Monday, April 9, 2012

If it is Easter it must be pygmies

Sunday April 8  Easter Kribi,  Cameroon If it is Easter it must be pygmies!  I have to say that they were the biggest pygmies that I have ever seen.  It is very un-PC to call them pygmies;  these were the bagami people.  We were paddled up the Limbe River by local folk who emigrated here from Congo.  The immigrants live in the town, and the bagami live in the forest.   The pirogues that we were in, were dug out canoes of differing sizes, carrying from 6-12 people.  Once loaded, there was almost no freeboard, and they were quite  leaky. On the river it was bright and sunny, with the sound of birds all around.  Something dropped from a tree, there was a flash o f white and black, and the colobus monkey was gone.  It didn't help that the man seated next to me yelled, "There's a monkey!". No doubt frightening the poor thing half to death.  A quick flash of orange, and a small unknown bird had grabbed a tiny fish.  Overhead were kites  (a type of raptor), chasing pied crows.   After about 45 minutes we struggled out of the pirogues, up a bank, and followed a well worn path into the forest arriving at a clearing  where there were several small huts. Made out of palm fronds and sticks.  Only later did e find out that they don't actually live here, but come here to dance for tourists and have their picture taken.  They spoke no French or English, and the guide did a very minimal amount of interpreting.   We were introduced to the village headman, and his designated successor.  They danced, allowed us to take photos, but we're not the least bit interested in interacting with us.  It turns out that these people have gotten a raw deal.  The government wants to kick them off of their land, and make it a National Park.  They want them to live in permanent villages and have their children go to school.  These are folk who are subsistence hunters, and have no desire to change their way of life.  The money that they got from us will be used for a few small items that they don't make for themselves.  They were dressed in 2nd hand shabby western clothing.  A people caught between 2 worlds.

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