A less known problem faced by the indigenous populations in Africa is alcoholism. The easy access to small doses of low-quality alcohol and the necessity to evade a reality which in many cases is extremely difficult aggravate this situation.
In Central and West Africa, a large proportion of the hunters and gatherers indigenous people, who have been robbed of their lands, are remunerated for their work for other ethnic groups with addictive substances such as alcohol. In Cameroon, baka people have been driven from their homes in the forest as a result of logging activities and activities of other multinationals. No han recibido contraprestación por el desalojo, y en muchos casos, desempeñan el trabajo duro para otras comunidades a cambio de un plato de comida o unas dosis de licor al día.
El desahucio de la comunidad pigmea baka tiene como consecuencia no sólo el abandono forzoso de la tierra, sino también estados de depresión e inestabilidad emocional. The poverty and depression caused by the theft of their lands form an explosive combination that leads the Baka people to alcoholism as an escape valve.
No existe preocupación por la situación de los indígenas dentro del propio país y las etnias mayoritarias, como las bantúes, aprovechan esta situación. Las relaciones baka-bantú están marcadas por el liderazgo de los segundos sobre los primeros, considerando a los bantúes como seres superiores y marginando a los pueblos pigmeos. Muchos bantúes son pioneros en el pago con alcohol a los baka, convirtiéndolos en la lacra social camerunesa.
Tanto mujeres y hombres, sin distinción de sexo, acuden de manera diaria al consumo de alcohol como fuente de resolución de problemas. A diario, the surroundings of the pygmy camps are filled with remains of kitokos, small and low-cost plastic bags filled with all kinds of alcoholic drinks of very low quality.
Stack of empty one-dose whiskey bags. The price of each of these envelopes is approximately 0.10 €, making this product easily accessible for everyone.
Alcoholism is causing the emergence of diseases such as Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, in addition to memory loss, high levels of aggressiveness and dependence. The main objective of Bantu people and international companies operating in the area is to silence the Baka people, because a sleeping people is a voiceless people.
If one day the whole jungle disappears, the Pygmy people would have to look for other forms of life and integration in Cameroonian society. For this reason, we work from different organizations for the education of Baka people. The main objective is to ensure the education for all children in the community and thereby combat illiteracy and encourage the empowerment of the Pygmies.
The forced abandonment of their traditional life-model is the starting point for all the problems of the Baka people. Today,they are forced to adapt to unusual conditions and to an unknown life-model, being also deprived of their fundamental rights. Discrimination, enslavement and alcoholism are the result of this oppression. Indigenous peoples are losing the battle against Western culture and against the vertical structure of their own society, which places the Bantu in a superior stratum. Alcohol represents for the pygmies a kind of "bread and circus", with the sole purpose of keeping them away from all the problems that disturb them in their everyday life. Dealing with this dependence, which is becoming increasingly strong among Baka people, can only be possible through education and assimilation of new healthy lifestyle habits.
Baka alcohol-free football tournament
In our effort to combat the problem of alcoholism among the Pygmy populations, always giving priority to the empowerment of local leaders, Zerca y Lejos started in 2014 the the Baka alcohol-free football tournament in Mintom.
In this tournament, young people from all the villages gather for a week to enjoy a football tournament unprecedented in the area. The only conditions to participate in this tournament are attending the training-debate on alcoholism and health promotion and not consuming any alcohol during that week.
The result is the emergence of young people like Romeo, who are examples and drivers of change in their own villages.