“The Rev. Jean-Maryce Mbemba-Moussosso, a Bantu and the parish priest in EnyellĂ©, didn’t mask his surprise when Bokodi entered his office with a Western reporter.

‘You’re a Pygmy?’ the Catholic priest asked Bokodi, staring at his clean button-down shirt and slacks.

‘I’m an indigenous person,’ Bokodi said quietly.

‘You mean a Pygmy?’

‘An indigenous person,’ he repeated.

‘You’re a Pygmy and you speak French?’

Bokodi’s jaw clenched, but his voice remained timid. ‘Yes.’

The priest’s eyes then dropped to Bokodi’s hand.

‘A Pygmy with a telephone?’

Finally, Bokodi exploded. ‘What do you mean by that question?’

The priest rolled his eyes and changed the subject.

No matter how hard he struggles, it seems, Bokodi will never be accepted as the Bantus’ equal. But that doesn’t stop him from trying.”

Katie Thomas