Pygmy Pool Party

Jumping for Joy - Photograph by Boyd Matson

By Boyd Matson

Listen to Boyd tell the tale of the pygmy pool party on National Geographic Weekend (3:50)

[audio:|titles=Pygmy Pool Party]

It’s not everyday you get invited to a pygmy pool party.  In fact, best as I can remember this is the only day in my life I’ve been privileged to attend such a special event.  I was in the Central African Republic in the Congo Basin to film forest elephants and western lowland gorillas.  On my first morning in the jungle on the way to look for the elephants, we passed a river where a group of Ba’ Aka or pygmy women were bathing and doing laundry.  I stopped to take a couple of quick pictures.  They immediately lined up and started slapping the water in a way that made it sound as if they were playing drums.

beating the water like a drum

They were laughing and yelling and clearly having a grand time.  Next they gathered in a very shallow area of the river and ran towards a partially submerged log, using the log like a diving platform to launch themselves into a series of jumps, and dives, and half flips.  The ladies were almost done when I arrived and I also had to hurry on to look for the elephants so I asked if I could come back in a couple of days to take more pictures and that’s when I was invited to the pool party.  The real fun began  on this second visit as the Ba’ Aka ladies began to show off their fanciest aerial maneuvers, all to the sound of much cheering and commentary from the group. If you ever get invited to one, don’t miss it.

aerial posing


what will the russian judges give this one?



NG Weekend Boyd Matson hosts National Geographic Weekend, a weekly radio program. Visit to find out where you can hear the show.

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Meet the Author
Benjamin Shaw produces the weekly radio program National Geographic Weekend with host Boyd Matson. Hear it on on XM/Sirius satellite radio (XM channel 133 Sundays at noon), subscribe to the iTunes podcast, or get the show streamed to your iPhone, Blackberry, Palm, or Android OS phone with Stitcher Radio.