2000 Show With Girl Who Can Talk To Animals The Baka Pygmies of Cameroon

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The Baka Pygmies of Cameroon

A tribe of hunters and gatherers, the Kurekere Baka, found in Cameroon, live together with various tribes of Bantu farmers, who also exchange goods.

With a height of 1.5 meters, the Baka are, strictly speaking, pygmoids rather than pygmies. However, in everyday use, the word “pygmy” is used.

Exact numbers are difficult to determine, as a nomadic group, they roam the forest living temporarily in specific areas that offer rich game and minerals, but estimates range from 5,000 to 28,000 each.

They accept the forest ecosystem and they use the gifts of nature or the ecosystem. Over the years important exchange relationships have developed between the Baka hunter-gatherers and the neighboring Bantu farmers. However, this relationship has been one of tolerance and characterized by hostility. The situation has been caused by the demeaning and derogatory comments that the Bantu describe to their Minority neighbors, viewing the Baka as their burden, victims of racism and being used in the farms as cheap labor. .

One of the most important differences between the Baka pygmies and their Bantu counterparts is the fact that they owe their entire existence to the natural resources that nature has provided for their habitat, the rainforest.

Like other pygmies the Baka differ culturally, linguistically and physically from their Bantu neighbors.

They live in a hut called mongulu which is a natural house made of branches and leaves, and women build them. After a very flexible frame, thin branches are prepared, recently collected leaves are fitted in the structure. After the work is completed, other vegetable materials are sometimes added to the dome to make the structure more compact and waterproof. Besides mongulus, Baka also make square houses made of leaves or oil, as other tribes do, they only use clay and wood.

The Baka, know many forest foods, animals and specific times when these products can be easily obtained. Of the different seasons that these pygmy people experience each year, the three-month period of long heavy rains is the most important. During this period when the forest is available many Baka leave their permanent villages for the deep forest and spend many months wandering to gather food. The men did the more prestigious but undoubtedly more dangerous job of providing meat for the group by hunting and trapping. The women carry their belongings in baskets and follow their husbands.

Types of hunting done in the rainforest include bows, arrows, crossbows, spears and traps. Contrary to what occurs in other pygmy cultures, the Baka do not know the use of hunting tools. The forest animals that are killed are different types of primates, artiodactyls, rodents, etc., that hunt at night. They used to bring a boat to the beach to hunt crocodiles, which were often killed by spears.

Finding food in the forests is one of the most important activities for the group’s survival, collecting yams, fruit, mushrooms, but at certain times of the year it is possible for them to find small animals, such as frogs and caterpillars.

Carried in baskets by the women, the products came to the camp and were shared by all the families.

Hunting is one of the most important activities, not only for providing food but also for the symbolic meanings and cultural prestige attached to it. Skilled hunters are highly respected and taken into great consideration, especially if they specialize in the most rewarding and important game: Big Elephant Hunting.

Massive deforestation these days is depriving the pygmies of the natural resources that are essential for the survival of their species and culture. Unfortunately, due to the decreasing amount of prey and less frequent trips in the forest, today, hunting does not provide the Baka with an adequate supply of animal proteins which cause serious nutritional problems especially in children.

With insufficient food and health problems, many live a quiet life that preserves a strong cultural identity and has marked the boundaries between their own culture and that of other tribal groups in the forest.

Of all the parts of nature that surround the Baka pygmies, they consider the tropical forest as the most valuable resource they have.

A typical pygmy won’t leave his home in the forest even in exchange for an ultra modern palace in the city.

They have knowledge and understanding of the forest and its products, including the healing power of the plants and are in fact, the guardians of a great natural pharmacy. Now their whole life is taken with the help of their forests.

“We were born and raised in the forest; we do everything in the forest, gathering, hunting and fishing. Now where do they want us to make our lives?”

Mbeh: Like a guitarist

Baka Beyond / Baka Gbene

Music has a central role in the life of the Baka. From childhood they have a sense of noise, once a child can clap, they are encouraged to participate in all social music activities. There is music for cultural purposes, music for living on knowledge, stories and legends of the Baka people, and music for pure enjoyment. This collaborative singing often helps to strengthen the bonds between the individuals in the groups.

Baka music is best described as bursts of yodeling harmony, interacting in a dynamic, rhythmic fashion. It is very hypnotizing and the forest setting makes the overall effect fascinating.

Inspired by the magical rhythms and melodies of the Baka people, British musicians Martin Cradick and Su Hart founded Baka Beyond in 1993 after they visited the parts.

They recorded an album “Spirit of the Forest” under the name Baka Beyond which pushed them to international recognition. The group has since evolved into a multi-talented, live stage show with album sales of over a quarter of a million copies.

They have played at WOMAD in the UK, USA and the Czech Republic and on the Jazz Stage at Glastonbury; Musica Mondial in Sao Paulo, Brazil and many more festivals in the UK, USA, France, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal as well as headlining the Vancouver Folk-Roots festival. Their songs are often heard on TV soundtracks, especially in nature programs on the BBC and have been nominated for BBC Radio 3’s World Music listeners’ awards.

Su Hart said, “I was first fascinated by the wonderful bird-like song, the women would gather before dawn to sing, to attract the animals in the forest and ensure that the men’s hunt would be successful. Song and dance were used . by the Baka for healing, for rituals, for bringing communities together and also for purity!”

With ongoing help from Martin and Su, they were then invited to play at local festivals, weddings and funerals in Cameroon. After recording their album “Gati Bongo” in 2000, they decided on the name “Baka GBine” (Gbine means ‘help’).

The group includes guitarists Pelembir, Mbeh and Zow, singer Masekou, two women – Ybunga and Lekeweh, who bring amazing music to concerts, and traditional music.

Giving it back to the Baka

Baka GBine is one of the few bands that make sure they put as much back into the culture as they take out. The royalties received from the sale of the albums are then returned to Baka Pygmies through the UK-based Global Music Charity Change – or as Baka calls it, ‘One Heart’.

The ongoing relationship with the Baka community has helped them gain land rights and recognition as Cameroonians, as well as funding their own medical center and a Music Hall. These steps help protect the Baka culture, forest environment and unique hunter-gatherer way of life.

Roger Harrabin news-

The biggest threat comes from a road into the forest that has been promoted by the Cameroon government with money from the European Union.

The World Bank and the African Development Bank refused to finance the upgrade.

They say it will increase logging and hunting of endangered species. But the EU released the money without doing any environmental assessment.

Steve Gartland, the World Wildlife Fund’s man in Cameroon, says the inevitable is happening now.

“Road construction projects tend to bring development to forest areas. Once you get open forest areas you allow hunters to come in, causing wildlife loss and deforestation,” he said. .

Sixty percent of Cameroon’s forests are already being exploited.

Some companies damage the forest by giving in their way round rules that allow only the selected mature trees to be cut. Others appeared to play by paper – cutting only the occasional large tree.

Forester Jean Francois Pagot admits that the most valuable species are in decline because they are no longer planted.

He said:

“The main reason is the long life of the trees. Some take two or three years to fully grow – and there is no tree license that long – so the diversity of the forest is destroyed.”

The Baka are finding it very difficult to get other kinds of meat since the poachers started using the EU system to sell their fish from the forest reserve.

A Baka said: “They kill elephants, gorillas, chimps, panthers, buffaloes, deer – all in reserve”.

European Union (EU) taxpayers are funding the conservation of wildlife in this reserve as well as paying for the road which makes life easier for the poachers.

The EU is now funding a number of coercive education projects. But hunting wild animals is too rewarding for some to resist. Critics say it’s a typical problem caused by the EU’s aid system. They say that aid from Brussels is often poorly managed and damaging to people at the sharp end – like Baka.

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