The second Forest Voices Tour took place in December 2015.
We are currently raising money to complete the editing of the video footage of this tour.
More info at forestvoices.com
During February and March 2014 we organised the pilot Forest Voices Tour. Baka musicians, Orchéstre Baka Gbiné were taken to 5 Baka communities around the Dja Reserve.
The tour had an impact far greater than we could have imagined. The only criticism was that we didn’t go to enough communities.
We remedied this with a bigger, better Forest Voices Tour in December 2015.
Since the Baka musicians live hundreds of kilometres from the nearest tarmac road, transport and logistics are a challenge.
With the full support of OKANI, the only Baka run NGO in Cameroon, we raised funds to pay for the logistics, equipment and technical expertise needed to make the tour a success.
The Forest Voices Tours have shown many Baka that they are not alone with their problems and gave them the chance to let their voices be heard.
Help us finance future tours and reach many more Baka communities.
During the dry season pressure on the spring near to Gbiné can get intense. In 2013 the spring almost dried up, and in conjunction with the pump in the village being broken, clean water was a problem.
We put an appeal out on GlobalGiving and managed to raise money to cap the spring to keep the water clean and flowing.
We contacted Samuel Owoundi, a local entrepreneur, who sent us his sub-contractor, Moise Akombombo who had experience in spring capture. Having given us an estimate of 300,000 cfa and explained his proposed method it was decided to proceed at once, while we were on site to help and supervise.
A new path was cleared and widened to allow easier transport of sand and cement, then the waiting began. First it was delivery of materials that were delayed, then Moise’s father suffered an accident which meant that he needed regular visiting, so work only advanced sporadically. However with the help of the Baka workers and Andi’s hard work it was completed on time.
The water level was successfully raised by about 30cm and by digging an outflow trench a fall of 50cm was attained,and the holding pond filled with boulders and capped with concrete to protect from surface pollution. A small concrete basin was built under the flow pipe to collect the overflow. We were able to have a simple inauguration ceremony the day before we left.
The quality of the water will be greatly improved but not the quantity, although by stoppering or eventually a tap, a reserve of several 100 litres can de accumulated overnight. it is still far from enough for the local demand as the village pump is still not functioning.
In February 2015 we recorded twelve educational songs.
Here’s one of them:
This is what a magazine in Cameroon wrote about the project:
Baka musicians from the far South-East corner of Cameroon, Baka Gbiné, have been recording songs for an innovative education project. They have been commissioned to write and record 12 songs that will help teach Baka children basic French, numbers and letters.
The recording is being carried out by Martin Cradick of Global Music Exchange. He has been working with this group of musicians and their families since 1992. “It’s great to see the seeds of our work with Baka at Gbiné bear fruit”, he said. “Proper paid work for these musicians from a very deprived part of Cameroon. So often they are exploited for as little money as possible. That’s not much around here. It can be as low as 300f for several hours hard work. It is good to see their exceptional talents recognised. ”
With the blessing of Her Excellency Mme Youssouf Hadidja, Minister of Basic Education, Martin Cradick has been asked to oversee the recording project. They had a meeting at the ministry while Martin was in Yaounde where she expressed her interest in finding a solution to the problem of Baka education. Martin will be setting up a mobile multitrack studio in the forest several kilometres from the village and road. Here the musicians can work undisturbed by the noise if everyday village life. The finished songs, sung in both Baka and French, will be turned into mp3s and put onto wind-up MP3 players that will be give to several pilot Baka communities. The songs include counting, letters and phonetics. The songs will be ready in march in time for the pilot projects to start. It is hard to see how this project could ever have come to pass without both Baka Gbiné, who are probably the only group of Baka musicians around capable of writing these songs, and Martin Cradick, who is probably the only person capable of recording and producing them in such basic conditions. If I’m wrong please tell me. We need more of their kind in Cameroon.