Description of Figure/Doll

Handcrafted wood carving of man from Cameroon. He has a large head with a flattened nose, large ears and spherical eyes. He has a rope of twine wrapped around neck, down his back and around his waist. The Republic of Cameroon is bordered by Nigeria, Chad. the Central African Republic. Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo. It is a blend of many cultures.

Cameroon

Location: Africa

Capital: Vaounde

Main language: African Languages, English, French

Currency: Communaute Financiere Africaine Franc

Figure/Doll

Construction: wood, twine

Height in Centimeters: 30

Height in Inches: 12

African Baka Pygmies: People Who Hunt and Gather in Forests

Reading Level: 5.40

Three months ago, I went to Cameroon (in Africa) with my father to take pictures. My dad is a famous photographer, and I was very excited that he took me along on this trip.

One day, we heard beautiful music when we were walking through the thick jungle. We soon came to an open area with many tiny huts that were made of leaves. The first thing I noticed was that everyone was very short —the tallest man was only five feet tall. They were very friendly. The women greeted us with songs, and we watched them dance as the men played the drums. The leader of the group spoke French and asked us what we wanted. Dad asked if we could stay a little while and take some pictures.

The leader, whose name was Kasha, let us stay in a hut with a grass floor mat and a small bamboo table. On top of the table stood a large gourd, which was filled with clear river water.

I fell asleep quickly, but I woke up when I heard women singing the word “yelli”. It was before dawn, and all the men and children were still in their huts. I later learned that this song was meant to draw the animals to the camp. They believed that the singing would make the animals weak and easy prey for the hunters’ poisoned spears.

The next day, I followed the men and watched them hunt animals like large deer and even monkeys. When the men and I returned from the hunt, they thanked the woman for their help.

For the next three weeks, we were a part of the Baka Pygmy group. We took many pictures. The Baka believe that the forest is their good parent and it looks after them. If something bad happens to them (such as bad hunting or an illness), they think that the forest is sleeping. Then they use song and music to wake up the forest and make it happy. If things have been going well, they will also sing, to share their happiness with each other and the forest.

I watched the children being taught to survive in Africa. They taught them how to track animals and find roots and yams in the forest. The adults also teach the children to collect honey. Honey is a prized food of the Bakas. I also tasted caterpillars, mushrooms, and ate beetle larvae while I stayed with them.

One of the main reasons my father wanted to photograph these people was because they are slowly losing the forests to the wood cutters and developers. Big companies are cutting down the trees and killing the forests the Baka love so much.

I was very sad when it was time for us to leave. We promised that we would try to tell others about their lives through the pictures we took.

As we followed the path that led away from the village, we heard the melodies of their voices and the beats of their drums. Those wonderful sounds still ring in my ears. I really hope that Dad’s photographs will be able to help these small people of nature.


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