The Info List - Aka People

The Aka or Bayaka[1] (also BiAka, Babenzele) are a nomadic Mbenga pygmy people. They live in southwestern Central African Republic
Central African Republic
and the Brazzaville
region of the Republic of the Congo. An ecologically diverse people, they occupy 11 different ecological zones of the Western Congo Basin. They are related to the Baka people of Cameroon, Gabon, northern Congo, and southwestern Central African Republic. Unlike the Mbuti
pygmies of the eastern Congo (who speak only the language of the tribes with whom they are affiliated), the Aka speak their own language along with whichever of the approximately 15 Bantu peoples they are affiliated. In 2003, the oral traditions of the Aka were proclaimed one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity
Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity
by UNESCO. They were featured in the July 1995 National Geographic article "Ndoki: the Last Place on Earth".[2]


1 Society

1.1 Parenting

2 History 3 Conservation efforts 4 Music 5 Films 6 See also 7 Books 8 References 9 External links


A family from a Ba Aka pygmy village in the Democratic Republic of the Congo 2006.

A traditional hunter-gatherer society, the Aka have a varied diet that includes sixty-three plants, twenty-eight species of game and twenty species of insect, in addition to nuts, fruit, honey, mushrooms and roots.[3] Some Aka have recently taken up the practice of planting their own small seasonal crops, but agricultural produce is more commonly obtained by trading with neighboring villages, whom the Aka collectively term as Ngandu. From the Ngandu, they obtain manioc, plantain, yams, taro, maize, cucumbers, squash, okra, papaya, mango, pineapple, palm oil, and rice in exchange for the bushmeat, honey, and other forest products the Aka collect. There are over 15 different village tribes with whom the approximately 30,000 Aka associate. As a result of their hunter-gatherer lifestyle, which frequently exposes them to the blood of jungle fauna, they have among the highest rates of seropositivity for Ebola virus
Ebola virus
in the world.[4] Parenting[edit]

Woman with baby in southern Central African Republic
Central African Republic
in 2014

Fathers of the Aka tribe spend more time in close contact to their babies than in any other known society. Aka fathers have their infant within arms' reach 47% of the time[5] and make physical contact with them five times as often per day as fathers in some other societies.[3] The men also help the women, by feeding their children. It is believed that this is related to the strong bond between Aka husband and wife. Throughout the day, couples share hunting, food preparation, and social and leisure activities. History[edit]

Woman hunting in southern Central African Republic
Central African Republic
in 2014

The lifestyle of the Aka has been shifted from their traditional customs by European colonialism. The slave trade of the 18th century caused the migration of several tribes into Aka lands. These tribes subsequently became affiliated with the Aka. By the end of the 19th century, the Aka were the major elephant hunters providing tusks for the ivory trade. Affiliated tribes acted as middlemen in these transactions. From 1910 to 1940, the Aka lands were part of French Equatorial Africa, and nearby affiliated tribes were forced into rubber production by the colonialists. These laborers occasionally escaped into forests inhabited by the Aka, increasing the demand for bushmeat. To meet this demand, the Aka developed the more efficient method of net hunting to replace traditional spear hunting. This caused a change in the social structure of the Aka: net hunting was seen as less physically challenging than using spears to kill game, and so women were encouraged take part in hunting activities. In the 1930s, the French pressed the Aka to move into roadside villages. However, like the Efé of the Ituri rainforest, most Aka disobeyed and retreated into the jungle, with few joining the new settlements (except for a few villages in Congo-Brazza). Today, economic pressures have forced the Aka to further deviate from their traditional customs. Many Aka now work in the coffee plantations of neighbouring tribes during the dry season instead of hunting as they would have done, and others have found employment in the ivory and lumber trade. Conservation efforts[edit] The World Wildlife Fund
World Wildlife Fund
of Washington, DC, has worked with the Aka since the 1980s to protect gorilla habitats, minimize logging of forest, and promote other conservation efforts while empowering the Aka and other indigenous peoples.[6] Music[edit] Their complex polyphonic music has been studied by various ethnomusicologists. Simha Arom
Simha Arom
has made historical field recordings of some of their repertoire. Michelle Kisliuk has written a detailed performance ethnography.[7] Mauro Campagnoli studied their musical instruments in depth, comparing them to neighbouring pygmy groups such as the Baka Pygmies. Aka musicians appear on African Rhythms (György Ligeti, Steve Reich and Pierre-Laurent Aimard, 2003), Echoes of the Forest: Music of the Central African Pygmies (Ellipsis Arts, 1995), BOYOBI: Ritual Music of the Rainforest Pygmies (Louis Sarno, 2000), and Bayaka: The Extraordinary Music of the BaBenzele Pygmies (Louis Sarno, 1996). Films[edit] Song from the Forest[8] by German director Michael Obert
Michael Obert
tells the story of American Louis Sarno who has lived among the Bayaka pygmies in the central African rainforest for 25 years and travels with his son, 13-year-old pygmy boy Samedi, to New York City. The film premiered at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam 2013 [9][10] where it was honored with the Award for Best Feature-Length Documentary.[11][12] See also[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Aka people.

Other Pygmy

Efé Baka Twa peoples

Anthropologists studying the Aka

Barry Hewlett Michelle Kisliuk


Seize the Dance! BaAka Musical Life and the Ethnography of Performance by Michelle Kisliuk (Oxford University Press, 2000). Song from the Forest -- My Life Among the Ba-Benjellé Pygmies by Louis Sarno (Houghton Mifflin 1993).


^ The Aka call themselves Baaka (which means Aka people) and their language Aka. In the Lobaye region, these become Bayaka and Yaka due to epenthesis whenever there is no consonant starting a syllable. In Bagandu, the forms are Biaka and Diaka, and in the Sangha River region, Babenjelé and Aka. (It is not clear if these are endonyms or exonyms.) The names in Sango and Lingala
are Ba(m)benga and Beka. (Duke, 2001, Aka as a Contact Language.) ^ Michael Nichols (2001). "Gallery: Ndoki: The Last Place on Earth".  ^ a b Barry Hewlett (1991). Intimate Fathers: The Nature and Context of Aka Pygmy
Paternal Infant Care. University of Michigan Press. Full chapter 2 ^ Johnson ED, Gonzalez JP, Goerges A (1993). "Filovirus activity among selected ethnic groups inhabiting the tropical forest of equatorial Africa". Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. 87: 536–538. doi:10.1016/0035-9203(93)90077-4.  ^ "Are the men of the African Aka tribe the best fathers in the world? Society". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-02-09.  ^ "Congo Basin: Protecting Africa's Tropical Forests: People". World Wildlife Fund.  ^ "Michelle Kisliuk and Justin Mongosso: The BaAka of Central Africa".  ^ Song From the Forest. songfromtheforest.com. Accessed 14 July 2016 ^ Neil Young (23 November 2013). "Song From the Forest: IDFA Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 9 February 2016.  ^ Eric Kohn (6 April 2015). "Review: In 'Song From the Forest,' Louis Sarno Joins a Py - Indiewire". Indiewire. Retrieved 9 February 2016.  ^ "Song From The Forest wins at IDFA". Retrieved 9 February 2016.  ^ "Page not found - IDFA". Retrieved 9 February 2016. 

External links[edit]

Article: "Are the men of the African Aka tribe the best fathers in the world?" Fieldwork about Baka, Aka and other pygmy groups African Pygmies with photos, music and ethnographic notes www.songfromtheforest.com (SONG FROM THE FOREST official website)

v t e

Oral and Intangible Heritage: representative list


Aka music Chopi timbila Garifuna culture Afounkaha Gbofe Gelede Gule Wamkulu Ifá Ijele Masquerade Kamablon
re-roofing Kankurang Manden Charter Mbende Jerusarema Sosso Bala Ugandan barkcloth
Ugandan barkcloth
making Vimbuza healing dance Yaaral & Degal Zafimaniry
woodcrafting Zambian Makishi Festival

Arab States

Ahellil Al-Sirah Al-Hilaliyyah Bedu
culture at Petra
and Wadi Rum Iraqi maqam Jemaa el-Fnaa Palestinian Hikaye Shashmaqam Song of Sana'a Taghribat Bani Hilal Tan-Tan Moussem

Asia and Pacific

Acupuncture & Moxibustion Ainu dance Akiu no Taue Odori Akyn Angklung "Arirang" Bakhshi music Batik Baul Beijing opera Boysun District Bunraku Cantonese opera Ca trù Chakkirako Cheoyongmu Chhau dance Chinese architecture Chinese block printing Chinese calligraphy Chinese paper cutting Chinese seal engraving Chinese shadow puppetry Daemokjang Daimokutate Dainichido Bugaku Darangen Epic Dragon Boat Festival Drametse Ngacham Epic of King Gesar Gagaku Gagok Ganggangsullae Gangneung Danoje Festival Gimjang Gióng Festival Gong culture Grand Song Guqin Guqin
music Hayachine Kagura Hitachi Furyumono Hua'er Hudhud Chant Indonesian kris Jamdani Jeju Chilmeoridang Yeongdeunggut Jultagi Kabuki Kalbelia Kashan rug Katta Ashula Khoomei Koshikijima no Toshidon Kumiodori Kunqu Kutiyattam Ladakh chant Lakalaka Lenj boats Lhamo Longquan celadon Mak yong Mangal Shobhajatra Mazu belief Meshrep Mibu no Hana Taue Morin khuur Mosie ramie Mudiyett Muqam Naadam Namsadang Nori Nanyin Naqqāli Nhã nhạc Noh Oku-noto no Aenokoto Pahlevani and zoorkhaneh rituals Pansori Pungmul Quan họ Radif Ramlila Ramman Royal Ballet of Cambodia Regong arts Royal Ancestral Ritual Sada Shin Noh Saman dance Sand drawing Sbek Toch Sekishu-Banshi Shiraz rug Taekkyeon Ta'zīye Urtiin Duu Vedic chanting Wayang Xi'an ensemble Xuan paper Yamahoko Yeongsanjae Yūki-tsumugi Yunjin

Europe and North America

Albanian iso-polyphony Ashik Ashiqs of Azerbaijan Aubusson tapestry Azerbaijani rug


Azerbaijani tar Baltic song and dance celebrations Bećarac Busójárás Căluş Cante Alentejano Cantu a tenore Carnival of Aalst Carnival of Binche Castell Chovgan Christmas Tsars Council of Wise Men of the plain of Murcia & Water Tribunal of the plain of Valencia Copper craftsmanship of Lahij Cremona violins Croatian lacemaking Daina Daredevils of Sassoun Doina Duduk Fado Falconry Falles of the Pyrenees Festivity of 'la Mare de Déu de la Salut' of Algemesí Festivity of Saint Blaise Flamenco French timber framing scribing Fujara Georgian vocal polyphony Horezu ceramics Houtem Jaarmarkt Hrvatsko Zagorje
Hrvatsko Zagorje
toys Istrian scale Jem Karagöz and Hacivat Kelaghayi Keşkek Khachkar Kihnu culture Kırkpınar Klapa Kryždirbystė Kvevri
wine La Patum Lefkaritika Licitar Ljelje/Kraljice Makishi Festival Maldovan Christmas Carols Maloya Manas Meddah Mediterranean diet Mesir Macunu Mugham Mystery Play of Elche Nestinarstvo Nijemo Kolo Nowruz

Azerbaijani Indian Iranian Turkish

Ojkanje Olonkho Opera dei Pupi Petrykivka decorative painting Procession of the Holy Blood Sama Semeiskie culture Seto Leelo Silbo Gomero Sinjska alka Slovácko Verbuňk Turkish Sohbet The Song of the Sibyl Suiti culture Sutartinės Táncház Turkish coffee Viennese cafes Wajãpi culture Za križen Zvončari

Caribbean and Latin America

Carnaval de Barranquilla Brotherhood of the Holy Spirit of the Congos of Villa Mella Candombe Carnaval de Negros y Blancos Carnaval de Oruro Círio de Nazaré Cocolo Costa Rican oxherding Dancing Devils of Yare Danza de los Voladores Danza de tijeras Frevo Garifuna culture Gióng Festival Harakmbut Huaconada Indigenous Day of the Dead Kallawaya
culture Mexican cuisine Moore Town's Maroon Heritage Palenque de San Basilio Panama hat Parachico Peña de Bernal Pirekua Popayán Holy Week processions Pütchipü'ü Quyllur Rit'i Rabinal Achí Samba de Roda South Pacific Colombian marimba Tango Taquile textiles La Tumba Francesa Vallenato Wajãpi culture Yaokwa Záparo culture

Authority control

LCCN: sh85003038 SUDOC: 027361772 BNF: cb1194