Male Initiation Rite
to the Spirit of the Forest
(Baka Pygmies of Cameroon,Photos, texts and audio recordings
«Here in the belly of the forest, where the elders have brought us to make us into men, we no longer have names, we have no purpose. We are disappearing, but at the same time we can take on any form.
We are like water. We are clay just scooped out of a hole with hands and machete. We are molten metal waiting to be poured into a mould...»
From La foresta ti ha. Storia di un iniziazione (The Forest Has You. Story of an Initiation), by Luis Devin
(Italian edition: Castelvecchi - LIT Edizioni)
Since Baka male initiation is a partially secret rite (occurring in hidden places of the African rainforest), I will publish here only some of the images and sounds concerning the "public" ceremonies.
In fact, I think it is essential to respect the Baka traditions and cultural secrets. After all, they let me be part of a rite which has always been forbidden to foreigners. And even the other African peoples can seldom assist to these ceremonies. Besides, they did not want anything in exchange.
The affection and friendship I feel for this people could be more than enough for me to keep the promise not to reveal the secret rites which I made during my initiation experience.
Each photo of the initiation reproduced in this site or in other publications of mine has been taken with permission of my Baka friends, who agreed to make them public. The same is true for the narrative description of the rite's public ceremonies which has been published in my book The Forest Has You. Story of an Initiation (Italian edition: Castelvecchi - LIT Edizioni).
All the other unpublished photos and audio recordings relating to the secret rituals belong to the forest and its people.