About Pet Sins Webzine
Skip navigation and go to main content
Pet Sins April 2010

The Forest

The Forest (Le silence de la forˆt), a 2003 film from Cameroon/Central African Republic/Gabon, tells the tale of bureaucrat Gonaba, a French-educated Bantu who ventures into the forest territory of the Aka people with the dual 'good' intentions of returning Manga, an Aka man, to his people, and educating the 'primitive' Ba'Aka in the Francophone ways of mainstream Central African Republic. In his condescending idealism, Gonaba fails to see that Manga does not wish to go home to the forest, nor does Manga perceive himself in the mannerGonaba sees him - an exploited and oppressed minority individual.

Gonaba is in for a rude shock when Manga abandons him in the forest. He ends up being rescued and cared for by an Aka community. The government official's assumptions of cultural superiority are turned upside down when he is saved by Aka knowledge and learns the Ba'aka's way of life. Gonaba eventually marries a Ba'aka woman Kali, but despite his apparent acceptance of and integration into Aka culture, his lingering attitude of colonial arrogance undermines his relationship with the Aka community...

Rich in irony but never lacking in humanity, The Forest is an interesting glimpse into cultural differences between African societies with different levels of social organization and technological development.