Thursday, November 8, 2007

Images of peace and security

Visualize peace and security through these images

Wonderful flashes of peace embedded with beauty - the environment on the African continent from A to Z (Source: Unknown)

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Whatever life throws up, we blog about it

Source: Unknown

Friday, November 2, 2007

Forests - biodiversity and habitat

Forests should be protected not only as the home of precious biodiversity but also because forests was and still is habitat for millions of people all over the world. The relationship of man with forest is more than commercial; not only for foods and raw materials for modern commodities or genetic pool for breeding high yielding plants and animals.

Habitat of ancestors: Ancestors as well as related biological species of today's mankind lived and living on the branches of trees, mainly trees of tropical regions with branches full of fruits that could provide food and shelter from ferocious animals on the ground. Fruits and leaves are sources of carbohydrates and vitamins. Herbs and saps of vascular plants are used as medicine.

Forest dwelling indigenous people
As many as 150 million indigenous people live in forests worldwide and rely on the forest for their livelihood e.g. almost everything from food and shelter to tools and medicines. Forests as well as plays a crucial role in people's spiritual and cultural life

The Penan -- Borneo's last nomads have flourished there as nomadic hunter-gatherers for millennia. They smell, hear and see the bounty of the forest--the source of clean water, fruits, wild game and medicines. The Penan, about 10,000, is the most traditional and nomadic of Borneo's tribes. Recent pressure has moved most of them to settle in government-mandated housing and take up agriculture. A mere 400 of them have managed to retain their completely nomadic style of life, while watching their beloved ecological niche transformed into agricultural land after being devastated by logging. The forest is converted into oil palm or paper pulp plantations bringing in migrant labourers from Indonesia, shutting out the local people, who have adapted a modern lifestyle.

Africa -Forest of Congo: The African rainforest is home to some of the most celebrated tribal people, for instance, the so-called "Pygmies" of the Ituri forest in northern Zaire. The tallest of these people, known as the Mbuti, rarely exceed five feet (1.5 m). Besides the Mbuti, there are three other major rainforest peoples of Africa: the Aka (Central African Republic and northern Congo), the Baka (southern Cameroon), and the Twa (central Zaire River basin). Together these groups account for some 130,000 to 170,000 forest dwellers distributed over a large area. The result is low population density; the Mbuti average less than one person for every one-and-a-half square miles.

Mbuti are also called Bambuti. When they establish a settlement, they clear any undergrowth, small trees, and saplings, leaving the canopy-forming trees intact. Under the cover of canopy, the pygmies are protected from the powerful tropical sun and can better harvest such things as honey and game. By leaving the canopy intact, when the group leaves, the area can quickly return to semi-primary forest. Their huts superficially resemble igloos, with a domed latticework formed with saplings and walls of shingled tree leaves.

The Bambuti people of the Congo refer to the forest as mother or father, and hold it sacred, a deity to ask for help and to thank. Bambuti live in the forest but trade with villages, providing bush meat and honey, and acquiring other produce. Egyptian records refer to people in the forests of the Congo 4,500 years ago. And scientists now suggest that at least 10 per cent of what is often regarded as virgin Amazonian rainforest was in fact carefully planted. The people there focused on establishing a diverse assortment of trees: fruits, nuts and palms.

Brazil: The Amazon forest is home to 20 million people including 400 different indigenous groups and the future of the Amazon depends on the future of those that call the forest home. The Brazilian Amazon is home to between 280,000 and 350,000 indigenous people, of which 180,000 live traditionally, heavily dependent on the ancient forest for their sustenance and spiritual and cultural life.

The Yanomami, numbering about 26,000 today are an ancient indigenous people living in the Amazon regions of Brazil and Venezuela in the fertile lands of the Orinoco and Amazon rivers. They are "semi-nomadic, agricultural labourers, or hunters-gatherers."The Yanomami are also known for their close relationship with nature, relying on their territory for subsistence purposes and attributing cultural significance and myths to their surroundings.

The Waimiri Atroari of the Brazilian Amazon use 32 plant species in the construction of hunting equipment alone. Each plant has a specific role according to its physical and chemical properties. The Waimiri Atroari have long held a special place in the Brazilian imagery as a warrior people who confronted and killed any outsiders who tried to enter their territory. The invasion of their lands intensified when a mining company began excavations and when a hydroelectric dam was constructed, which flooded part of their territory. But the Waimiri Atroari faced up to these challenges and negotiated with national Brazilians, so that, today, they enjoy secure reservation boundaries, cultural vigour, and population growth.


And Now... these habitats of the African Pygmies are threatened by rampant logging, forcing the pygmies to begin mobilizing for their survival. We should encourage interforest communications between these groups.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Pygmies using technology to protect their habitats

Pygmies joint venture with logging companies and use GPS systems for monitoring

When Congo Republic's northern pygmies go out into the forest these days, some will be carrying handheld satellite tracking devices (Global Positioning Systems) along with their traditional bows and spears.

Using GPS handsets to pinpoint sacred sites and hunting areas, the nomadic forest dwellers are literally putting themselves on the map to protect their livelihoods and habitat against the chainsaws and bulldozers of commercial loggers.

Through the scheme, northern Congo's Mbendjele Yaka people and the central African country's largest logging company are working in an unusual alliance to ensure the forest areas crucial to the pygmies' daily lives are left standing.

Read more here

Thursday, October 18, 2007

More news about the Plight of the Pygmies

On October 21,2007
A Pygmy delegation from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) met with senior World Bank Group managers including the Vice President for Africa and the Vice President for Sustainable Development, and informally afterwards with President Robert B. Zoellick.
The delegation discussed the implementation status of ongoing forest sector reforms in DRC, and ways in which the World Bank could strengthen its collaboration with local communities and protect the rights and way of life of forest-dependent people, including Pygmies.
Logging and rehabilitation of infrastructure seem to threaten the rainforests - a source of income, food, fuel, medicine, and shelter for their communities. The rainforests also fulfill the cultural and spiritual needs of forest-dependent people, while providing environmental services such as absorbing carbon, the greenhouse gas, on a global scale.
Talk about organizing from the ground up. Only local communities who live issues and challenges can truly share what their experiences are and as such contribute to possible solutions.

245 - Earth's Tree News

"We are going to Washington to tell the World Bank that they must not allow any expansion of the logging industry," pygmy spokesman Adrian Sinafasi said in a statement released by the Rainforest Foundation, which is accompanying the delegation. "We have been stewards of these forests for many generations and to lose them now would be utterly devastating."

The delegation hopes to meet new World Bank President Robert Zoellick, who has said that protecting the environment and indigenous peoples will be two of his main priorities. Since the restoration of peace in most of the former Zaire after a 1998-2003 war, the World Bank has promoted logging as a way of quickly rebuilding the country's shattered economy.

Last week's leaked report -- prompted by a complaint from the pygmies -- criticised the bank for failing to follow its own guidelines on environmental impact assessments, on the verification of logging areas, and on policing. It also accused it of hugely overestimating the potential benefits to the pygmies. The Rainforest Foundation, a charity whose mission is to support indigenous peoples in the world's rainforests, said more than 40 million Congolese depended on the rainforests for their livelihood. "The indigenous `Pygmy' people of the Congo have fought hard to have their voices heard. The recent Inspection Panel report was instigated by these people and the findings have shamed the World Bank," said director Simon Counsell. "Now the `Pygmies' have the chance to meet face to face with the organisation that risked devastating their forests. Hopefully President Zoellick and his colleagues will listen to what we have to say and commit to working with them to protect Congo's forests in the future."
OLYecology weblog -

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Pygmy Music - ethnomusicology

Ethnomusicology, formerly comparative musicology, is cultural musicology or the study of music in its cultural context. Formed from the Greek words ethnos (nation) and mousike (music), it can be considered the anthropology or ethnography of music. Jeff Todd Titon has called it the study of "people making music". It is often thought of as a study of non-Western musics, but can include the study of Western music from an anthropological perspective

In 1992, the popularization of Pygmy music spread with the release of Eric Mouquet and Michel Sanchez's Deep Forest. Though the fusion of New Age spirituality with sampled Pygmy music and soft techno was heavily criticized by music purists, the album was a multi-million selling success. Soon after its release, controversy continued amid accusations that none of the money made from recording was given to the Pygmy performers. Despite the controversy, a percentage of the proceeds from each album were donated to the Pygmy Fund set up to aid Zaire's pygmies.

Pygmy styles include liquindi, or water drumming, and instruments like the bow harp (ieta), ngombi (harp zither) and limbindi (a string bow).

Known musicians wanted to develop a more earthy feel to their music. Herbie Hancock, Head Hunters, "I began to feel that I had been spending so much time exploring the upper atmosphere of music and the more ethereal kind of far-out spacey stuff. Now there was this need to take some more of the earth and to feel a little more tethered; a connection to the earth....I was beginning to feel that we (the sextet) were playing this heavy kind of music, and I was tired of everything being heavy. I wanted to play something lighter." (Hancock's sleeve notes: 1997 CD reissue)
The popularization of Pygmy music also spread with the release of Eric Mouquet and Michel Sanchez's Deep Forest. Though the fusion of New Age spirituality with sampled Pygmy music and soft techno was heavily criticized by music purists, the album was a multi-million selling success. Soon after its release, controversy continued amid accusations that none of the money made from recording was given to the Pygmy performers. Despite the controversy, a percentage of the proceeds from each album were donated to the Pygmy Fund set up to aid Zaire's pygmies.


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Logging increasingly detrimental to pygmy habitat in forests

Aka pygmy habitats threatened by logging

In the late 1980s I had the good fortune to drive through the forest in Central African Republic and interact with the pygmies there.

There was one sedentary village where the pygmies were gathered as there was the hope of sedentarizing them and integrating them into mainstream society.

Pygmies are by nature forest nomads and have been so for hundreds of years. Their division of labor is clear - men responsible for fauna, women for flora. They usually move around the forest, settling in one area until it no longer can accomodate their waste, etc., and move into another area - this is done in a regularized fashion so that when they return to a given area it is usually regenerated and they can live there again.
The Aka “Pygmies” have been named the world’s best fathers, dedicating the most time of all the globe’s peoples to active fathering. For more information read here

That was when the forest was the forest, with trees and animals within, with the music that is known as pygmy music lilting through the atmosphere.

Fast forward to 2007 - the forest is disappearing, many of the trees are cut down, and as such the nomadic nature of the pygmy is forced to undergo a radical cultural change to a sedentary lifestyle, with the attendant disease, lack of sanitation, and other socio-economic issues that they have not had the capacity to understand, much less overcome.

In addition, being different, they are mocked and ridiculed by the larger population and have lost the forest cover which held them intact over the years.

What can be done to help this group of people?

The men know the animals of the forest intimately; the women know the plants of the forest intimately and could treat any disease that might have occurred. Now they are thrust into a sedentary lifestyle without the cover of the forest, they are at a total loss as to how to regain the dignity that was theirs under cover of the forest.

The destruction of a habitat for gentle, non-threatening people is forcing them to undergo scorn, ridicule, hate - they have no idea how to interact with sedentary people, how to do societal work. They kept the forest intact and helped keep us intact. Now that they are thrust into a space in which they have no idea how to behave, they have become the scorned, despite all the knowledge they have about the flora and fauna of the forests, about the plants necessary to treat illnesses - no one is caring about this knowledge. The only concern is how to get them added to a workforce and treat them as slaves and third-class citizens.

Help the Aka pygmy! How? I do not know - maybe someone out there does. Their security assures our security.

Copper Art from the Congo

Peace and Security

Iranian Couple pedaling for peace