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Africa: The Baka Pygmies of Cameroon

Black & Ethnic News

Africa: The Baka Pygmies of Cameroon

This ethnic group resides in the Dja Faunal reserve in southeast Cameroon. They are an example of how man can stay in harmony with nature. They are also found in Congo, Gabon and Zaire. This hunter-gatherer group have evolved to be able to live in the tropical rainforest environment.

Though the rainforest is rich with diverse types of fauna and flora, it is also the most difficult to live in. This is an apt example of survival of the fittest. For over 40,000 years this African group have thrived and survived in the harsh conditions of the forest, making it one of the rich cultures that are being preserved despite western influence.

Theirs is a vast treasure of knowledge. They depend on the forest for medicine, food and water. The young are taught hunting and trapping of small animals. They know the plants can be used for medicinal purposes as well as provide materials for building shelters.

Especially during the rainy season, they find it easier to catch animals due to better tracking. Also, marriage is mainly done in the rainy season, because the men are judged according to how much food they can catch for the bride’s parents.

They have also adapted themselves during the dry season when the water levels reduce. Many of the women go for dam fishing. It is easier for them to set traps in the shallow waters which results in faster catching of the aquatic animals.

However, now due to modernisation, this group is being forced to live outside the forest which has now limited their territory. Add to that, the young generation now want to go beyond what their culture offers them. Though the elders are willing to adapt to the modern age, their culture has a vast knowledge which is something that can’t be taught in the classroom and which, they insist on passing on to the next generation.

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Garima is from India and lives in Nigeria. She studied Biomedical Science from London and has been teaching science. She loves crocheting, cooking and teaching.

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