Source: Africa: "Voices of the Forest"
Funding for the VITAL/Ready to Teach collection was secured through the United States Department of Education under the Ready to Teach Program.
The Baka people live in southeast Cameroon in the Congo Basin, the second largest rainforest in the world. The ancient Egyptians recorded contact with the Baka dating over 2,500 years before the birth of Christ. Referred to as "pygmies" by Europeans who explored the region 4000 years later, the people call themselves “Baka” which has the loose meaning of "free as a bird." They were semi-nomadic, living off the land and building temporary shelters as they moved from place to place. Recently, in exchange for jobs and access to schools, many Baka have left the forests. Learn more about the Baka in a three-part sequence of videos from the series Africa.
Africa, culture, rainforest, analogies, references, ecosystems, Congo
The following Frame, Focus and Follow-up suggestions are best suited for middle school students using this video in an English language arts or science lesson. Be sure to modify the questions to meet your students' instructional needs.
What is Frame, Focus and Follow-up?
Frame (ELA) How are characters influenced by the environment in which they live or the setting of a story?
Focus (ELA) What is life like for the Baka in the rainforest?
Follow Up (ELA) If the Baka were to move to another setting, say New York City, how might they change? What might remain the same? Discuss how various settings would influence the Baka.
Frame (SCI) What do you know about the rainforest ecosystem? What is the rainforest like? Are you aware of any particular rainforests in the world? Describe.
Focus (SCI) How are the Baka influenced by the environment in which they live? Also, how is the environment affected by the Baka?
Follow Up (SCI) Discuss how the Baka's environment may have changed over the centuries. How does the loss of trees in the rainforest affect populations of animals and trees that live in areas outside of that rainforest?
NARRATOR: No one knows how long these people have lived in the rainforest. Ancient Egyptians recorded contact with them two and a half thousand years before the birth of Christ. Europeans who explored this region four thousand years later called them ‘pygmies’..But they call themselves ‘Baka’ – a word of unknown origin with just a ghost of a meaning….’Free like a bird’. The Baka believe they were thrown out of heaven for being too noisy, and sent to live in the forest.
MAN: When are we going to dance. I’m ready to dance..! Come on I’m tired of waiting!
MAN WHITE SHIRT: First I must put on my shoes and trousers. I must fix my collar and comb my hair so I look handsome!
MAN: And then we can party!
NARRATOR: Africa’s huge rainforests straddle the equator. This corner of South East Cameroon is part of the central Congo basin – a region with year round heat and humidity. These are Africa’s most ancient rainforests. This is the place the Baka call home. A semi-nomadic forest people, the Baka traditionally lived across huge territories. Then in the nineteen-sixties, life changed. The Cameroonian government encouraged the Baka to move out of the forest. In return for settling in roadside villages, the Baka gained access to schools, medical care and the chance to trade…
It seemed like a good deal. For some, like Armand Bamisso, life in the village of Bosquet offers the best of both worlds.
ARMAND: We can send our kids to school and build houses.. We breathe easily as there are still trees around all us.
NARRATOR: Armand has lived in Bosquet since the village first came together in nineteen-seventy-two. He can’t remember things any other way. But some can recall a time before the red dirt highway. Like Jeanne Bejo – at sixty-eight, she is the oldest woman in Bosquet.
JEANNE: We would walk through the forest stopping wherever we liked. We cut leaves and sticks to make temporary shelters. We ate plants and fish and the men looked for game. But now we stay here…for 2 to 3 months at a time.
NARRATOR: The surrounding trees are more than just a backdrop to village life. In all of the most important respects, the old ways still live on. The rainforest may look like the Garden of Eden but it offers precious little in the way of food. There are more than eight thousand plant species in a Cameroonian forest…most are inedible to all but the most specialized foragers. Black and white colobus monkeys feed mainly on leaves, foraging high up in the forest canopy. A low grade food, this foliage doesn’t offer much in the way of nutritional value. In order to survive, each colobus must eat a third of its own body weight in leaves each day.
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We assign reference terms to each statement within a standards document and to each media resource, and correlations are based upon matches of these terms for a given grade band. If a particular standards document of interest to you is not displayed yet, it most likely has not yet been processed by ASN or by Teachers' Domain. We will be adding social studies and arts correlations over the coming year, and also will be increasing the specificity of alignment.