!Photo Gallery (Video Available!)
The following are introductions of photos. Click the title or photo, then you can jump to the relevant page.
This page has videos of songs and dances by the Baka Pygmies.
This page has videos of the Baka Pygmies’ daily conversation and interactions.
!Landscapes of the Forests and Savannah
The forests in twilight. Sunset viewed from the Dja River which runs over the borders between Congo and Cameroon. (Photo: Hattori)
Travelling on by outboard (this is a short video taken using a digital camera).
My (Inai’s) research area includes a crescent-shaped lake but it was impossible to fish on, as the lake was covered by waterweed. (Photo: Inai)
A reddish brown road runs through the forests. It is extremely bumpy like a washboard during the dry season but is covered in a squidgy mud during the rainy season. (Photo: Hattori)
The rain forests viewed from a height near the research site, Malea Ancien village. A carpet of green stretches into the distance. (Photo: Hattori)
The savannah in Lobeke National Park. When walking in the forests, suddenly my vision becomes brighter. Large animals such as elephants and buffaloes often appear. (Photo: Hattori)
A landscape in the area near North Rimsky. (Photo: Kitanishi)
It is very spacious: Differing from the forests, the blue sky and the earth spread over the savannah. (Photo: Yasuda)
A storm: Many storms approach in the rainy season. (Photo: Yasuda)
Near my (Yasuda’s) research village, you can feel the breath of many animals including lions, elephants and antelopes. Hippos also gather in the river. (Photo: Yasuda)
A full moon: After night comes, another dawn approaches. (Photo: Yasuda)
A sunset on the savannah: One day is ending. (Photo: Yasuda)
The waterfall of Ngi’i, which suddenly appeared in the forests. This waterfall can be found roughly 50km away as the crow flies from Ndongo village along the Dja River. It has an eerie atmosphere with echoing sounds of “gwoan gwoan” heard even in the dry season when there is a small amount of water. This is also a place where the fish are stopped and thus the upper stream can be a goldmine of fish. This waterfall itself is “awed” by the villagers. (Photo: Oishi)
On the top of the rocky mountain standing around a mixed area of forests and savannah, Kako women are drying cassavas. This rocky mountain is called Ngula in their language. (Photo: Oishi)
!Animals in the Forests
Mr. Menyata Gaspar, blindfolding his eyes by a bat caught by a bowgun. (Photo: Oishi)
A Baka Pygmy boy is keeping a genette (Genetta servalina) on his head, which his father caught and brought to him. Genettes are called “mboka” in the Baka Pygmy’s language. (Photo: Hattori)
A Manis tricuspis, which is called “kokolo” in the Baka Pygmy’s language. It is a strange animal whose body is covered by cuirass. It is tasty. (Photo: Hayashi)
A baby mangabey (Lophcocebus albigena), which is called “ngada” in the Baka Pygmy’s language. (Photo: Hattori)
A civet (Civettictis civetta), which is called “liabo” in the Baka Pygmy’s language. Men eat it but women do not. (Photo: Hattori)
A water chevrotain (Hyrmoschus aquatics), which is called “ngeke” in the Baka Pygmy’s language. They sometimes hide underwater for several minutes if chased by a predator. (Photo: Hattori)
A Cephalophus callipygus, which is called “ngendi” by the Baka Pygmies and Celphalophus monticola, called “ndengwe.” (Photo: Hattori)
Boschvarks (Potamochoerus porcus), which are called “pame”in the Baka Pygmy’s language. Their appearance is beautiful and they are also popular among the Baka Pygmies in terms of their taste. In Japan, they can be seen at Zoorasia Yokohama Zoological Gardens. (Photo: Hayashi)
A baby hornbill (Tropicranus albocristatus cassini), which is called “bedi” in the Baka Pygmy’s language. (Photo: Hattori)
A bird (Nigrita bicolor), which is called “bomboko” in the Baka Pygmy’s language. (Photo: Hattori)
Life in the forests seems to have created a clever hound. The dog called “Kaiman” shown on the left grew strong after Mr. Yasuoka adopted it. (Photo: Hayashi)
There was also a good-tempered cat in the village. When I was suffering from mice, a friend, a Baka Pygmy, brought this cat to me from somewhere. (Photo: Hayashi)
A cow which was taken over by Fulbe people to Moloundou from a place hundreds of kilometers away in order to sell its meat. (Photo: Inai)
A chameleon living in the forests, called “gE:gEl” in Bakewele. A kid caught it and brought it back, keeping it in a basket proudly, to show me but he seemed to be afraid of touching the chameleon. In this photo, the chameleon looks deep green as the inside of the basket was dark but when brought into the sun, it turned a yellowy color very quickly. It seemed the chameleon had not forgotten how to act when he was exposed to the sunshine. Chameleons are not used for food but they are the perfect animals for children to play with. (Photo: Oishi)
A Baka Pygmy’s boy, Gedja, showed me a “samba” which he had captured alive. (Photo: Oishi)
Mr. Simon and Great Blue Turaco. (Photo: Oishi)
This shows the moment when my friend Dede, a Baka Pigmy, had just caught a “kanga” (Crested guinea fowl) by a snare trap. These types of terrestrial birds are occasionally trapped. They do not have much meat on them but the meat is nicely stringy and its juice is rich, thus very tasty when cooked into a soup. (Photo: Oishi)
A Bush-tailed Porcupine, which is often caught by a snare trap. This is called “guoub” in Bakwele, “boke” in Baka, and “ngomba” in Lingala. Its spines are commonly used for doing women’s hair. (Photo: Oishi)
This is a de Brazza's monkey, which has been caught. When gunning, this monkey was taken alive in Bamileke village, located in Obala, outlying Yaoundé. (Photo: Oishi)
A tsetse fly. They live along the rivers. When the sun rises and the forests get warm, they appear. They are well known for causing sleeping sickness in humans and it is painful if they bite you. Taken in a village, Ntam, located on the borders between the Congo Republic and Cameroon in 2009. (Photo: Oishi)
Bailing fishing is women’s work. Everyone bails the water with the same rhythm. (Photo: Inai)
The fishermen make their own fishing gear and then fish with them. (Photo: Inai)
In the fishing camp, they go fishing with their family members. (Photo: Inai)
The livelihood of the Fulbe is to herd cattle and take care of them. (Photo: Inai)
These are cassava gathered in the fields of tropical rain forests. (Photo: Komatsu)
After putting the gathered cassava in the stored water for several days to get rid of the poison, the cassavas are broken down and dried in the sun. (Photo: Komatsu)
A Baka man, who is eradicating weeds. (Photo: Kitanishi)
Attempting to put the cassava, which is their staple food, into a bag to squeeze the water out. (Photo: Kitanishi)
A Baka men, who helped to research on cultivation. (Photo: Kitanishi)
The owner of a cacao cultivation which has beautifully eradicated its weeds and the Baka man who owns it. (Photo: Kitanishi)
In the mid-afternoon when no one was around, cacao beans were placed in the sun in front of a house of the Baka Pygmies, mongul. The amount of cacaos is not much but these were gathered in a plantation that the Baka Pygmies own. (Photo: Oishi)
The cotton gathered from a cultivation in the savannah. (Photo: Yasuda)
Many of the villagers in Taboun are Christians. Everyone dances during Christmas. (Photo: Yasuda)
When it becomes the long dry season, the Baka Pygmies move to camps in the forests and concentrate on hunter-gathering and fishery. (Photo: Hattori)
This Baka Pygmy woman is cracking the fruit of “kombele” which was gathered in the forests and picking up the seeds from it. After being smoked, the seeds are ground up and used for seasoning supplementary foods. (Photo: Hattori)
This is “Bama,” a Baka Pygmy, whom the late Dr. Junichiro Itani called a “stunning beauty.” She is a charming woman who is also a bit cynical but has a frank personality. (Photo: Hayahshi)
Dongo village where the field station is located is found near the borders between the Cameroon Republic and Congo Republic. A former head of the village, Mr. Comanda (the Bakwele) has been keeping up his routine, putting the national flag up every morning, still after his retirement. Even in this village which is located in the outskirts of the Eastern Province and often regarded as a “remote and backward” area, the concept of a nation is widespread. (Photo: Hayahshi)
The Children in the Forests
My friends /2004/in Mindoulou/ “We all went water gathering!!”
They help out their mums, look after brothers, and also love getting into mischief!? All of them are my (Shikata’s) precious friends.
I love honey! /2005/ in Molongo/The thing which the boy has his mouth full of is his favorite -- honey. A mouthful of bees wax, yummy and happy!
Soon after his birth, several parts of his body were scratched to rub a medicine made of charcoal in. This is one of charms used in the Baka Pygmies community to pray for a baby’s healthy growth. By the way, this boy’s name is Hayashi.
A Baka Pygmy boy (his name is “Sato,” named by Prof. Sato). As he had a rash over his entire body, a medicine made of charcoal from bark was rubbed into his whole body.
Children help their family very well.
A Baka Pygmy boy, who is lifting up fish his father caught with a big smile.
A Baka boy who is writing letters on the blackboard and his teacher.
In the middle of finishing piling up the gathered peanuts in a circle and drying them in the field, during the season for gathering peanuts. A Bakwele boy is standing inside of the circle.
A Baka Pygmy girl, Ewawa and an amaryllidaceous flower called Apollo.
The Scenes of Meals
Usually, men and women have meals separately. However, everyone picks up and eats from one pot.
After drying it in the sun, this is sifted and kneaded in the hot water, then turns into a main dish. The side dishes are wild vines, something made of Gnetophyta leaves and mushrooms boiled with sauce made from peanuts.
A breakfast served at a “village café”: boiled plantain banana and bitter nuts of nightshade.
The staple in the northern savannah region is corn. Its powder is kneaded into chunks in the hot water. They call this “cous cous” but it differs from the version found in Northern Africa. This cous cous is served with a simmered sauce made of okura.
A family of Baka Pygmies is having supper. They are having boiled bananas with sauce, which is a side dish.
Pygmy men are eating “safa” (Dioscorea praehensilis), which was just gathered in the forests.
!The World of Songs and Dances
The gathering of songs and dances by the Baka Pygmies, called “be.” The one, who is dancing in the center is a spirit “jengi.”
Description of “be” (Taken by: Daisuke Bundo)
There are links for WMP and Real Player RP files. (These links are from the homepage of “Kyozai Kankaku Baka’s Mode of Co-Presence,” 2003).
* Women sing, a spirit “me” dances.
* Women are dancing simultaneously while they are singing. In the middle of this, the spirits charge the women.
* Firstly, the strongest spirit, jengi’s dance. Following that, is another spirit’s dance, which involves wearing a headdress.
* Buma dance. Its dancers do not wear headdresses. The women’s polyphonic sound is beautiful.
* The women singing around the jengi.
* The duet of the spirit and women.
!Conversations and Interactions of the Baka Pygmies
Video of some conversation of women who visited the hut of our field station
* utterance overlap and a long silence.
A conversation conducted in a camp located near the cultivation, around 2 km away from the village. When listening to this carefully, you can hear the utterances clearly overlap occasionally.
This is a continuation of the above video. You can clearly hear the utterances from far away.
Inside of the field station, my close contacts are talking. In the middle of the conversation, their utterances are severely overlapping.
Women’s conversation in the hut of the field station. Scenes of overlapping utterances and long silences can both be observed.
* The overlapping people
Two men are sitting in the hut of the field station. They are just silently sitting. They do not receive any pressure from something and thus these situations can often continue.
An old man is sitting like a shadow.
In the forest camp, a man and some children are sitting on a wood. How are they feeling? In the middle of the video, the man giggles at something he heard.
This is a continuation of the above video. Silently, the children are sitting in groups.
This man is also sitting in silence. Sometimes he utters some words to someone. These situations of silent sitting can be described as one of the characteristics of the Baka people.
Girls are looking in the room from the window. In reality, I am staring at them by taking this video. They unnaturally twist their bodies to look away but never ran away.
A man is staring inside the house. Even adults take such an action.
People rushed into the field station. In fact, the video was taken using the face-to-face mode on the display and they are watching the display. The severe overlapping of their conversations can be observed. * The Place for the Diffused Conversation
This shows the camp in the forests. Their voices echo throughout the camp. The borders in conversation are obscure.
A camp in the late afternoon. People come back and then conduct diffused conversations while cooking in front of a mongulu (dorm-shaped hunt).
The camp at night (the complete darkness of this screen is due to it being night time.) The voice of a man broadcasts through the darkness.
The camp at night. People are having conversations in groups around a lamp. The one sitting to the left is Mr. Kimura.
* What are they talking about?
People are looking very curiously at the video I took.
Working on transcribing the conversations.
These are the original scenes on which the transcription, shown on page 187, is based on. In front of the field station, several men and women are chatting. Occasionally, you can see bursts of overlapping conversation.
These are the original scenes which the transcription shown on page 190 and thereafter is based on. By hanging a tape recorder individually at banjo, I attempted to record all of their utterances. Firstly, they are providing gin.
Trying out the individual recording method in the forest camp. Using this method seems to make them nervous; no interesting conversation could be recorded.
!The People of the Forests and the Fish
A Bakwele girl, Benye, showed me a little fish which she caught at the Baka’s river bank where it had overflown due to the heavy rain of the rainy season. Even this small amount of fish, which was caught in the bathing spot, can be a decent side dish.
A boka in the dugout canoe. This is a big fish belonging to the Bagridae family and as with Japanese fish belonging to the same family, they squeak making a “gii gii” sound when lifted up to the air. They also make the loud and hoarse noise “vof vof” like coughing. Although they are a tasty fish they also have the nickname, “gOk-su,” meaning, “pig fish” which does not sound very nice. This name is given to them due to their wide-open mouths and their tendency to make the noises mentioned above. If you are described as being “like a boka,” it is an insulting comment for both men and women. Taken on the 16th February, 2002 on the River Dja.
Son of Mr. Caesar and a large Heterobranchus longifilis; CLARIIDAE. This is called “ndim” in Bakwele. This fish is called by three different names as they grow larger, sometimes growing over 150cm long. They have also a store of yellow fat in their adipose fin and offal which people love the taste of. This one had been caught in the hook of a trap and found by Mr. Caesar in the early morning, He brought the fish into the dug boat using grains and brought it to the camp. Taken the settled camp, Ngoko-sangh, located on the farthest part upstream of the Dongo River, on 8th February, 2004.
A Baka Pygmy, Mr. Movissa, and a small Clarias sp.; CLARIIDAE, “ngOlO.” This is the result of going to a swamp and “njenje” (this refers to general fishing in Baka but overnight hook fishing was conducted this time).
Mr. Arasan, a Fulbe, is engaged in agriculture, mainly working with cacao plantations in Ndongo village after migrating from far away in West Africa, he is also a keen fisherman as well. He brought longline fishing into the village, called “ngalu,” which involves a line with more than 100 large hooks. He does not use bait on the longline but can still catch some fish, which swim on the bottom of the main stream of the Dja River, such as Malapterurus electricus; MALAPTERURIDAE which this photo shows (“gugu” in Bakwele and “nbinbi” in Baka).
This fish called “kOga” in the Bakwele language has a dorsal fin like a razor and you can hurt yourself if you touch them carelessly. Taxonomically, this is categorized as a fish but, in fact, this is very close to the coelacanth and perhaps closer to an amphibian.
This fish is called “E-gEl-E-dii” in Bakwele, “mongsu”or “singa” in Lingala and is one species of blotched head snake. As the shape and pattern of head resembles that of pit vipers, they are nicknamed “water pit vipers.” When women and children are conducting bailing fishing with naked hands and this fish pokes its head from their hands, at first glance, it looks like a snake. Actually, this shock only lasts for one second as the fish’s head is cracked up by panga at the next moment.
A big cyprinid fish called “sEya” in Bakwele.
Another big cyprinid fish called “buOk” in Bakwele. Fishes categorized in the cyprinid labeo genus grow large and they are tasty. They are covered with large scales which resemble playing cards or business cards.
Xenomystus nigri; NOTOPTERIDAE, called “kako:l” in Bakwele. In direct translation, this means the “leaf of banana.” Young girls are forbidden to eat it.
Mr. Nazer just caught a fish categolized into Mormyridae, called “yagayaga” or “zElEngyi” in the Bakwele.
Mr. Kameda and a “koto” which he pulled in. This species is difficult to catch by a hook since their mouth is small. Mr. Kameda is a Bangand boy and he came deep into the Dja river with his brother to catch fish.
This is smaller than Hydrocynus (ALESTIDAE) which is in the following photo and similar to a tiger fish. This fish skims off other fish caught in the net which are called “ja:sEl” in the Bakwele language. Taken near the Gii Waterfall on 16th Feb, 2004.
“Djilalon” in Bakwele. They have sharp teeth and are tasty.
Synodontis angelicus; MOCHOKIDAE, called “kOlO-kOlO in the Bakwele language. Seven species of Synodontis in Mochokidae are utilized as food. Many of them have a beautiful appearance and quite a number of them are sold as “tropical fish” in Europe, the U.S. and Japan.
”E-yanga” in Bakwele. As the fish in the citharinidae family are deep-bodied and flat, net fishing easily catches them.
This is a small hard fish just over ten or so centimeters long. They are not used for food but as an aphrodisiac for men. To do so, they are skewered with some branches and dried until very hard by camp-fire, then people brew them and consume. It is exactly called “su-ba:z,”which means fluke fish, while its academic name is Phago boulengeri; CITHARINIDAE.
This is called “EyOmbO” in Bakwele. The blue stripe is distinctive but it disappears as the fish grows. This fish has white meat and is tasty but it is not very easy to eat since it has a substantial amount of small bones.
This black fish is called “pilu” in Bakwele, which means a “mourning dress.”
This is one kind of spiny eel, called “na-gozOk” in Bakwele. The sharp point is on its upper lip and it has small stingers on its back. Probably due to the shape and color (yellow stripes against black which is very distinctive when it is alive), they are not eaten but thrown away.
This is one kind of Protopterus aethiopicus, called “jOmbO” in Lingala. The taste is unique both like fish and unlike fish. They have a lot of fat in them and are thus popular.
Note1: Phonetic representation of fish names included capital letters apart from uncapitalized letters ([O]/[o] and [E]/[e]. [O] represents a clear sound with a vertically well-opened mouth. ([o] is pronounced with a slightly opened mouth) while [E] represents a clear sound with a widely well-opened mouth ([e] is pronounced without opening month widely.)
Note2: Regarding the specific names of fish, valid names on international code of zoological nomenclature often change according to the development of fish systematization. All scientific names are based on the current information when this webpage is written. For the latest information, please check The Catalog of fishes online which the California Academy of Science in the U.S. provides and Search FishBase provided by WorldFish Center.
!Daily Life Scenes at the Field Station
A Baka Pygmy boy, Sardine, is taking firewood into the field station for us. The drawing of water and collecting of firewood for our life in the field station are largely dependent on the Baka Pygmies, who are our neighbors. (December 1, 2002 at the field station: photo by Oishi)
Mr. Menata, a Baka Pygmy, who takes care to help many of the researchers conducting research in Ndongo with their research and daily life, brought a handmade piggy bank. The person sitting in the back is Mr. Daiji Kimura. (December 10, 2003 at the field station: photo by Oishi)
The people living in the Baka I village, where the field station is located, are full of curiosity. If someone finds a magazine or a picture book, others will come over to see it. By the way, the book with pictures that the standing boy is reading is a book of primates written in French, and the one which the other people are looking at is a Japanese magazine, Number, which featured the “2002 World Cup.” (October 21, 2002 at the field station: photo by Oishi)
When working on lexical analysis with a Bakwele informant, Mr. Ndumbe, a Baka Pygmy boy came from somewhere and started to take a nap. As he looked so comfortable, Mr. Ndumbe and I (Mr. Oishi) wrapped up the work earlier than planned. (December 13, 2003 at the field station: photo by Oishi)
!Mushrooms in the Forests
In tropical forests, you can see mushrooms with various colors and shapes appear on forest floor and from slashes. However, to find out which ones are edible you need to ask someone who lives in and is familiar with the forests. Here, some of relatively common mushrooms will be introduced (the identification of the mushrooms was conducted by Mr. Andre Njounonkou from the Graduate School of Science, the University of Yaounde I and Oishi).
Among the mushrooms growing in the forests, a symbiotic fungus of termites called “mocelele” by the Baka Pygmies, is soft and fantastically tasty with a rich flavor. Some of this fungus grows in dry season while others in rainy season. Accordingly, it is thought that there are a number of species that are categorized into Termitomyces gunus under the same local name. Occasionally, amazingly huge amount of mushrooms (more than 100) grow in clusters. (Photo by Oishi)
This mushroom is also a kind of symbiotic fungus of termites called “poku” by Baka Pygmies. These are commonly found on the roadsides. Its scientific name is Termitomyces mammiformis. (Photo by Oishi)
A Bakwele girl who is selling mushrooms of the Termitomyces genus in the morning market of Moloundou. The price for a handful of mushrooms was 200-300FCFA. (Photo by Oishi)
This is in a same species of Auricularia auricular-judae, which can be seen through the year. In a soup, it is very tasty. In Baka, it is called “dedele.” (Photo by Oishi)
This mushroom can be found not only in the forests, but also in the cultivations, and is called “essasu” in Bakuele(Bakwele) and “Kutu” in Baka. The one in this photo has a significantly opened pileus. As seen in the right photo, this mushroom has a druse (this part is not edible), whose texture is like rubber. If you do not collect the druses, you can gather the mushrooms again as they will grow again. (Photo by Oishi)
Phallus indusiatus vent after rain. The name in the Baka is “te-ngongolo,” which means the dwelling of centipedes. Photo taken on theroadside in Ndongo village. (Photo by Oishi)