From the forest to the side of the road

Excerpt from CNN archives: "... They have no legal title to any land in the forest they've occupied since ancient times...Government policy refers to them as "marginal social groups," to be made into productive members of Cameroon's society by surrendering their nomadic life to clear land and plant crops...In other words, Bakas are expected to abandon the culture and spiritual life that connects them to the forest, and to join in its destruction -- a process already begun...Alcoholism, prostitution, unemployment and exploitation by dominant Bantus are common dangers confronting Bakas when they leave the forest. "They are facing a very violent civilization, and from this civilization they tend to take only the bad aspects," says university lecturer Roger Ngoufo. In their new settlements, the Baka people are in transition, no longer depending on hunting and gathering in the forest - and facing an uncertain future in the fast-growing towns and villages around them... Several residents in the roadside settlements say they are happy to be there - the forest is too dangerous. But others say the forest is paradise lost..."

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