In Cameroon, around 6 000 Bagyeli and Bakola pygmies live in an area of almost 12 000 km2 in the southern part of the country.

Bagyeli culture is mainly based on its relationship with the forest. They hunt and fish there, cut wood for their houses, gather fruit and leaves and harvest honey. For the pygmies, “the forest is the place where the spirits of nature watch over them, protect them or, on the contrary, punish them”. Through their practices in the forest, the pygmies are renowned for their sense of protecting biodiversity: they only take what they need without destroying the fauna and flora, thus allowing nature to regenerate. Unfortunately, their lifestyle of protecting biodiversity is not to their advantage because the laws do not recognize their way of developing the land (no permanent buildings, no planting, etc.).

Most of them still live in villages deep in the forest, sometimes more than 10 km apart. In the past, for this nomadic people, these sites were simply places of passage; today, they are places where the pygmies live in a semi-sedentary lifestyle.

Nevertheless, as they still hunt over vast areas, they are sometimes away from home for several days or weeks at a time.

Bagyélis communities, divided into 12 villages, live around the Kienké plantation.

To the south of the plantation are the communities of:

  1. Bogandi to Kilombo, located approximately 20 km from Kribi, with a population of about 20;
  2. Ngola, towards Nko’olong – a neighboring village of the plantation, with a population of 15;
  3. And Bounafenda on the road from Hevecam to Bidou 3, with a population of 20.

On the other side, about ten kilometers from the plantation, live the communities of:

  1. Nalea, with 15 inhabitants;
  2. Nadontembi, with 10 inhabitants;
  3. And Fouli, in the Lendi village area, with 30 inhabitants.

Towards Mpangou, we return to the communities of:

  1. Kundu, with an estimated population of about 15;
  2. Nkaga, towards Bikondo.

Towards Mvoumgangom, 10 km from Kribi, lies the community of:

  1. Naminkoumbé, a Bagyelis tourist village with about 30 inhabitants.

The last 3 communities are located on the Kribi-Bipindi stretch. These three communities have a population of about 15 inhabitants:

  1. Bigiedo;
  2. Elimimbang in the village of Bilolo;
  3. And Nkoli Zouli/Shio in the village of Bissiang.

The Kienké plantation tries to play a role in the integration of the pygmies, by facilitating their access to health care and improving access to schooling for the youngest and teenagers by taking charge of their schooling: providing them with teaching materials, school uniforms, payment of school fees, bench tables, refurbishment of their classrooms, etc., but also by paying the teachers’ salaries.

A framework for exchange and dialogue has been established with the 12 Bagyeli communities surrounding the Kienké plantation, facilitated by the NGO BACUDA (Bagyelis Cultural Development Association) represented by its President, Mrs. Jeanne BILOA. The result is a community interest project focusing on the establishment of birth certificates by Socapalm for the benefit of the Bagyelis. In order to strengthen relations with these communities, the Kienké plantation plans to set up a platform for bipartite meetings (Socapalm-BAGYELI).

In this context, the last 2 years have been crucial in improving communication between Socapalm and the Bagyeli community. Socapalm has undertaken to approach Bagyeli representatives through the NGO BACUDA to ensure their presence at tripartite meetings (Socapalm, local communities and the prefecture) and to set up a regular awareness-raising program with them. The initiative was developed in December 2021 and relaunched in November 2022 through the partnership with BACUDA.