Airdate: Apr 18, 2012
Scientist: Louis Sarno
The Bayaka: Boyobi
Before embarking on a hunt, the Bayaka must first convene with the spirits of the forest.
The Bayaka - Boyobi
Music, Ambiance: Boyobi Music
Right now it's net hunting season for the Bayaka people who live in the forest of the Central African Republic. But before the Bayaka go on the hunt, they need to convene with spirits of the forest. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
American Louis Sarno has lived with the Bayaka people since 1985.
"In order to go net hunting the Bayaka need to obtain permission from the spirits of the forest. These particular spirits are called Bob. In order to obtain this permission and the blessing of the Bob, the women must sing and the ceremony is called Boyob. There are special Boyobi songs, the women sing these songs usually at night to the drumming by teenage boys and if they sing well then you get these Bob entering the camp. The Bob take different forms. Sometimes they look like bushes or tree trunks. Other times when there is no moon they are glowing. They have these glowing skeletal shapes that probably come from a bio-luminescence mold. These Bob enter the camp, dance to the music, interact with the women, ask the women why they have been called in. The women will say we called you because we want some meat. We are hungry. And so the Bob will say sing, sing. If you sing well, we will give you our blessing and so the music will go on often for half of the night and sometimes it will even resume again for an hour or so early in the morning. After the music is over, either they go to sleep if it was at nighttime or if it was in the morning, then immediately go hunting."
More on the Bayaka people of the Central African Republic in our next program. Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation.