The Forest People – Colin Turnbull

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Colin Turnbull lived with the pygmies for three years.He was accepted as theirĀ  friend.He spoke their language, listened to their music, attended their ceremonies, witnessed their hunting, their quarrels and their love affairs. His astonishing book brings us closer than seems possible to the pygmies and their forest world. It conveys their love for the forest and their belief that it is better and kinder than the outside world that threatens to destroy it.In the north-east corner of the Congo lies the Ituri Forest,a vast expanse of dense,damp and inhospitable-looking
darkness. Put your finger right in the middle of a map of Africa and it would not be far away. Here is the heart of
Stanley’s Dark Continent’, the country he loved and hated,the scenc of his ill-fated expedition to relieve Emin Pasha, an
expedition costing hundreds of lives and imposing almost un-bearable hardships on the survivors, who trekked across the
great forest not once, but three times, losing more lives each time through fighting, sickness and desertion.
Anyone who has stood in the silent emptiness of a tropical rain forest must know how Stanley and his followers felt, coming as they all did from an open country of rolling plains, of sunlight
and warmth. Many people who have visited the Ituri since,and many who have lived there, feel just the same-over-
powered by the heaviness of everything; the damp air, the gigantic, water-laden trees that are constantly dripping, never
quite drying out between the violent storms that come with monotonous regularity, the very earth itself becoming heavy and cloying after the slightest shower. And above all such
people feel overpowered by the seeming silence and the age-old remoteness and loneliness of it all.But these are the feelings of outsiders, of those who do not
belong to the forest. If you are of the forest it is a very different place. What seems to other people to be eternal and depressing gloom becomes a cool, restful, shady world with light filtering
lazily through the tree-tops that meet high overhead and shut out the direct sunlight-sunlight that drics up the non-forest world of the outsiders and makes it hot and dusty and dirty.Even the silence felt by others is a myth. If you have ears for it the forest is full of different sounds; exciting,mysterious,mournful, joyful. The shrill trumpeting of an elephant or the
sickening cough of a leopard (or the hundred and one sounds that can be mistaken for it), always make your heart beat a little unevenly, telling you that you are just the slightest bit scared,or even more.

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