Assok, a village situated at 8 kilometres from Mintom towards Congo, welcomed, from March 5th to 12th 2017, the third edition of the cultural festival called BakaDreamDays organised by APIFED within the framework of the Tourism Promotion programme and the REDD+ in the Cameroon Forestry Councils (PTREDD+CFC). The main objective of this celebration whose general theme was: “Culture, tourism and sustainable management of forests: the feminine affairs” aimed at highlighting the rich culture of the Baka Pygmy people threatened by modernity.
The official ceremony of the Festival took place on March 9th in presence of the Dja and Lobo Divisional Officer, representatives of the following Ministries: MINTOUL, MINEPAT, MINAC, MINFOF, MINPROFF, the Mayor of Mintom, the National Commission of Human Rights and several authorities. Apart from the many Baka pygmies from the East and the South Regions, a delegation of thirty and about Bakola/Bagielli Pygmies whom three attended a thesis defence organised by CERDOTOLA at Grand Zambi; they were from Lolodorf, Bipindi councils in the South Region, and from Messondo in the Centre Region. Since August 2016, CERDOTOLA had been chosen by organisers as the ideal partner for this important ceremony.
During this opening ceremony, many speeches have been heard from authorities, who described, each what is being done at their level to work in the promotion of the Pygmy people protecting their culture As a response to all those speeches, Jean Paul Ondoa, spokesman of the Baka from the Nkang hamlet via Djoum, listed many problems faced by their communities. He requested the aid of any structure able to help them live the disappearing life of their fathers.
The stand of CERDOTOLA was very appreciated because of a photo Exposition showing the life of Pygmies a century ago. It was the deemed occasion to present the pan-african Institution.
Dr. Nke Ndih, who represented the Institution at this ceremony spoke on: “The Baka woman facing climate changes”; “the role of forest in the Baka traditional society” and “ the future of the Baka woman”. He also moderated a communication from an ONG FODER ( Forests and Rural Development) entitled: “keeping the traditional role of the forest for Natives in a context of forest exploitation.”
The BakaDreamDays was the occasion for Pygmies to compete in songs and dances and also in their different games. The Ngek (pumpkin game) and the Climbing, games among the activities in the culture of Pygmies, brought together many teams. Competitions were supervised by a PE teacher at Mintom Government High School, Mr. N’ZANG ZE Patrice who, moreover, brought the Ngek as a subject in the same way as the classic sports found in all Secondary Schools in Cameroon.
Four teams competed in the Ngek game: the Bagielli from Messondo, the Bagielli from Bipindi/Lolodorf, the Baka and the National School of…. The team from Messondo won the competition.
The Climbing had just one team, the Baka because the Bagielli declared that they don’t climb out of their territory. During the Ngek competition, they had also declined the javelins prepared for them by the organisers saying that in their area, each thrower chooses and fine-tunes his projectile.
During the talks that followed the games, the PE teacher of the Mintom Government High School brought in the hypothesis of a substitute of a Ngek fruit used during this game, since it is seasonal and teach this sport each season is attempting the impossible.
This festival was a great success, they liven up the site in the forest sometimes till 2 A.M During the whole week, the small town of Mintom became a kind of capital for the Pygmies people of Cameroon who have shown by the liveliness that their culture remains an attraction for their Bantu neighbours.
Source : Mission Report of Dr. Jean Nke Ndih, March 2017.
The APIFED NGO is a support organisation to development working in the Djoum rural council en in the urban zone with idled women and young people. The organisation works in villages and handles the followings domains:
Support to the production and marketing of tubers, starches and the PFNL
Coaching of women and young people in the production and marketing of market gardening ;
Spreading of noticeboards on protected species
In the urban area, APIFED intervenes in self-promotion of job for young idles The programme of activities of the structure foresees for the whole year:
The improvement of seeds’ production (cassava, maize, banana, plantain) ;
The organisational strengthening through the setting up of an address book of production organisations in Upper Djoum ;
Supervision of CIG (Common Interest Group) ;
The training of young girl in computing and hairdressing.