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Pygmies of the East
Pygmies of west Africa

The Baka people, known in the Congo as Bayaka (Bebayaka, Bebayaga, Bibaya),[1] are an ethnic group inhabiting the southeastern rain forests of Cameroon, northern Republic of Congo, northern Gabon, and southwestern Central African Republic. They are sometimes called a subgroup of the Twa, but the two peoples are not closely related. Likewise, the name "Baka" is sometimes mistakenly applied to other peoples of the area who, like the Baka and Twa, have been historically called pygmies, a term that is no longer considered respectful.

  • Location
  • Countries
  • South Region
  • Central Africa, Cameroon, and Gabon

The Baka people are the principal hunter-gatherers of the tropical rainforest of Central West Africa. Groups establish temporary camps of huts constructed of bowed branches covered in large leaves (though today more and more homes are constructed following Bantu methods).

The Baka hunt and gather their own food. The men hunt and trap in the surrounding forest, using poisoned arrows and spears to great effect. The men also welcome the help of dogs when going on hunting excursions.

Fishing is very important in Baka culture as young boys are taught to use fishing rods at a young age. The men fish using chemicals obtained from crushed plant material. Using fast-moving river water, they disperse the chemical downstream. This non-toxic chemical deprives fish of oxygen, making them float to the surface and easily collected by Baka men. Another method of fishing, performed generally only by women, is dam fishing, in which water is removed from a dammed area and fish are taken from the exposed ground. Children and adolescent-girls often accompany the women when they go fish-bailing in nearby streams. More than only fishing with adults, their job is also to help the women by watching over the infants while they fish. Women cultivate plants, such as plantains, cassavas and bananas, and practice beekeeping. The group remains in one area until it is hunted out. It then abandons the camp and settles down in a different portion of the forest. The group is communal and makes decisions by consensus.

During the dry season, it is common for the Baka to move and set camp within the forest in order to facilitate fishing and overall nutritional gathering.[11] The Baka are the most active during these dry seasons. Men hunt from dawn until dusk and the women gather two types of fruits: the “mabe” and the “peke”, which are used for the provision of juice and nuts. The Baka people continue to monitor bee activity in order to obtain honey hunting and fishing.