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Do you ever wonder whatever happened to the characters in the fairy tales you were told as child. . . the ones that would make you feel all warm and happy inside? Somehow these feelings of wonderment seems to fade in direct proportion to responsibility and the aggregation of years. But wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to recapture those faint echoes of magic. . .to bask in Never-Never land again, to climb the beanstalk. . .? You can. . . . . .There's a place a long, long way away, where tree trunks are the size of houses, leaves as big as a roof and raindrops the size of lemons. This is the Ituri Forest deep in the heart of Africa, where, under the giant cooling trees and down by the cascading waterfall you will find the Pygmies. . . a people untouched by outside societies for thousands of years, who live a magical life of laughter and music. So enamoured was Colin Turnbull, the would-be musician/philosopher that when he stumbled across the Pygmies he would conclude his anthropological studies and return to live among them for three years. He shared their laughter, their purity, their hopes, their dreams and their magical and mysterious forest. Throughout his time with the Pygmies, Turnbull was gradiently accepted into their culture. He was welcomed into their village, shared their food, spoke their language and joined in their constant and hearty laughter, even being allowed witness to the haunting beauty of their secret and sacred music. He wallowed in their society - developed over thousands of years and of which is unique to them. There is no need of leaders: this is a society based on democracy and individual accountability. The harshest punishment metered out being hysterical laughter at one's misfortune. Everyone has a station, but it is no higher or lower than its neighbours; this is a true collective bound with happiness and a love of the forest. A forest that is both mother and father, lover and fri end, providing everything that the Pygmies need. For centuries the Pygmies were believed to exist only in legend. Tales of tiny people living deep in the forest who could blend with the swaying bushes and the echoes of rushing water were rampant throughout past history. But the Pygmies are not of fable - though after spending time with these loveable people Turnbull fully accepts how the mystique was created: with their ability to be of the forest rather than in it and with the tallest adult standing just four and a half feet tall - the ingredients for myth are abound. Even though Turnbull's fieldwork was supposed to be a scientific study, he makes note that he was so entrenched in this wonderful world that he would sometimes over-identify with his subjects: sharing their value system, likes and dislikes; but he makes no apology for being enchanted by these people, a society which he believes to be intrinsically good. Not to be singular in his observations, though, Turnbull does acknowledge that there is an element of the imp in the Pygmies, but allows this to be mapped as a twinkle in the eye, rather than malice of deed. The Forest People is a lovely story of a lovely people. Colin Turnbull was part of their everyday lives for three years, a time he says was one of the happiest of his entire life. Travel with him and the Pygmies as they dance through the forest, singing and laughing as they go. Be introduced to some of the most charismatic people captured in literature, that know no malice and have no fear, little people that do live over the rainbow and in the land of giant trees. . . with raindrops the size of lemons. Charming. . .simply charming!
An anthopological study of the Pygmy people of the Ituri Forest, Africa.