Turning Pygmy hasn’t turned out to be a very good long-run strategy. All such populations have big problems. First, they’re vastly outnumbered by peoples that adopted agriculture. Second, they’re short – shorter than their farmer neighbors – and generally that has been a disadvantage in disputes. Contemporary African pygmies are ‘ hereditary servants’ of their Bantu neighbors: we have another word for that. Maybe AK-47s will turn that around some day (God made some men big and some men small, but Mikhail Kalashnikov made them all equal, like a good Communist), but it hasn’t happened yet. And with their small numbers, I’m not optimistic.
Moreover, it seems that they may have incurred an intellectual disadvantage as well. They have small brains, probably the smallest of any existing human population. I found a reference claiming an average endocranial volume of 1,085 cm3 for the Aka: that’s the lowest number ever reported. Their reported IQ scores are very, very low. Their neighbors, who don’t score high themselves, think that the Pygmies have rocks in their head, don’t plan ahead, are irresponsible, etc And of course they have trouble with alcohol.
A recent paper by Andrea Migliano argued that high risk, mainly from infectious disease, has selected for an accelerated life-history among Pygmies. I’m not convinced, but if she’s right, they would age more rapidly as well. I’m not sure that is actually the case.
All this should have been obvious when modern humans were wandering into the African rainforest tens of thousands of years ago. What were they thinking?