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Story Publication logo July 19, 2022

Cameroon: Death Threat to the “God of the Pygmies” Due to Deforestation


a woman is on a forest

Despite efforts by public and private authorities, conservation faces several constraints including...

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This story excerpt was translated from French. To read the original story in full, visit Le360 Afrique. You may also view the original story on the Rainforest Journalism Fund website here. Our website is available in English, Spanish, bahasa Indonesia, French, and Portuguese.

Each people in Africa lives with its own god, a manifestation of the universal God. The god of the Pygmies of Cameroon is currently threatened because of the deforestation that is ravaging the vegetal heritage of the eastern and southern regions.

Video courtesy of Le360 Afrique. Cameroon, 2022.

According to the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife, Cameroon has approximately 22 million hectares of forest, or nearly 46% of the country's total area. Most of these forests are found in the Central, Eastern, and Southern regions. And it is precisely in these regions that the Pygmies, one of the country's Indigenous peoples, live.

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The Pygmies are divided into four main groups: the Baka, the Bagyely, the Medzam, and the Bakola. All of these groups live primarily off the fruits of the forest and it is also in this environment that their traditional cults are practiced. These ancestral practices allow them to be in phase with their god called "Edjengui," the God of the forest.

"Edjengui is the one who makes us live. Everything we ask of him, he gives us, both for food and for our care," says the Baka chief Abila, whom we met in Assok, a village located in the Mintom district in the southern region. According to our illustrious interlocutor, Edjengui was bequeathed to the Baka by their ancestors. He lives in places in the forest that are strictly forbidden without the approval of an initiated Pygmy. Edjengui is a visible spirit who participates from time to time in the life of the community, and his public appearances are generally a harbinger of good or bad news, adds Abila.