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Factors Impeding Social Service Delivery among the Baka Pygmies of Cameroon

Journal article
Authors Ngambouk Vitalis Pemunta
Published in Journal of Progressive Human Services
Volume 30
Issue 3
Pages 211-238
ISSN 1042-8232
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Public Health Epidemiology Unit
Pages 211-238
Language en
Keywords Modern development; management of services; indigenous development; indigenous peoples; epistemic violence; epistemic decolonization; reflexivity; social work; Baka Pygmies; orientalism; human development
Subject categories Other Natural Sciences, Psychology, Other Social Sciences, Political Science, Social and Economic Geography, Sociology


Conservation organizations, missionaries and the State of Cameroon have put the indigenous hunter-gatherer Baka Pygmy people of southeast Cameroon at the limelight of devel- opment interventions that often do not reflect their needs and aspirations. Despite these benevolent initiatives, the indigenous Baka Pygmy people have remained on the margins of Cameroonian society. This paper attempts to answer the ques- tion: Why has service delivery been challenging to this popula- tion? The paper argues for a vision of people-centered ‘‘friendly’’ as opposed to economic development ‘‘as an act of aggression’’ or an exercise in epistemic violence that prioritizes conservation instead of people and that refuses the Baka’s right to develop- ment on their own terms. The factors stalling development and negatively impacting on the Pygmies’ quality of life include – the Bantu’s dominance of relations with Western(ity), Orientalism and paternalism that refuses the Pygmies freedom of choice and the right to be different. The paper suggests that epistemic decolo- nization, justice and reflexivity in the practice of social work will improve social service delivery among the Baka Pygmy.

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