The Pygmy mimic is an extremely persistent colonial trope that continues to inform contemporary anthropological understandings of Africa’s Pygmy populations. Mimicry is now understood as being a key component of the social reproduction of a distinct Pygmy way of being. In this paper, the author examines the historical accounts of mimicry and tries to bring a historical perspective to bear on contemporary ethnographic accounts of its practice.

The paper sets the author’s research among the Sua Pygmies of Uganda against these other examples. The intention behind this is to acknowledge the common humanity of Africa’s Pygmies and to create new grounds of comparison – such as a shared history of oppression – that are not dependent on a unique foraging mode of thought.