To know the pygmies IVbis: Pöli

Pöli is the name of a Baka woman who has been extensively interviewed, first by an author, then by a documentary filmmaker.Pöli’s talks, images, stories are still filtered, translated and brought to us by white people. I haven’t seen the movie but I read the book. It feels like a rather truthful transcription, because it kept lengthy and boring stories about how a person was gossiping about Pöli and so on. The book just follows the thoughts and memories of an elderly woman… So nothing spectacular here, which was lovely. It makes me think that reading this brought me a little closer to one Baka, Pöli.

While and after reading it I couldn’t stop myself thinking: what would be the deal? Would Pöli own (part of) the rights to this book? Would she have received a big pile of books to offer or sell? In the text about the documentary I read a shocking detail. The movie is a about a young woman finding the book at the market and departing on a journey to look for Pöli. The text says: Pöli never saw this book.

The book is from 1996, the movie from 2011. And during those 15 years the so-called co-author and the subject of the book has never seen it? That seems really not possible to me, not correct, not respectful, to say the least. It is what happens over and over. Reaching for the last hope, we may think that maybe the filmmaker invented that phrase to make his movie sound more spectacular. Would he?

I haven’t seen the movie, but the trailer looks like this:

Pöli, movie by Jean-Daniel Bécache