1. Waiting in the
initiation hut.
African Pygmies   > Baka Pygmies   > Music and Rituals

Male Initiation Rite

to the Spirit of the Forest

(Baka Pygmies of Cameroon,
Gabon and Congo)
Photos, texts and audio recordings
by Luis Devin
Luis Devin - La Foresta ti ha
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Water Drums
Soundscape: sounds of the Baka initiation camp
and surrounding rainforest. In the background, ritual
dance with initiates shouting (Baka Pygmies of Cameroon).
2. Ritual application
of palm oil and
coloring substances.

Since Baka male initiation is an almost completely secret rite (occurring in secret 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. Even the other African peoples can seldom assist to these ceremonies. Besides, they did not want anything in exchange.
3. Male initiation
candidates during
a ritual.
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. All the other unpublished photos and audio recordings relating to the secret rituals belong to the forest and its people.

4. Public ceremony.
5. Initiates sitting in
the large special hut.
6. Daily meal during
a phase of the Baka
initiation rite to the
Spirit of the Forest.
Go to the page: Food preparation
7. Women performing polyphonic songs
with accompaniment of single-skin drums
for the initiatory dances.
Go to the page: Music and musical instruments
The author:
Music anthropologist and writer, he has carried out field research in central Africa, where he lived with the Baka Pygmies and other forest peoples, whose music, rituals and survival strategies he has been studying for more than a decade.


Luis Devin and the male initiation rite of the Baka Pygmies (Baka Pygmies of Cameroon, Gabon and Congo).

Photos, texts and audio recordings by Luis Devin.
Page URL: http://www.pygmies.org/baka/male-initiation.php

Photos, videos and sounds are available for licensing, both for multimedia use and paper publications. For the terms and conditions, contact the author from the Contact page.

The time in the tropical rainforests of the Western Congo Basin, where the Baka pygmy people live, is 05:45. The sun is about to rise. Every minute, at least 25 hectares (250.000 m²) of forest are destroyed around the world (source: WWF).

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Copyright © 1998-2014 Luis Devin. All rights reserved.