Thursday, 20 March 2014

Once upon a pygmy

The pygmy. I am certain that for most people when they hear this word they start expecting to see very short human being; Lilliputians of sorts .

But the pygmies are not just short persos but are a tribe , one which i discovered had a rich culture and in Cameroon there exists several pygmy tribes. But the most famous are the Baka pygmies.

Famous for their deep knowledge of the forest and their care for it a fame however that is more of bittersweet for them as its has also earned them a bad public image, that of second class or even third class citizens in Cameroon. 

I was touched by what these talented people have had to endure all in the name of forest governance and management. Caught between the desire by the international community to protect the forest and the governments desire to blindly please which has led to bad forest laws and policies; the Baka pygmies, I learnt, have had to lose their essence, their home , the cradle of their culture, the forest.

It was touching seeing how hey have now become shadows of themselves in the documentary entitled "A cry from the rain forest" , produced by famous BBC journalist Phil Agland. But despite this lose they still hold on the memory of who they are; custodians of the forest. The documentary projection hosted by the British High Commissioner to Cameroon last Friday 14 March and the Baka music performance that followed it put together by the UK charity Global Music Exchange, left all present with a pain in their chests, a pain for the Baka pygmies.

No doubt they say "I am the forest" when explaining who they are . They may have lost that now but for me whenever i hear Baka pygmies I think of the forest.

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