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. In return for the eviction, in many cases, they receive several doses of liquor per day.
The eviction of the Pygmy Baka community results not only in the forced abandonment of their land, but also in states of depression and emotional instability. 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.
Among the pygmy population, most adults consume high doses of alcohol to cope with daily life. The community drink to forget the problems and to avoid dealing with the difficult circumstances of their environment. Cameroon does not seem to exist on the international map and nobody seems to care about improving the living conditions of the local population. There is also no concern about the situation of indigenous people within the country itself. Baka-Bantu relations are marked by the leadership of the latter over the first, considering the Bantu as superior beings and marginalizing the Pygmy peoples. The Bantu are pioneers in paying the Baka with alcohol, turning them into the Cameroonian social scourge.
Both women and men, regardless of gender, use alcohol in order to solve their problems. Every day, 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.