It’s not everyday you get invited to a pygmy pool party. In fact, best as I can remember this is the only day in my life I’ve been privileged to attend such a special event. I was in the Central African Republic in the Congo Basin to film forest elephants and western lowland gorillas. On my first morning in the jungle on the way to look for the elephants, we passed a river where a group of Ba’ Aka or pygmy women were bathing and doing laundry. I stopped to take a couple of quick pictures. They immediately lined up and started slapping the water in a way that made it sound as if they were playing drums.
They were laughing and yelling and clearly having a grand time. Next they gathered in a very shallow area of the river and ran towards a partially submerged log, using the log like a diving platform to launch themselves into a series of jumps, and dives, and half flips. The ladies were almost done when I arrived and I also had to hurry on to look for the elephants so I asked if I could come back in a couple of days to take more pictures and that’s when I was invited to the pool party. The real fun began on this second visit as the Ba’ Aka ladies began to show off their fanciest aerial maneuvers, all to the sound of much cheering and commentary from the group.
I also shot some video at the swimming hole which I will will edit into a short piece and post later so you can enjoy the sounds as well as the sights of the Pygmy Pool Party. If you ever get invited to one, don’t miss it.