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Likouala Community

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 800 people – approximately half of whom are BaYaka hunter-gatherers and half of whom are Bandongo fisher-farmers. 

BaYaka spend much of their time in the forest where they forage for fruits, nuts, tubers, edible foliage, honey, and other foods. They speak Yaka which is a Bantu sub-dialect. BaYaka society is relatively sex and age egalitarian, with limited formal hierarchies. The BaYaka are renowned for their polyphonic singing, traditional healing, and knowledge of the spirits of the forest. Sharing plays an important role in community cohesion. 

Bandongo spend much of their time on the river or at their farms. Bandongo 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. Bandongo 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. 

Research assistant:

Ardain Dzabatou