In Cameroon, about 6 000 Bagyeli and Bakola pygmies live on a territory of almost 12 000 km2 in the country’s southern part.
The Bagyeli culture is primarily based on its relation to the forest. They hunt and fish there, build their houses from wood, pick fruit and leaves and harvest honey. Moreover, for the pygmies « the forest is the place where the nature spirits live who watch over them, protect them, or on the contrary, punish them ». Through their forest practices, the pygmies are known for their biodiversity conservation: they only take what they need without destroying the fauna and flora, allowing nature to recover. Unfortunately, their lifestyle of biodiversity conservation is not to their advantage as the laws do not recognize their way of land exploitation (no permanent constructions, no plantations, etc.).
The majority of the pygmies still live in villages in the middle of the forest often situated more than 10 km from each other. In the past, these sites were only places of passage for this nomadic people; nowadays, they are living places where the pygmies semi-settle
Nevertheless, as they are still hunting over large areas, they are often away from their homes for several days or weeks.
A pygmy community, consisting of 14 villages, lies within the proximity of the Kienké plantation: à Kilombo, at 15 km of Kribi, has about 70 residents, Naminkoumbé, a touristic Bagyeli village situated at 10 km of Kribi, has about 100 inhabitants, Mvoumgangom has about 20 inhabitants , Lendi with 100 inhabitants, Boumapenda has about 25 inhabitants, Bongandi with 20 inhabitants, Ngola with 31 inhabitants, Naela with 18 inhabitants, Nadong Ntembi has about 29 inhabitants, Elimimbang has about 15 inhabitants, Bingiendo, has about 20 inhabitants, Kundu Kundu has about 17 inhabitants, Nkouli Zouli with 42 inhabitants,and Nkaga has about 14 habitants. They are neighbouring residents of both Hévéacam and Socapalm.
The Kienké plantation tries to play a role in the integration of the pygmies, offering them access to the health services and improving access to education for the youngest: allocation of educational material, school uniforms, tables-benches, renovation of classrooms, etc. paying the teachers’ salaries and since a while the employment of the Kilombo leader at the Kienké plantation.
Access to education will help them implement forest conservation practices and acquire the required knowledge to protect themselves against infectious diseases coming from the outside world and that the forest cannot heal.
A sharing and dialogue platform was established with the Kilombo pygmies thanks to the facilitation of the NGO BACUDA (Bagyelis Cultural Development Association), represented by its chairperson Biloa Jeanne. In 2021, we have the creation of a drinking water point in Kilombo, and the implementation of the citizenship project piloted by Socapalm in collaboration with the NGO BACUDA and the local town hall.
The main objective of this project is to provide the Pygmy communities with birth certificates and national identity cards, which will also enable Socapalm to give these communities the opportunity to become part of its workforce.
In addition, a promise of assistance from Socapalm for their benefit (solar energy, water, etc.) has been made and the various projects mentioned are being studied.