Pygmies forced to deal with cannabis in Congo


The only solution they have left to survive is to sell marijuana

The pygmies of the Congo know the last plant of the forest and their corresponding alimentary and medicinal properties. For thousands of years they have cultivated and consumed powerful varieties of cannabis sativa. However, they cultivated the herb for their personal use and never to traffic with it.

An absurd sense of modernity has made the non-pygmy inhabitants of the Congo feel ashamed of their roots and want to imitate the Western way of life. They see the pygmies as backward people and are ashamed of them. They have been persecuted, hunted, murdered and enslaved for decades. Little by little, the timber industry and landowners have taken over their jungle, forcing them to survive with difficulty.

Pygmies forced to deal with cannabis in Congo

They had large cultures in the jungle. But now the Congolese army soldiers come and confiscate them. In order to survive, they have to cultivate much less and hide their crops in increasingly remote areas of the jungle. Cannabis is illegal in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

After a tremendous period of colonial system, too many years of dictatorship and a civil war that lasted 20 years, leaving 6 million dead behind, few citizens are willing to respect the law. Congo is one of the poorest countries in the world. It has a population of 600000 pygmies, who represent the lowest economic spectrum of the economy.

Pygmies are being marginalized and sometimes kept as slaves. Pygmies have to survive with $1 per day. But the average income among non-pygmies people is about $2 per day. For pygmies, selling cannabis can be the only way to get some incomes. Unfortunately, the police and the military beat them savagely and arrest them for growing marijuana.

Every now and then, a little team of Pygmies rises very early and treks for three or four hours into the deep jungle of Africa’s national park, Virunga. After 1952, the area was considered national park, and hunting and gathering the plants Pygmies need to eat was banned.

The simple act of entering the national park is a crime. If the police, the military or the poachers discover them, first they shoot them and then they ask. Killing a Pygmy in Congo is not a big problem.

The Pygmies can identify every single plant in the jungle. They say their ancestors grew cannabis long before them. They use the plant for medical and recreational purposes and the seeds as food. They keep saying that nobody will break their traditions. About 20 million Pygmies have been displaced to save the conservation of the park. In theory, the money obtained with the tourism that visits the gorillas, is destined to favor the economy of the country. But in reality, the corrupt political class of the Congo causes a few to get rich while the poor are expropriated from their lands and the access to the forest cut off. The whole area is being threatened by several groups, the oil companies and the poachers. Pygmies have relied on its ecosystem for centuries and now they see how it is disappearing.

There’s little or none work for the Pygmies outside the jungle. Many finally have turned to marijuana. Depending on the quantity a family grows, they can get between $8 and $100 per week.

When a Pygmy gets sick, he goes to the traditional healer to be cured with cannabis. They ground the seeds with boiled water to cure stomachaches. They make a tea with the leaves to cure cough, parasites and fever. Already in 2005, researchers discovered that the use of cannabis among Pygmies had decreased their body’s parasites.

Pygmies say that if the rangers have been bribed, they will not give problems. But if they haven’t, they confiscate the weed and fine the villagers. If the Pygmy is caught and has no money, the police will beat him until they get tired. It is like David against Goliath.

Pygmies cultivate some very powerful sativa genetics that, in addition, are acclimated to the humidity of the area. Moreover, they dry and cure the weed for months, which improves its quality.

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