Baka Pygmy hunters preparing for a hunt with a ritual ceremony, Cameroon, West Africa: These Baka people along with other African pygmies and the Khoisans are world oldest inhabitants. The Baka, known in the Congo as Bayaka (Bebayaka, Bebayaga, Bibaya), are sedentary ethnic group inhabiting the southeastern rainforests of Cameroon, northern Republic of Congo, northern Gabon, and southwestern Central African Republic. They have been historically called pygmies (the term is no longer considered respectful). The Baka is the only group culturally adapted to the Southeast forest of Cameroon. They are rightly referred to as the "people of the forest". Only 50 years ago, this territory was mainly virgin forest with countless elephants, god as and other endangered species.
Few others, beside these pygmies, knew and traveled the deep forest. The Baka are so much at home in the forest that they were not long ago considered mere animals by many Bantu groups. They were (and still are) thought to transform themselves into various animals that could kill others. The Baka have medicine and special ceremonies to obtain this power to transform themselves
Baka people believe that Komba is the God who created the "people of the forest" and everything else. The Baka know little about Komba, but they believe that he is good because he gave them the forest. He not only cares for the Baka, but also for ail the animals of the forest. Jengi, also called Djengi or Ejengi, the chief spirit of the forest, is more involved in the daily Life of the Baka as he brings blessing, healing, protection and helps find animals.
In the Iücàn) (chantfables), Komba is described as an old man, full of wisdom, yet a great hunter. He lived a long time ago with men, but became annoyed by the noise they made, their dances, and their constant insults. It is then that he decided to change some of them into animals. These were the first animals created. After that he left for the sky and no man or beast has ever seen him since. However, he still loves the people and provides for them. The forest is living and in a sense it is an extension of Komba . One Baka said that the forest is like a father and a mother who carefully look &er their children. When the hunt is bad or someone is sick, it may be because the forest is sleeping. Singing and dancing help to wake it up and make it look favorably on the people.
The likàn) tell us that in the beginning of time, man lived with Komba and bis family . Life was easy then, as Komba shared ail his possessions with the people. These stories also tell us that even today Komba is very interested in all details of their lives, including their success in hunting and their health. Dodd notes that, "Kumba is providential and lives 'somewhere in the sky; he will 'keep a Baka well' who follows the basic social rules but he is not directly punitive nor does he offer or promise Me after death. There is no formal worship of Kumba nor are there any ceremonies of praise. "
BY: Kweku Darko Ankrah