On October 4, 2016, the indigenous forest peoples of Cameroon gathered in Akonétyé, district of Djoum, for a General Assembly with the aim of officially establishing their own platform. The platform was named “Gbabandi”, the Baka word for a termite mound, which illustrates the union of diverse indigenous communities working towards common goals.
Gbabandi was formed in 2016 by indigenous peoples’ associations working with more than 100 indigenous Baka and Bagyeli communities in Cameroon, in order to better represent the views of indigenous forest peoples at the national level. The platform currently has nine indigenous member organisations, and this number is growing. Member organisations are based throughout Cameroon’s South and East forest regions representing Baka and Bagyeli peoples, with Bakola and Bedzang organisations expected to join soon. Each organisation has links with local indigenous communities in its area of operation.
Gbabandi’s objective is to strengthen the direct representation of Cameroon’s indigenous forest peoples at both local and national levels, and to increase their effective participation in decision-making processes. For these communities, Gbabandi is the space that allows them to communicate, to maintain inter-community dialogue which leads them to imagine a common future, and to collectively invest in moving towards their desired future.
Assembly of Indigenous Peoples of the Forests as a prelude to the meeting with conservation organizations.
GBABANDI EXPERIENCING AND RESISTING WWF ABUSES:
Racist conservation: a short video explaining what is happening to the Baka’s land and WWF’s involvement
WWF is supporting the creation of a new protected area in Congo, Messok Dja. The Baka haven’t given their consent to the park. In this video Dede, a Baka man, explains why they don’t want the park and why what conservationists are doing is terrible. Tribal people must be at the center of conservation efforts on their lands. It’s time to listen to them. #DecolonizeConservation
WWF and the European Commission say they are not aware of human rights violations in the creation of Messok Dja national park. Survival International says listen to Odette. She shares her experience of beatings and violence at the hands of park rangers when her family tries to enter the forest to fish or collect mangoes for food. As her story shows, the Baka tribe have not given their consent to the park.
Listen to this Baka man explain how he was tortured for hunting to feed his family. As Survival International revealed, the police chief responsible was found to be involved in ivory trafficking himself. Across Africa, tribal people are accused of “poaching” because they hunt to feed their families. And they face arrest and beatings, torture and death, while big game trophy hunters are encouraged.
This Baka man was evicted in a neighbouring area by a safari company, and explains how his community is being devastated by safari guards and wildlife guards, how much what they lost means to them.
An elephant-hunting safari operation jointly owned by French billionaire Baron Benjamin de Rothschild has been implicated in human rights abuses – including illegal evictions and torture – against local Baka “Pygmies” and their neighbours. This is not an isolated incident. Across Africa, tribal people are accused of “poaching” because they hunt to feed their families. And they face arrest and beatings, torture and death, while big game trophy hunters are encouraged. Survival International is leading the fight against these abuses.
The Keta Project
The Keta project began in April 2019 and runs until March 2022. Keta is the Baka word for “dream”. The objective of this EU-funded project is to strengthen the active participation of forest-based indigenous peoples (both organisations and communities) in sustainable natural resource management, in order to enhance the promotion, protection and defence of indigenous peoples’ human rights.
Key components of the project include organisational capacity building support for the Gbabandi platform from Well Grounded; a tailor-made training programme for indigenous leaders; training on key natural resource management issues; and support for the Gbabandi Indigenous Women’s Network. Keta has been designed in conjunction with indigenous associations as a follow-on from the EU Cameroon project, which initially supported the creation of the Gbabandi Platform. Project partners are Forest Peoples Programme, Okani and Gbabandi.
Fighting Land Exploitation Through Video Making
How can Participatory Video be used to defend rights?
Timothee Emini from OKANI in Cameroon describes how video is a powerful tool in his work on conservation and land rights.
How can you support the Gbabandi?
As with all our partners, we are trying to support Gbabandi with raising funds for specific projects and aspects of their ongoing work. If you would like to contribute below you will find a chuffed page where you can donate directly to Gbabandi and more information on what Gbabandi will use the funding towards.
What Gbabandi is going to do with the money raised:
Gbabandi is building and equipping a leadership training center. This center will train men and women capable in the future of claiming, denouncing and reporting on violations that affect them. They need to build a dormitory for women and to pay for scholarships for those residing at the center.
FOLLOW AND LEARN MORE ABOUT GBABANDI