In 1952 Hugh Tracey undertook one of the major recording fieldtrips of his career as a pioneer in the research and documentation of African music. He re-visited Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda where he had been in 1950, and went further on into Rwanda and then eastern and northern Congo, going as far west as Libernge near Bangui. In the Congo Tracey went to the eastern and northeastern edges of the great Ituri rainforest, where Mbuti Pygmies came out of the forest to barter meat and honey for manioc and other products with the Nande, Bira, Mangbele and Budu – all Bantu peoples who lived on the edge of the forest. He became an immediate admirer of the dignity of the pygmies, but was troubled by the relationship he encountered between the Nande, Mangbele, and Bira and the Mbuti Pygmies because the Bantu were taking advantage of the pygmies, cheating them and ‘ordering them about like unpaid servants.’
The Budu, however, were far more respectful towards the Mbuti, recognising that the Mbuti had lived in the forest long before they arrived. Tracey makes no comment in his fieldnotes about mistreatment of the Mbuti by the Budu. He was fortunate to be invited to a large party/gathering at Chief Baonoko’s village where he recorded the music heard on the “Historical Recordings by Hugh Tracey” CD (SWP009/HT03), ‘On the Edge of the Ituri Forest’. To hear 30 second clips of this music and view the entire Historical Recordings by Hugh Tracey CD series go to www.ilam.ru.ac.za/hr.php
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