André Didier recording musicians, André Didier, CNRS-CREM, CC BY-NC-ND
In the footsteps of the 1946 Ogooué-Congo Mission

In 1947, 70 years ago, the public discovered the first sound recordings of Pygmy music collected in Equatorial Africa by the French ethnomusicologist Gilbert Rouget.

These were recorded during the Ogooué-Congo Mission, a scientific expedition led by the 23-year old French ethnologist Noël Ballif. This mission was the first organised by the Liotard group, a collective of young French explorers from Paris’ Musée de l’Homme.

From July to December 1946, the 12 members of the expedition travelled across the former Middle Congo (the current Republic of the Congo) and Gabon. They spent six weeks completely immersed in Babinga Pygmies tribes from the Haute Sangha region, in the North of Moyen Congo - an experience that turned out to be decisive for some of them.

Whether they are sound recordings, photographs, films, artifacts or scientific studies, the documents collected and produced during and after the Ogooué-Congo Mission allow us to discover their adventure.

Let’s walk in their footsteps...