PEOPLE OF THE WATER: THE LIBINZA OF THE ISLANDS OF THE NGIRI RIVER, DEMOCRATIC REPUPLIC OF THE CONGO – Part 2: THE WATER..

(part 1: THE ISLAND VILLAGES) Although the Libinza live in villages, water is ever present. Transportation is by canoe, subsistence is mostly fishing. Since the earlier age children now that water is their environment.

Boys of Libinza tribe playing in canoes. The Libinza live on the islands of the Ngiri River, tributary of the Ubangi River, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Africa.

Boys of Libinza tribe playing in canoes. The Libinza live on the islands of the Ngiri River, tributary of the Ubangi River, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Africa.

The grasslands.

Children of Libinza tribe going to school by canoe, Ngiri river region, Democratic Republic of the Congo (ex-Zaire), Africa.

Children of Libinza tribe going to school by canoe.

A vast area of swamp savanna, artificially managed by fire during the dry season, separates the islands from the swamp forest.
Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ngiri River area, Libinza tribe. Women in canoe in swamp savanna, going to swamp forest to fish and collect drinking water.

Women in canoe in swamp savanna, going to swamp forest to fish and collect drinking water.

Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ngiri River area, Libinza tribe. Woman with children in canoe in swamp savanna, going to swamp forest to fish and collect drinking water.

Woman with children in canoe in swamp savanna, going to swamp forest to fish and collect drinking water.

From the swamp grasslands to the swamp forest.

Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ngiri River islands area, Libinza tribe, girl with baby learning to paddle in canoe in swamp forest.

Girl with baby learning to paddle in canoe in swamp forest.

Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ngiri River islands area, Libinza tribe, girl with baby learning how to paddle in canoe in swamp forest.

Girl with baby learning how to paddle in canoe in swamp forest.

Children in traditional non-literate societies learn by partaking in adult activities. Now children go to school (2nd picture from top) but the traditional ways persist.

Women fishing

Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ngiri River area, Libinza tribe. Woman carrying baby in canoe, removing fish caught in net in swamp forest.

Woman carrying baby in canoe, removing fish caught in net in swamp forest.

Both nylon nets (above) and traditional fish traps are used for fishing.

8a_JNGX0865_COPYRIGHT_sharp-03-150_FLAT-RGB115-blpt3-blue104_8bit_CLEAN_625px

Woman setting up Esoko fish traps in swamp forest.

9_JNGX08549_sharp2-02-116_03-120_COPYRIGHT_FLAT_lasso-midleft-blpt11-blue104_CLEAN_625px_crop_LAST_hue-5

Woman setting up an Esoko fish trap in swamp forest..

Esoko fish trap (Piège esoko). 9b_fish trap_Document FAO_T0537E85_COPYRIGHTIllustration from: Welcomme, R.L., River fisheries. FAO Fish.  1985 Tech.Pap., (262): 330 p.  CHAPTER 7   THE FISHERY (Scroll down to Fishing Gear)

Pierre Van Leynseele: “Le moleke … est une nasse faite de lames de bambou (mbenge) reliées par de la corde de raphia. Le moleke, dont la taille varie, a la forme d’un cône aplati au sommet… Le piège esoko est très répandu dans toute la zone du confluent. Il est fabriqué de Ia même manière que la nasse moleke, mais il est conique, démuni de chicanes et ne mesure qu’une cinquantaine de centimètres. L’ouverture se ferme au moyen d’un clapet de même fabrication, commandé par une corde de raphia. Celle-ci est fixée à une tige souple tendue comme un arc et qui prolonge 1a pointe de la nasse. A l’intérieur de celle-ci se trouve l’appât, un fruit de pa1me, qui est fixé à un dispositif fort précis qui déclenche la fermeture du clapet. L’esoko est utilisé encore maintenant et en très grand nombre, par les hommes et les femmes, à proximité ou dans ta forêt inondée. Les Libinza 1’utilisent beaucoup moins que les gens de la Haute Ngiri comme les Bamwe, Djando ou que les gens de la forêt comme les Balobo.” The Libinza have devised a clay pot hearth, which allows cooking in the canoes while in the swamp forest. These hearth pots are also used in the villages.

Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ngiri River area, Libinza tribe.

Clay pot hearth, allowing cooking in canoe. Click on image to enlarge.

Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ngiri River area, Libinza tribe.

The same clay pot hearth is sometimes also used in the island villages. Click on image to enlarge.

Men collecting and drinking palm wine

Africa, Libinza tribe, Ngiri River islands, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Man propelling canoe with pole in palm swamp forest.

Man propelling canoe with pole in raphia palm swamp forest, on his way to collect palm sap

Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ngiri River islands, Libinza tribe. Man climbing raphia palm tree to collect sap to make palm wine.

Man climbing raphia palm tree to collect sap to make palm wine.

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Men drinking palm wine; a man is drinking from a horn.

A rainy day…

Africa, Libinza tribe, Ngiri River islands, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Paddling on Ngiri River under rain.

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End of trip.

I had arrived in the Congo at Kinshasa, and from somewhere upriver (I started taking notes only after arriving in the Libinza region, and I don’t remember the beginning and some of the end of the trip) I went to a Libinza village, Liketa, in Pierre Van Leynseele’s motor boat. He then followed to the groups he studied, leaving me at Liketa. At the end of my stay with the Libinza, I went on a 3-day canoe trip to a town downriver, Bomongo. For some reason I had decided not to travel back through Kinshasa, but instead to go to Bangui in the Central African Republic, from where I would get a flight to Paris and a connection to Brussels. To get to Bangui I had to go first to Impfondo in the Republic of the Congo (Congo-Brazzaville), then under a communist regime, to wait for a boat going up the Ubangi river. Upon arriving in Impfondo I was quickly led to the mission, where the father told me to stay until the boat arrived so as not to be seen, because Europeans were not welcome by the civilian governor (although he told me that there would be no problem with the military commander). So I had a few days of anxiety… I did not look forward to a second experience of the hospitality in an African jail .

Bibliography (2)

Pierre van Leynseele: Les Libinza de la Ngiri: l’anthropologie d’un peuple des marais du confluent Congo-Ubangi: now found only in university libraries, will be published by Éditions L’Harmattan.

The future…

The WWF has plans to establish a reserve    in the lower Ngiri region, which would not take into consideration the highly effective management of the environment by the Libinza (this would be downstream from the region that I photographed and that Pierre Van Leynseele studied); local populations are worried: Equateur – La nouvelle réserve naturelle inquiète les riverains L’ICCN (Institut congolais pour la conservation de la nature) declares: “Il ne s’agira pas de chasser les habitants de leur milieu de vie. Une fois le niveau de conservation amélioré, les gens trouveront du poisson et mangeront du gibier, affirme le responsable provincial. Bien plus, leur condition de vie sera améliorée, des emplois seront créés lorsque les touristes vont commencer à affluer.” So an auto-sufficient traditional culture, with an efficient environment and conservation management that has maintained the habitat for centuries, would be replaced by a culture subservient to the needs of wealthy tourists…

3 thoughts on “PEOPLE OF THE WATER: THE LIBINZA OF THE ISLANDS OF THE NGIRI RIVER, DEMOCRATIC REPUPLIC OF THE CONGO – Part 2: THE WATER..

  1. Pingback: PEOPLE OF THE WATER: THE LIBINZA OF THE ISLANDS OF THE NGIRI RIVER, DEMOCRATIC REPUPLIC OF THE CONGO – Part 1: THE ISLAND VILLAGES. | Jacques Jangoux´s JungleView blog

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