There are 75,000 Baka pygmies in Cameroon. Traditionally nomadic, the tribe is being forced from its forest home by the logging industry. The Baka have been resettled and they face discrimination and social problems, lack of education, teenage pregnancy and alcoholism. They are struggling to fit into the modern world.
Wood from the central African rainforest is in demand around the world. The forest loses 2000 square km every year to logging. As the logged forest bleeds out of the port of Douala by the truckload, the Baka do not know how to fight back. The children’s rights NGO Plan International is helping the Baka get into school, gain legal rights through birth registration and develop agricultural skills.
Marc Schlossman traveled to Cameroon with journalist Jane Labous. They gathered stills and video in Baka communities in the forest of south east Cameroon, bordering Central African Republic and DRC, and spoke with representatives of the Belgian forestry operation in the region, the government delegate for social affairs in Bertoua and even Seventh Day Adventist missionaries in one Baka community. Without education, it is hard to see how the Baka will combine preserving their identity and traditions in the dwindling forests with the steps necessary to make their way in a changing world.
Commissioned by Plan International.