Meet Kombe Pierre, Baka traditional dancer
Baka music is produced by clapping of hands, beating of drums and chorus singing with alternating vocal sounds. As their voices pierce through the forest in a rising crescendo, Kombe (fondly called Kotto) would emerge and take the stage. This time, the drums have grown louder and his arrival is greeted by ululations by women. Kombe would dance as if his back has no bones. Kombe is known throughout the 21 villages surrounding Lobeke National Park and beyond for his dancing skill.
Kombe, who situates his age in the neighbourhood of 30 years, says he started dancing when he was five, a trade he learned from his uncle who was also a great dancer. “I was then initiated into the “booma” (a society common to the Baka). I have been dancing since then. I danced when the Prince of England visited Lobeke. I have also been dancing during important events during the visit of tourists,” states Kombe.
Through dancing, Kombe has become a popular figure within the locality. “I am originally from Yenga Village but I moved to Mambele (neighbouring village). I am known everywhere, from Moloundou to Salapoumbe and even throughout the Boumba and Ngoko Division. I make money during such occasions that is usually shared among my Baka brethren,” he adds.
While Kombe earns part of his living from dancing, he says the money he makes cannot sufficiently cater for his wife and four children. “So, I have to work to provide for my family since dancing is not every day. I was integrated in the team involved in the project for the semi-habituation of gorillas in Lobeke National Park. I monitor gorillas regularly and try to make them friendly to man. I have been engaged in the activity for the past four years. As we speak, I am from the forest with the WWF team,” Kombe says.