The CCP Congolese field site lies deep in the heart of the rainforest, in the Likouala region of the Republic of the Congo. The local climate fluctuates between rainy and dry seasons, and can be characterized as equatorial monsoonal. The research station is located in a small village, only accessible by boat, that is home to roughly 600 people – approximately half of whom are BaYaka hunter-gatherers and half of whom are Bondongo fisher-farmers.
BaYaka peoples spend much of their time in the forest where they forage for fruits, nuts, tubers, edible foliage, honey, and other foods. They speak “Baaka” which is a Bantu language. BaYaka society is relatively sex and age egalitarian, with limited formal hierarchies. The BaYaka people are renowned for their polyphonic singing, traditional healing, and their knowledge of the spirits of the forest. Sharing plays an important role in community cohesion.
Bondongo peoples spend much of their time on the river or at their farms. Bondongo peoples fish using nets, hook-and-line, spears, and baskets. Their crops include corn, cassava, and various fruits. Traditionally, they spoke “Bondongo” but there has been a very recent shift to “Lingala”, both of which are Bantu languages. Bondongo society contains many formal hierarchies, including village leadership positions. They are adept navigators of the local river system, which requires a deep sense of balance and knowledge of various shortcuts and fishing spots.