A Journey to School: Mother and Daughter Perspectives
Yié and her mother Natoume live in Mayos, a community of Baka pygmies in eastern Cameroon, West Africa. Both strongly believe in the importance of an education and serve as roles for their community. Yié is the only Baka girl out of 800 of her peers to attend school, while her mother currently campaigns for the education of the Baka children who live within their community. These are their stories...
My name is Yié. I am 13 years old and I go to school 5 miles from Mayos. I’ve already finished primary school and I am now in secondary school.
I love school and I am proud to go. I like French and all of the subjects. School is good, but I am the only Baka girl in my school. I am a little bit unusual! I have friends there and I am accepted, and when I come back to my village, I feel proud, but I don’t feel better than the people in my village–that is not good.
When I learn things, I feel like my world gets bigger. I learn things like Math, English, Spanish–everything!
When I’m older, I want to be a minister or the president of Cameroon. I want to be the women’s minister, so that I can fight against early marriage and for girls to be able to go to school.
I think it is so important for girls to be educated. Girls get pregnant early, either with boys they know or with older Bantu men. There are girls in this village that became pregnant young and already have babies, and now they can’t do anything with their lives. But if they go to school, they won’t be married off early.
Early marriage is not good. You’ll be insulted by your husband and you will have no future. To fight against early marriage and early pregnancy, these girls must go to school and the boys must be educated, too.
If I were to go to parliament I’d say that they need to support and help the Baka because we are people, too. They need to send us to school and build us schools. I want to fight for Baka girls in the future.
It’s so important for Yié to go to school because at the moment, the Baka have a very low level of education.
If we can go to school, and have the opportunity to go to secondary school it is so much better. My daughter is the only Baka girl in a school of 800 students. It is so important to make sure more Baka girls have this opportunity. Also, for the boys–they need to go to school, too.
I went to primary school, but then I lost my Mother and Father. I had no one to look after me and Plan had not yet arrived here to help. So I stopped attending school in my second year.
I married at 23. But for Yié, I have not even thought of marriage! It is not important–she must study first!
If I hadn’t lost my parents, I wouldn’t have married that early. I would have studied or worked. But many Baka are not like us. There are families at a very low level of education and we want to bring them up to a higher level.
I am the leader of the Baka Women’s Association and part of the community development team in Mayos, and I try to campaign in other communities, too. In the women’s association, we try to save money for pens and books for the children to take with them to school. I also work in the fields.
Women are important in Baka communities–Baka women make the decisions for the family. Even the houses we live in–us women build them. Men go hunting, but the women make sure the children eat, and they look after the household and make sure that everything is okay. We are strong, so it is important that our children are educated because they are the decision makers.
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