Territories of Life Films being dubbed into indigenous langauges

Ade, Baka youth dubbing Territories of Life films into Baka language.

During September 2018, LifeMosaic worked closely with Okani, a community based indigenous organisation working to support the Baka and Bagyeli indigenous peoples of Cameroon. The work was to adapt relevant sections of the Territories of Life toolkit into Baka and Bagyeli languages for use by indigenous peoples in Cameroon. This work aims to bring appropraie information about land-use changes and their existing rights to Baka and Bagyeli communities, expanding their visions of self-determined development and their capacity to conserve their customary forests.

A large group of Baka and Bagyeli people took part in the translation and dubbing work, with representatives from all dialect areas. The translation took the group around 2 weeks and involved numerous deep discussions about the nuance and deeper meaning of hundreds of words such as ‘development’, ‘self-determination’ and ‘territory’. Baka language is rarely written down and most of the translators had limited experience of writing or reading in their language. Using the International Phonetic Alphabet as well as a 1,000 page Baka to French dictionary that had been the life work of French missionary, Robert Brisson, they were able to succeed. Each translator painstakingly hand wrote each script which was then typed up using a software for International Phonetic Script.

The films dubbed  into both languages were:

  1. Benefits of Territory describes the benefits of secure land rights, for communities, the environment and wider society.
  2. Land Grabs explains the drivers and impacts on communities of the global rush for land.
  3. Company Tactics exposes some of the tactics companies use to obtain community lands.
  4. Women Champions of Buffalo River shows how Maasai indigenous women in Tanzania used awareness raising, protests and political pressure to lead a powerful movement in defense of their territory.

17 Baka and Bagyeli community facilitators were also trained in the use of the Baka/Bagyeli Territories of Life resources and wider facilitation techniques. Training included how to use the resources, technical training, planning screenings in communities, capturing outcomes and monitoring, and approaches for facilitating discussions. Specific topics included facilitating community discussions on the impacts of land grabbing and the tactics that companies use in order to claim community lands from forest communities in Cameroon. It also included topics of cultural resilience, food security, women’s rights, conflict avoidance, biodiversity protection, forest governance, climate security and self-determined development.

USB sticks were replicated in-country and given to Okani and the teams of translators/dubbers. Each stick contained the 4 films in Baka and in Bagyeli languages, the radio versions of the 4 films in Baka and Bagyeli languages and the Facilitators guide for community screenings (in French). They also contained a further 15 LifeMosaic films (dubbed into both French and English) about indigenous peoples in relation to: community forests; community organising and strategies for defending rights to land and forests; climate change; long term visioning and self-determined development, oil palm plantation expansion, mining exploitation etc. Versions that were usable on mobile phones and small screens were also exported and trialled.

Over the next 3 months, Okani and the Baka community facilitators team plan to carry out community screenings in 11 communities to test the films and approach. Followed by implementing a wider dissemination plan to raise awareness and unity in Baka villages. They also aim to initiate discussions on the impacts of land grabbing and strategies for increasing community organising.

Both Baka and Bagyeli community facilitators are also planning to use the audio versions of the films to make better use of the Baka and Bagyeli slots on the community radio stations.

Community screenings are already starting, with the first happening in the Baka village of Mayos. The community have requested a series of further screenings and facilitated discussions to focus on the over use of their community forest and strategies that they might use to tackle this. Many thanks Synchronicity Earth for supporting this work and to Minirig for donating one of their excellent mini speakers which will be used by Okani throughout the ongoing work with the Indigenous Baka and Bagyeli peoples of Cameroon.

Watch Baka versions of the Territories of Life films here

Watch Bagyeli versions of the Territories of Life films here


Related Project:

Land Grabs and Land Rights

The Territories of Life toolkit is a series of 10 short videos that share stories of resistance, resilience and hope with communities on the front-line of the global rush for land. These videos, available in English, Spanish, French, Indonesian and Swalhili and are currently being disseminated widely by community facilitators.


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