The video clip below shows Louis Sarno talking about meeting forest spirits in the rainforests of the Central African Republic, and is part of a series of video interviews with Louis that were recorded in April 2012.

Bayaka believe in a divine creator, Kumba, who created the world and then retreated. Bayaka life in the rainforests is intimately connected with many different types of spirit, many of which must be propitiated for ecological and social wellbeing. Some spirits, such as bobé, appear in leaf form, sometimes even glowing in the dark. Some spirits, such as the women's Lingboku spirit, are heard but not seen. Other spirits are believed to be present in birds such as owls. In this clip Louis Sarno talks about meeting spirits in the forest.

In the recording below, the rich pulse of the rainforest soundscape at night can be heard, at a time when most of the Bayaka in the camp at Likumbi are sleeping. Visiting West African Wood Owls in the nearby forest, with their eerily humanlike call, prompt Owsa, a woman in the neighbouring hut, to engage them in a dialogue. The Bayaka believe that these wood owls are sorcerers and are always up to no good. Owsa accuses other Bayaka, who left the camp to return to the village the day before, of sending the owls (ékungu) to camp because of certain grudges.

Sound Galleries

Musical torchlit trails at the Pitt Rivers Museum

On Friday November 23rd 2012, the galleries of the Pitt Rivers Museum were plunged into evening darkness and bathed in Bayaka music and sound from the Central African Republic. Visitors were given torches to explore the galleries that were transformed into a rich forest soundscape with sung fables, snatches of laughter, beautiful variations on harps and flutes, and the stunning polyphonic singing of Bayaka women. Hidden surprises included mini projections from the rainforests and a visualiser designed by Nathaniel Mann, the PRM's Embedded Composer in Residence. The evening was filmed By Mike Day of Intrepid Cinema as part of the Reel to Real project, and complemented the Oxford City-wide Christmas Light Night organised by Oxford Inspires. A four hour playlist of Bayaka music from the PRM's sound collections, originally recorded by Louis Sarno, was curated on the evening by Nathaniel Mann and Dr Noel Lobley. The event was streamed online, and was watched live in the Central African Republic by Louis Sarno and some of the Bayaka community.





Copyright 2012 The Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford