The Baka people, known in the Congo as Bayaka (Bebayaka, Bebayaga, Bibaya), are an ethnic group inhabiting the southeastern rain forests of Cameroon, northern Republic of Congo, northern Gabon, and southwestern Central African Republic. They are sometimes called a subgroup of the Twa, but the two peoples are not closely related. Likewise, the name “Baka” is sometimes mistakenly applied to other peoples of the area who, like the Baka and Twa, have been historically called pygmies, a term that is no longer considered respectful.
The Baka people are hunter-gatherers, formerly called Pygmies, located in the Central African rain forest. Having heights of 1.52 meters (5 feet) in average as well as a semi-nomadic lifestyles, the Baka are often discriminated against and marginalized from society.
The tropical rain forest in Gabon, Central Africa where some of the Baka reside
They reside in south-eastern Cameroon, northern Gabon and in the northern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. In Congo, the Baka people are otherwise known as the Bayaka. Some Baka are also found in the Southwestern African Republic. Although, the Baka people are located throughout the Central African rain forest, they are mainly concentrated in Cameroon as the Baka community of Cameroon represents roughly 30 000 individuals.
The Baka are a semi-nomadic people, like other hunter-gatherers such as the Bagyeli and the Twa. However, they are slowly becoming a more sedentary people due to the intensive deforestation of the Central African Rainforest. Pressures from their taller and more dominant neighbors, the Bantu, have also slowed the Baka people’s mobility.
The Baka have successfully maintained their language, also called Baka. Unlike their neighbors’ languages (Koozime, Bakoum and Bangandou) which have Bantu roots, Baka comes from a different language family, Ubangian.