HISTORY OF AIMPO
The African Initiative for Mankind Progress Organization, formerly known as African Indigenous Minorities Peoples’ Organization , was created in 2001 by the people from indigenous communities known as BATWA.
AIMPO is a community - centered, grassroots organization in Rwanda that seeks to protect and promote the rights, welfare and development of the Indigenous Batwa.
Who are the Batwa ?
The Batwa (Twa) are believed to be the original inhabitants of the Great Lakes of Central Africa. The equatorial forests were their homelands, providing them with sustenance, medicine and sacred sites and rituals. Over the course of several decades, the Twa were gradually evicted from their traditional lands owing to deforestation, conflict leading to violence, and conservation in the name of development. The remaining forest dwelling Twa Volcanos National Park, Gushwati Forest, and Nyungwe National Park were expelled from their
lands as recently as 1994 without consultation, compensation or adequate remuneration.
These communities were integrated into Rwandan society at the lowest level, forced to adapt a sedentary way of life with inadequate state support. Today, with an estimated population of 25,000 to 30,000 people, the Twa face unique challenges and uncer tainties related to socio - economic deprivation, high unemployment and underemployment, social discrimination, and acute political marginalization.
The institutional invisibility of the Twa is also mirrored in the priorities of Wester n researchers, donors and aid agencies, and human rights activists. Because of the difficulties associated with conducting aid work in Rwanda today, many organizations have refused to tackle ‘sensitive’ issues, or left the country all together.