affecting the Batwa pygmies has inspired local NGOs to raise funds for them so that they can acquire their own lands, cultivate them, and establish a consistent source of livelihood.

Their government’s neglect and the lack of involvement of the international organisations present in Uganda have given rise to “changes coming from the grassroots which are of primordial importance”, and Anna has tried to bring them into the spotlight in her documentary.

Batwa in Uganda
Batwa in Uganda

Mountain gorilla, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, Uganda

The backstage of an early documentary career

It cost the film maker about € 3000 to make the Fog of Bwindi. Since 2015, when the documentary was finished, Anna has earned no money from it. On the contrary, the documentary is for Anna a sort of gift to the cause of indigenous peoples everywhere.

Only 25 minutes long, despite the fact that she recorded over 100 hours of film, the documentary reflects her understanding that « shorter is better » when sharing information and communicating feelings. The footprint of empathy is omnipresent throughout the movie.

Without explicitly pointing fingers at those who should be responsible for ensuring social rights and thus bringing about better living conditions for the Batwa pygmies. Anna simply wants to raise awareness.


Support is always the best way to keep going

In terms of promotion, personal contacts have come first. Through her network back in Italy, Anna succeeded in screening her documentary in India, where the movie was very well received as local communities are facing similar habitat issues as parks are established for elephants or native forests for tigers.

Thanks to the media coverage in India, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) got in contact with Anna and recently screened the documentary in Brussels.

The story of the Batwa community is a fine example of engaged journalism, making the voices of those who are unrepresented heard and highlighting the sad fact that “decisions must be taken by both the heart and brain, not only the brain”, argues Anna.

Batwa tribe in Uganda
Batwa tribe in Uganda

Bwindi Forest National Park, Uganda

Find Pelican media

Anna wishes to be able in the near future to screen her documentary on a TV channel. This explains why Fog of Bwindi is not yet available on YouTube. For the present, Anna is working on 3 other documentaries for which she has succeeded in raising financial support. She can be contacted through her single-person media production company, Pelican Media.

Background information: In the area known as the Great Lakes Region, there are about 80,000 Batwa living in Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, and the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The forced evictions in the ’90s were due to conservation projects to protect mountain gorillas. However, as a nomadic people, the Batwa had no right to compensation for losing their ancestral forest lands.

Over 6000 Batwa were evicted from what is now known as the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. The Batwa community is also still marginalised in Uganda, and their culture and language are under constant threat.

Photos: Shutterstock

Support us!

All your donations will be used to pay the magazine’s journalists and to support the ongoing costs of maintaining the site.


paypal smart payment button for simple membership

Share this post

Interested in co-operating with us?

We are open to co-operation from writers and businesses alike. You can reach us on our email at and we will get back to you as quick as we can.

Where to next?

Why Do We Read Less?

We often hear about various challenges, like reading 100 books within a year, or about spending less time on browsing the internet and more on reading instead. While this isn’t…

Born Into a Pre-Internet Generation

Some people know the distinguished feeling of not having the internet constantly present in their early years, just for it to become an absolute necessity a couple of years later.

Is Binge-Watching Harmful?

With so many streaming services available to everyone and offering all kinds of entertainment, binge-watching has become addictive for a lot of people.

Climate Change VS Young People

Climate change is perhaps the single biggest threat to humanity right now and for the foreseeable future. So, there’s no one better to fight it off than those who will…