‘Mozugwe’ means hello in Baka and is one of the many things I learnt over the last three weeks, which have been so rich in experience that it feels more as if three months had passed. I visited the two regions in Gabon where the Baka live, around the towns of Minvoul in the North close to the border with Cameroon, and Makokou, in the North-East close to the border with Congo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minvoul and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Makokou).
The aim of the trip was to introduce myself to the different communities, to find out whether they want to work with me and what the practicalities of living with modern hunter-gatherers are. I spent a few days in five different villages in total and the photos below show some of what happened whilst I was there. The Baka are indeed still living a highly mobile or nomadic lifestyle, as half the village was always away ‘en brousse’ (in the forest) when I arrived, but they are also partly sedentary with all the involved health issues, such as alcoholism. I was unlucky in that it always rained (it is officially rainy season), and so I didnt get to see any of their famed singing and dancing, but am looking forward to seeing it during my next trip to the field. I am now back in Libreville, digesting all the information and experiences, and planning the next steps.
Will be posting more over the next week, now that I have better internet access here in Libreville. In rural Gabon it’s difficult, as the connection is very slow and unstable . . .