AFRICA/CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC - The life of the Bayaka Pygmies in the Monasao mission: between the parish, school, forest

Tuesday, 18 April 2023


Monasao (Agenzia Fides) - In Monasao, a small mission in the diocese of Berberati, the dry season has arrived, which for the Bayaka Pygmies is the most favorable time for hunting, staying in the forest and looking for food. "In addition to the classic hunt with nets, traps, spears, what the forest offers most at this time are termites - writes Father Michele Farina who has been living with the Bayaka for over a year in what is the first mission of the Society for the Italian African Missions (SMA) in the country. The missionary priest explains that the Bayaka leave their village early in the morning to go in search of termites, "the children with their mothers, often the whole family. Staying there for a few days is like really being at home" for them . Termites are eaten prepared in a sauce to accompany the classic cassava and some coconut leaves, or they can be cooked on their own and preserved".
But the missionary also underlines the negative aspect of this coincidence with the beginning of the dry season, which strongly penalizes the pupils of public schools. "In December, between the national holiday and the Christmas holidays, the pupils of the public school, about 1,500 of them, will have been present for 10 days, and in January, they only resumed on January 16. On the other hand, our children from the ORA school, which follows teaching methods adapted to pygmy children, accompanied by their four teachers, only took 10 days off, to resume regularly on January 3. Among our activities, Among the activities carried out we spent a day in the savannah, a few kilometers from Monasao, looking for kutu, very hard clods of earth formed by termites. They live in a kind of mound of earth that takes the shape of a large mushroom which we will then use as a basis for a stone path, which we want to build around the church of Monasao".
Father Revelli also recounts an event that he describes as extraordinary. "One day we drove five people from Moansao to Nola, where there is a hospital, to have hernia surgery; some had been waiting for almost a year. When the car left the parish , family and friends were present. This is one of the many services of our Health Center (see Fides, 16/2/2023), which offers the possibility of reaching Nola by car, crossing the river in a canoe to get to the hospital for treatment. On Saturday, they came back from the operation, delighted, as if they were on holiday!
Regarding the parish journey, recent activities in Monasao have focused on singing together. "Our course director and confrere, Father Davide Camorani, organized a meeting for all the choirs from our villages," says Father Michele. The participants, who often came on foot, were accommodated in the mission and slept in so-called 'temporary huts'. "There was a completely empty room where people slept on mats. The guests were provided with water containers for washing and meals were organized for everyone. "About 60 people sang and prepared together for the Sunday celebration which they created together with our fantastic dancers: it was a party!” concludes the Italian missionary. together, animated by all of them and by our fantastic dancers: a party (AP/MF) (Agenzia Fides, 18/4/2023)