History

Cradled in the heart of the African rainforest live one of the oldest and most sensitive musical cultures on earth. Here live the Baka Pygmies, skilled hunter-gatherers. Living in a world of natural sounds where to listen well ensures survival, they have become extraordinarily musical. Song and dance have always permeated their lives, for ritual and fun and to unite and create harmony in the group. The women sing ‘Yelli’ to ensure life, to enchant the animals and bring luck in the hunt. Not only are the Baka amongst the most musical people, they are also some of the poorest and most marginalised on earth.Title

Baka culture and the forest itself are rich and increasingly fragile. Both are under threat from pressures from the outside world. Martin Cradick and Su Hart have visited the Baka since 1992 and a lifelong musical friendship has grown and evolved. Martin’s many recordings provide royalties which are used for forest projects decided by the Baka themselves. The Baka realise that their music and dance underpins their culture and unites them. It not only brings them financial reward but more importantly, the respect of their Cameroonian neighbours and recognition in the wider world.

Music House

In 2003 Martin Cradick took Andi Main, a skilled timber frame builder, to the Baka community to start the construction of their music house. With the use of tools donated by the charity, “Tools for Self Reliance” he taught Baka and Bantu the basics of timber frame construction and together they built a magnificent house from one giant Sapelli tree. The Music House is the first building of its kind built and owned by an indigenous community in this part of Africa. It is being used as a meeting place for their newly formed association, Gbiné, as well as to showcase culture. They now realise that their music and dance underpins their culture and unites them and is something of value to others. It not only brings them financial rewards, but more importantly, the respect of their Cameroonian neighbours and recognition in the wider world.