The Pygmy Holocaust

What atrocities should be commemorated in the new Canadian Museum of Human Rights? Discussion continues.

Rhoda Howard-Hassmann (Wilfrid Laurier) gave her informed opinion in the Idea File of January 19: “if the Canadian Museum of Human Rights intends to have a permanent exhibition dedicated to genocide that occurred outside Canada, it should cover all the known major genocides, not only the genocide of the Jews.”

Should we include “pygmy holocaust,” Rhoda?

In the National Post of January 20, Geoffrey Clarfield, “anthropologist-at-large,” contends that militias battling for control of the Congo, have raped, enslaved, massacred, and eaten the pygmies when it suits their needs. The persecution is on-going.

The sketch that accompanies the story shows men and women who are clearly adults although not much taller than a well-grown North American pre-teen, being herded along by men resembling park rangers.

Clarfield continues: “As a teenager in Toronto’s Forest Hill Collegiate Institute, I well remember reading Joseph Conrad’s riveting novel about the Congo, Heart of Darkness, a fictitious memoir set in the less-than-fictitious 19th-century Belgian Congo of King Leopold. In it he wrote: ‘The conquest of the Earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much.’”

“It wasn’t pretty when the Belgians were doing the taking,” says Clarfield. “And it’s no prettier when it’s the Bantu. No matter how many times we say ‘never again,’ we never really seem to mean it.”

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