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Airdate: Apr 19, 2012
Scientist: Louis Sarnof

The Bayaka: Glowing Spirits

The Bayaka: Glowing Spirits
Glowing spirits visit the Bayaka's nighttime ceremonies.

Transcript:
The Bayaka - Glowing Spirits

Music; Ambiance: Boyobi Music

JM: In the forests of the Central African Republic, it's net hunting season for the Bayaka people. Before the hunt, Bayaka women sing to invoke the spirits of the forest, the Bob. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. American Louis Sarno has lived with the Bayaka since 1985. He describes the Bob as mysterious luminescent figures that come late at night to dance to the Bayaka's music.

LS: "These bob that come in that are glowing, they have all kinds of incredible designs. Some of them are like animals. Others look like no earthly creature."

JM: So, what are the bob, really?

LS: "I think it's the men who go off and prepare themselves with certain rituals and I think the women know as well but it is never something that is mentioned aloud. The women are frightened of the Bob, of these spirits because they are totally unpredictable and they do get quite wild. They will rip apart huts. They can be very dangerous. I have sometimes seen some of these Bob in which I would have sworn was some kind of four legged animal just from the way it moved. I one time saw it was in the full moonlight which is quite bright in the rainforest. One that seemed to transform itself into an antelope in front of my eyes. I was not the only one who saw it. Everyone did. It was so lifelike that I was convinced that they had captured an antelope and let it go. It kind of pranced by in front of me at a very leisurely pace. By then when it passed me and got to the side of a house it turned back into this leaf colored figure. I don't know how they managed to cause these effects but you begin to see things that you afterwards think could not have been possible.

JM: Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner