Aspects of Interactions between Baka Hunter Gatherers and Migrant Merchants in Southeastern CameroonAspects of Interactions between Baka Hunter Gatherers and Migrant Merchants in Southeastern CameroonAA00442310
Baka Pygmies and their neighboring farmers have been facing the continuouspressure of the market economy since the 1950s. Following sedentarization andagricultural development, cash began to circulate everywhere, led by the repeatedcommercial timber logging operations since the 1970s. In addition, cacao farmingis widely practiced in the region, including by the Baka. As a perennial tree crop,cacao plantations constitute a new kind of property for the Baka. Cacao cultivationgives them direct access to the market economy without mediation and control byneighboring farmers. This gives the Baka local autonomy. On the other hand,economic inequality is emerging among individual Baka, causing a conflictbetween self-interest and the traditional egalitarianism. It appears difficult todevelop and retain “wealth”, while maintaining the psychosocial principles ofegalitarianism. However, many Baka have been developing private cacaoplantations for more than three decades. At the same time, some also continuelong-term hunting and gathering activities. Hence they are struggling to adapt tothe market economy without giving-up the hunting and gathering lifestyle. Thispaper describes and analyzes new relationships between Baka hunter-gatherers andmigrant merchants, who play multiple roles in commoditizing the local economy,and concurrent Baka autonomy from their traditional patrons in neighboringfarming society.