Some Baka and Bagyeli families live in traditional mongulus or leaf houses which are built by the community. Home building, like all Baka activities, is a closely coordinated group effort.
The mongulu represents the lowest impact living possible in keeping with most of the Baka and Bagyeli way of life. They are made from flexible young branches and tough, weatherproof leaves from the rainforest. They can be built in about an hour, usually using large leaves of the Ngongo and banana. Flexible withies are pushed into the red earth forest floor and bent and tied together to create an oval, dome-shaped framework. Prepared leaves are clipped, graded and tied into bundles before building begins. Then each leaf is hooked onto the framework.
Mesmerising, singing or ‘Yelli’ creates the rhythm for mongulu building (you can hear it via this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cATZe_jlc9g). When the last leaf in place and the low, arched entrance created, the women move into a circle, dancing, singing and clapping as they celebrate their work.
The rainforest in Cameroon
A Maize plant grown around the village
A banana tree grown at the edge of the villages
Some local crops
The House or Mongulu