Songs from a forest in danger

October 12, 2003

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From October 19th, English audiences will be enjoying the wonderful music of a group of Aka 'Pygmies' from the Central African Republic (CAR)*. What audiences may not realise, is that these beautiful sounds come from a people whose way of life is threatened with destruction.

The forest of the southern CAR, from where these performers come, has in the last three years been a corridor for a succession of murderous militia armies, as power has changed hands in the capital, Bangui. They have cut off the Aka from swathes of forest, and so from the animals and wild produce they need to survive.

Although a fragile peace has been restored to the area, the Aka, like all of the 'Pygmy' peoples in Central Africa, are under threat. More and more of the forest is being depleted by logging companies, while huge areas of good forest have been turned into parks or wildlife reserves that are guarded by armed thugs who beat up the ‘Pygmies’ and drive them out of their ancestral hunting grounds.

And yet the ‘Pygmies’ are the real guardians of the forest. As their proverb explains: 'We Aka love the forest as we love our own bodies'.

Stephen Corry, the Director of Survival International, the organisation for tribal peoples says: 'What is happening to these people is not some kind of inevitable doom; it is a crime, and must be resisted.'

For more information call +44 (0) 20 7955 6696. For photos, call Miriam Ross on +44 (0)20 7687 8734 or email [email protected] (For information on the tour contact the venues below.)

* They will perform at the Barbican, London (19 Oct.) Royal College of Music, Manchester (21), De Montfort Hall Leicester (23), and Leeds University (24).