Category Archives: photography-cultures-Africa

Photographs describing traditional cultures of Africa, mostly the daily activities. Text describes the circumstances (when relevant), and specific information on the activities. Links are given on additional information that can be found on the internet, and some bibliographical information is given.

INDEPENDANCE OF THE CONGO, JUNE 30, 1960.

Festivities for independence of ex-Belgian Congo, now Democratic Republic of the Congo, at Ikela (Equateur Province). The musicians are Mangbetu from Northeast Congo, the men with spears and plaited shields are local Kela of the Mongo linguistic group.

Festivities to celebrate the independence of the Congo, June 30, 1960 at Ikela in Central Congo. The Belgian Congo became the Republic of the Congo, later Zaire, and now Democratic Republic of the Congo. Festiivités pour célébrer l´indépendance du Congo le 30 juin 1960 à Ikela au Congo Central. Le Congo Belge devint la République du Congo, ensuite Zaire, et maintenant République Démocratique du Congo.

Festivities to celebrate the independence of the Congo, June 30, 1960 at Ikela in Central Congo. The Belgian Congo became the Republic of the Congo, later Zaire, and now Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Festiivités pour célébrer l´indépendance du Congo le 30 juin 1960 à Ikela au Congo Central. Le Congo Belge devint la République du Congo, ensuite Zaire, et maintenant République Démocratique du Congo.

Festivities to celebrate the independence of the Congo, June 30, 1960 at Ikela in Central Congo. The Belgian Congo became the Republic of the Congo, later Zaire, and now Democratic Republic of the Congo. Men playing slit drum (idiophone drum). Festiivités pour célébrer l´indépendance du Congo le 30 juin 1960 à Ikela au Congo Central. Le Congo Belge devint la République du Congo, ensuite Zaire, et maintenant République Démocratique du Congo. Hommes jouant du tambour à fente (idiophone).

Festivities to celebrate the independence of the Congo, June 30, 1960 at Ikela in Central Congo. The Belgian Congo became the Republic of the Congo, later Zaire, and now Democratic Republic of the Congo. Men playing slit drum (idiophone drum).
Festiivités pour célébrer l´indépendance du Congo le 30 juin 1960 à Ikela au Congo Central. Le Congo Belge devint la République du Congo, ensuite Zaire, et maintenant République Démocratique du Congo. Hommes jouant du tambour à fente (idiophone).

Festivities to celebrate the independence of the Congo, June 30, 1960 at Ikela in Central Congo. The Belgian Congo became the Republic of the Congo, later Zaire, and now Democratic Republic of the Congo. Men dancing, with spear and plaited shield. Festiivités pour célébrer l´indépendance du Congo le 30 juin 1960 à Ikela au Congo Central. Le Congo Belge devint la République du Congo, ensuite Zaire, et maintenant République Démocratique du Congo. Homme dansant, avec lance et bouclier tressé.

Festivities to celebrate the independence of the Congo, June 30, 1960 at Ikela in Central Congo. The Belgian Congo became the Republic of the Congo, later Zaire, and now Democratic Republic of the Congo. Men dancing, with spear and plaited shield.
Festiivités pour célébrer l´indépendance du Congo le 30 juin 1960 à Ikela au Congo Central. Le Congo Belge devint la République du Congo, ensuite Zaire, et maintenant République Démocratique du Congo. Homme dansant, avec lance et bouclier tressé.

Festivities to celebrate the independence of the Congo, June 30, 1960 at Ikela in Central Congo. The Belgian Congo became the Republic of the Congo, later Zaire, and now Democratic Republic of the Congo: men blowing horns. Festiivités pour célébrer l´indépendance du Congo le 30 juin 1960 à Ikela au Congo Central. Le Congo Belge devint la République du Congo, ensuite Zaire, et maintenant République Démocratique du Congo: hommes jouant des trompes.

Festivities to celebrate the independence of the Congo, June 30, 1960 at Ikela in Central Congo. The Belgian Congo became the Republic of the Congo, later Zaire, and now Democratic Republic of the Congo: men blowing horns.
Festivités pour célébrer l´indépendance du Congo le 30 juin 1960 à Ikela au Congo Central. Le Congo Belge devint la République du Congo, ensuite Zaire, et maintenant République Démocratique du Congo: hommes jouant des trompes.

 

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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.

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Woman setting up Esoko fish traps in swamp forest.

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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…

PEOPLE OF THE WATER: THE LIBINZA OF THE ISLANDS OF THE NGIRI RIVER, DEMOCRATIC REPUPLIC OF THE CONGO – Part 1: THE ISLAND VILLAGES.

(part 2 will be: THE WATER)

Anthropologist Pierre Van Leynseele invited in 1970 to photograph the people he studied, the Libinza, on the islands in the marshlands of the Ngiri River, between the Congo River and the Ubangi River, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (then called Zaïre). I spent three weeks with the Libinza in October 1970, first visiting various islands, then staying for about 2 weeks at one island in the village Liketa. Each village consists of several islands linked by channels in swamp grassland which surrounds the islands. Many of these islands were artificially made adding soil to raise emerging sand banks. Beyond the grasslands is swamp forest, also reached by channels.The photographs are from various villages and various islands.

Additional infornation at Download liner notes  from recordings (see discography below).

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Men of Libinza tribe in canoes with village island in background.

THE VILLAGE

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Heavy rain over the village where I spent the last 2 weeks.

Women in the village

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Market day: Women from mailand tribe (not identified) (probably Bodjaba) selling manioc to Libinza islanders

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Girl preparing manioc.

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

Island on a cloudy day, seen from the house where I was staying.

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Woman keeping grubs in dead palm trunk.

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

Young woman preparing grubs for frying. The first time you try it, you close your eyes; but in fact the grubs are pretty tasty.

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Women weaving palm leaves to make thatch roof.

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Girl grooming another girl’s hair.

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Women grooming another woman’s hair.

Music and rituals

Once word got around that I had a tape recorder, I was invited in several villages and islands to record their music.

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Men making mokoto slit drums (idiophones).

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Boys playing drums.

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Boys performing traditional Pongo wrestling to the beat of drums.

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Men playing drums.

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Percussion instrument: struck beam (idiophone) made of a horizontal wooden beam hit by sticks played by several men. It marks the rhythmic base of the musical piece.                                                                                      “L’instrument est une poutre percutée. C’est un instrument que l’on retrouve en Centrafrique, Cameroun, Gabon, RDC principalement. On y frappe généralement le soubassement rythmique  des pièces.” (Rémy Jadinon, Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren, Belgium)

A diviner had visited the island  to cure a woman. He was using Western clothes, using herbs or magical substances, with no drumming or dancing. He invited me to his island to make a demonstration of his full performance in ceremonial dress.

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Diviner dancing to the beat of drums.

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Diviner dancing in ceremonial dress.

We were coming back from another island, almost at dusk. I heard some drumming and I asked my paddler to go there. He asked the woman diviner if I could take pictures; she agreed. As it was getting dark I used High Speed Ektachrone (ISO 160) pushed to ISO 400. Even so the pictures were underexposed. Photoshop (and a lot of work) did a miracle…

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Woman diviner performing a curing ceremony.

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Sunset over Ngiri river.

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I first met Pierre Van Leynseele during my military service in 1959-1960 in the then Belgian Congo where we belonged to the same unit. We must have remained in contact by letters, as later I knew he was studying anthropology at UCLA, where I met him again in 1964 or 1965. After about a year in Los Angeles I moved to New York, where I started selling pictures to book publishers. In 1970 Pierre contacted me, asking me if I wanted to photograph the ethnic group he was studying, the Libinza, in (then) Zaïre, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Pierre Van Leyseele (1933-2009) got his MA in anthropology at UCLA under the direction of anthropologist Daniel Biebuyck, but later it is mostly Jan Vansina who oriented him during his work on the Libinza, His doctoral thesis was directed by Adam Kuper, at Leiden University in 1977. He was an Honorary Professor of the Université Libre de Bruxelles. (Free University of Brussels, Social Sciences).

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Pierre van Leynseele: Les Libinza de la Ngiri: l’anthropologie d’un peuple des marais du confluent Congo-Ubangi: I have not read it, as it is not availabe online of for download (perhaps as a Google Book?) Apparently it is only available at some university libraries. I have been informed that French book publisher L’Harmattan will re-publish it. I have not read anything by Daniel Biebuyk, Jan Vansina or Adam Kuper. The first two are among the main specialists on Central African anthropology.

DISCOGRAPHY

Recordings I made during my stay at the Ngiri River, initially published by Folkways Records, now distributed by the Smithsonian.

Music of Zaïre, Vol. I: Libinza Music of Zaïre,

Vol. 2: Bodjaba, Bamwe, Djamba

Download liner notes   (same notes for Vol. 1 and Vol. 2)

(part 2: THE WATER)

LUBA DIVINERS IN KATANGA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO

(I don´t remember the circumstances of these photographs, taken during my military service in 1959, probably during training or reconnaissance trips. )

This post will be updated after I receive additional information from specialists of Luba culture and religion.

The Luba:

The Luba are a bantu-speaking people. Linguistic and archeological evidence trace early Luba people in the Upemba depression around the 6th or 7th Century (Ehret p. 262, Christine Saidi p.43), later forming what Ehret has called the Upemba kingdom, which later expanded into the Luba Empire, an association of kingdoms, that dominated commerce (iron, copper, salt, ivory) in the south-eastern savannas West of Lake Tanganika in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, trading both with the Portuguese on the Atlantic coast and with the Arabs on the Indian Ocean coast through intermediaries. It declined when Swahili-Arab ivory and slave traders cut trade routes and stopped Luba expansion. Luba territory was incorporateded into the Etat Indépendant du Congo, later Belgian Congo, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Luba world is constructed around the sacred power of the chiefs whose ancestors are revered, the Mbudyie secret society that keeps alive the history of the Luba kings, the Bilumbu diviners who practice while possessed by spirits. Women have a special prestige in Luba society, inclusive as diviners.

The first crossing of Africa from the Pacific (Zanzibar) to the Atlantic (Benguela) was done by Verney Lovett Cameron, commander at the Royal Navy, between 1873 and 1876. He provides us with the first image (engraving) of Luba diviners, in a village near the Lovoi River in the Upper Lualaba watershed.

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I met and photographed men in similar ritual attire, unfortunately not being able at the time to get information on their status or function.

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Luba diviners, Katanga, 1959. The contrast between traditional and Western elements (bycicle, industrial activity in background) is a witness to the resilience of Luba culture.

Luba diviners (alternative terms: medicine-man, or, erroneously, witch-doctor) dancing to the sound of a slit drum in a Kaluanzo, a village in Katanga, Democratic Republic of the Congo (still Belgian congo when the pictures were taken in 1959). (I wish I had been there during the whole ceremony, and had collected information on it)

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Slit drum (idiophone)

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Diviners and drum.

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Diviner.

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Shrine (scanned from faded color print)

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A FEW LINKS ON THE LUBA PEOPLE:

Purchase photographs:  Luba Diviners in Katanga, Congo

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Luba statuette

Wikipedia: Luba People

Wikipedia: The Kingdom of Luba or Luba Empire (1585-1889)

Across Africa  by Verney-Lovett Cameron   (Publication: 1878). (illustration between pp 314/315)  (ebook)

Luba religion and magic in custom and belief, 1961 by W.F.P. Burton  (pobably 1961 edition; original edition: 1939) (Pentecostal missionary)  (ebook)

Les Baluba (Congo Belge), by Pierre Colle, Avec une préface de Cyr. van Overbergh (1913)  Monograph written by a catholic missionary in early colonial times; while the purposes may no longer be accepted, this early detailed description of Luba culture is invaluable (I did not read it but it is cited by all scholars of Luba culture).

Vol. 1:

Vol. 2:     (see plate XII at the end of Vol. 2: “sorcier” = diviner; compare to the 1959 photographs)

Kingdoms of the Savanna: The Luba and Lunda Empires by Alexander Ives Bortolot
(Department of Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University) In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, October 2003.

Luba Art and Divination by Mary Nooter Roberts (University of California, Los Angeles) University of Iowa Museum of Art: Art and Life in Africa

Luba : aux sources du Zaïre. “Exhibition: Paris, Musée Dapper, 25 November 1993-17 April 1994”       Luba : to the sources of the Zaire by François Neyt ; [English translation, Murray Wyllie]               (BOOK, not seen)

reviewed by Pierre Petit  in African Arts Fall 1996, Vol. 29, No. 4: 87+89+96  (Citation | JSTOR)

Luba: Origins and Growth by JOHN C. YODER. Encyclopedia of African History, Kevin Shillington, Editor, Fitzroy Dearborn 2005. (pp 854 – 855)   BOOK

Luba: Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries by PIERRE PETIT. Encyclopedia of African History, Kevin Shillington, Editor, Fitzroy Dearborn 2005. (pp 855- 856)    BOOK

Correlating Linguistics and Archeology in East-Central African History in  Women’s Authority and Society in Early East-Central Africa by Christine Saidi (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2010    BOOK

 

Color image: first 3-color Kodachrome, ASA 12.        4 diviners, black-and-white: scanned 8″ x 10″ prints.        Shrine: scanned faded color print. I de-saturated some magenta, not completely to show that the right half of the object was red.       Statuette: scanned 6 x 9 cm print.

 

PEOPLE OF THE SAHEL – KANEM AND LAKE CHAD

Hello, I started a new category of posts: a series of pictures on one theme. I will initiate with ethnic groups of Africa and South America. Instead of showing the exotic side of traditional cultures, I decided to show everyday daily life and people relationships, as cultures, however distant they may be from our own, rely on those mundane activities in their various forms, which bring all cultures together at the basic survival level. As my photography appeals to the education market, I wrote a short historical introduction, and I give reference to books and links to downloadable .pdf´s and to websites for additional and peripheral information. These images were initially taken with stock photography in mind, but after retrieving them from stock photo agencies I realized that I could make them into a document of life in these regions. There are some gaps in the culture coverage, but this is what I have…  I will also have posts on nature, an occasional post on historic auto racing etc.                                                                                                                   (click on images to enlarge them)

Summary of Kanem history:

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Alifa Ali Zezerti, Alifa of Kanem (referred to as Sultan), with dignitaries, in 1972.

The Sahel is a semi-arid zone of steppe in Africa south of the Sahara desert that makes the transition to the Sudanian savannas, from the Atlantic coast to the Red Sea. It is inhabited by agriculturists and cattle nomads. I will present photographs of present-day people (as of 1972) of the Kanem region and the Lac region (Lake chad). The Kanem region has a long history, briefly summarized here (more details can be found at the links at the end of this post). An earlier civilization, the Sao (possibly represented today by the Kotoko and Buduma) was dominated by the Kanembu (belonging to the Teda-Daza linguistic group) around the 8th Century with the creation of the Kanem Empire under the  Duguwa  dinasty. It became islamised in the 11th Century, when the Duguwa dinasty was replaced by the Sayfawa (Sefuwa) dinasty (which some historians controversially claim cam from Yemen or from Assyria). It established the capital in Njimi in Kanem and in the 13th Century it expanded under Mai (kIng) Dunama Dabbalemi to Bornu, forming the Kanem-Bornu Empire, stretching from present northern Nigeria to Libya, including the Kanuri people, whose language is a close relative to Kanembu. Internal conflicts and attack by the Bulala form the east forced the rulers to move to Bornu in present-day Nigeria. A new capital was built at Ngazargamu. After a period of decline, the Kanem Bornu empire reached a new apogee in the 16th Century under Mai Idris Alawoma, mai (king) of the Kanem-Bornu Empire, under whom Mohammed ben ‘Abd Allah took an oath of obedience to Bornu as King of Kanem. The Bornu Empire had ties with the Ottoman Empire in Istanbul. The Kanem Bornu Empire economy was based on trade to North Africa of ivory, hides, natron (sodium carbonate), ostrich feathers, and mostly slaves.  It declined in the early 19th Century when it had to fight the Fulani from the Sokoto caliphate who started a jihadist war.

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Group of Kanenbu Warriors, in Barth´s Travels and Discoveries in North and Central Africa (1850-1855)

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Engraving in Denham, 1822 – 1824

It had a short resurgence under Muhammad al Kameni, a non-Sayfawa scholar and warlord, who built a new capital at Kukawa to the west of Lake Chad. His son Umar assumed kingship, ending the Sayfawa dynasty. The Bornu kingdom declined under his son´s reigns. It was finally extinct by warlord and slave trader from Sudan, Rabih az-Zubayr, while Kanem declined under attacks by the Wadai (Ouaddai) State. In 1900 a French a military expedition near lake Chad defeated Rabih az-Zubayr who was killed in battle together with French commandant Lamy. The colonial period had started, however the French allied themselves with Alifa (highest dignitary of the Sultan) of Mao, who was the governor of Kanem from Bornu while the Kanem-Bornu kingdom lasted, against the Wadai threat. To this day the Alifa of Mao exerts a strong authority in Kanem, besides the Chadian Government. Alifa Ali Zezerti, shown here, has been succeeded since 2010 by his son.++++++

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Kanem and Lake Chad are inhabited by a mosaic of people, of which I will present two ethnic groups, the Kanembu and the Yedina (Buduma)

THE KANEMBU AND BUDUMA OF CHAD

(Photographs of other ethnic groups will be presented in a future post) I combined in this post two very different people, the Kanembu and the Buduma who, living close together (most Kanemby photographed lived on the islands), have borrowed or are sharing many of each other´s cultural (especially material) elements, thus making a somewhat artificial composite portrait of life in the region. The Buduma, separated from the Kanembu by the waters of Lake chad,  were never part of the Kanem-Bornu Empire, although trade occurred between the two people. They also exhibit cultural elements common in the Sahel environment and possibly defined by it. Because of the similarities and by lack of some images most activities are shown only for one of the groups.

The Kanembu

The Kanembu of Nilo-Saharan linguistic affiliation, live mostly on the mainland. Some live on the islands of Lake Chad. They are ruled, like some of the other groups, by the Alifa or Sultan of Kanem (photograph on top of article); they are moderate Moslems, having adopted Islam since the 11th Century. The Kanembu name is applied to a variety of ethnies, patrilineal clans and lineages, and endogamic castes (including nobles and maskin or poor;  duu or haddad (intouchables) and slaves, some of whom were freed, who speak or have adopted the Kanembu language (slavery was abolished by colonization by the French). “At the end of the nineteenth century, Kanembu society was thus cross-cut by three important cleavages opposing Kanembu vs. Duu, freemen vs. slave and master vs. dependant. (Conte 1979 p. 42)” I was not aware of these divisions when I took the pictures and I am not attempting to classify the photographed people in this mosaic of ethnic/social groups. The Kanembu, traditionally semi-nomads, are presently mostly settled agriculturists, cattle raisers and traders.

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Kanembu man studying the Quran (Koran), writing verses on a wooden teaching tablet. The tablet can be washed and written over again.

The presence of water is of all-importance in Kanem. Wells are dug near villages.
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Kanembu women fetching water across millet field near village: Ngueleydinga.

Each village or town has its market frequented by the various ethnic groups of the region.

Africa, Sahel region, Chad, Kanem. Dromedary camel at market in Ngueleydinga.

Kanem: dromedary camel at market in Ngueleydinga.

Men making a thatch hut in Kanem, Chad, Africa.The Kanembu house is made of thatch from millet straw. It is shaped as a pointed dome, the roof going down to the ground.

Kanembu women

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Islands of Lake Chad. Kanembu woman grooming another woman´s hair.

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Islands of Lake Chad. Portrait of Kanembu woman.

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Islands of Lake Chad. Kanembu fisherman in papyrus reed canoe removing fish from nylon net. Nylon nets were introduced in the 1950s.

Some Kanembu have migrated to the islands of Lake Chad. The island Kanembu borrowed some techniques from the Buduma, such as the papyrus canoe.+++++++ top

The Buduma or Yedina

The Buduma, who call themselves Yedina, pertain to the Afro-Asiatic linguistic family (Chadian subfamily). They inhabit the islands of Lake Chad They are known as having been a fiercely independent people, isolated in the islands. Being fierce warriors and protected by the waters of Lake chad, they were never dominated and were never were part of the Kanem-Bornu Empire (Konrad 2009). In pre-coloinal times they raided lake-side villages for cattle and slaves. They converted late to Islam, toward the late 19th  and early 20th Centuries. They are mostly cattle herders and fishermen. They were originally cattle herders, cattle grazing in the wetlands in the day and gathered at night near the settlement. Millet will be sawn later in the fertilized sand. They also specialized in natron (sodium carbonate) trade across the lake.

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Islands of Lake Chad: Buduma (Yedina) young man milking a cow.

Breeds of cattle on Lake Chad islands. The Kuri cattle are in danger of extinction, by cross-breeding with Zebu cattle of nomadic people.

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Kuri cattle (Bos taurus), a breed of cattle with bulbous horns found on Lake Chad.

Islands of Lake Chad: cattle eating papyrus.

Islands of Lake Chad: cattle eating papyrus.

Both men and women often work in groups. Here, men in the field; below, women pounding millet.
Africa, Chad, islands of Lake Chad, Buduma men weeding millet field with hoe.
Buduma houses differ from Kanembu ones, having reed walls and millet thatch roofs.
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Islands of Lake Chad: Buduma women pounding millet (pearl millet, Pennisetum glaucum).

Fishing was done mostly by lower castes or slaves; the Buduma have adopted fishing with the introduction of efficient fishing tools (fishhooks, later nylon nets) that made fishing an important activity ; however the recent shrinking of the lake and the increased demand from cities (N’Djamena in Chad, Maiduguri in Nigeria) reduced the fish population. Buduma children fishing, one of them using a floating or swimming log (Konrad p. 158)

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Buduma boy carrying fish caught in nylon net in Lake Chad.

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Islands of Lake Chad: Buduma boys removing fish from nylon net (introduced in the 1950´s). They are using as swimming aid trunk of Aeschynomene elaphroxylon (also known as ambatch) a lightweight wood like balsa from a small tree that grows in wet areas or swamps.

Buduma men relaxing in late afternoon, playing the biram harp (or bidel, as I was told?).

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Islands of Lake Chad: Buduma man playing arched harp (bidel or biram?). This type of harp was already know by the ancient Egyptians, and is found among various ethnic groups in Central and in West Africa.

Men drinking tea in late afternoon, reciting prayer using prayer beads.

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Islands of Lake Chad, Buduma tribe: men relaxing, sitting around drinking tea; note Islamic prayer beads.

Personal note: I had hired a canoe, a paddler and a “goumier” (originally soldier of African unit in the French army) provided by the local district chief (chef de canton). We traveled from island to island, spending the night in island villages. According to a tradition widespread in Africa, in each village the chief would give the visitor a chicken. I was given a total o 7 chickens. On one island the chief had no chicken, so he gave me the monetary equivalent, 200 CFA francs, although he certainly needed it more than I did.

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African Sahel: people of Kanem and Lake Chad

Partial zoom of map of the region and its ethnic groups: Ethnographic Regions of Africa (Felix and Meur 2001)

806px_sharp04_zoom map Ethnographic Regions of Africa

The Kanembu, of Nilo-Saharan linguistic affiliation, live mostly on the mainland. Some live on the islands of Lake Chad.

The Yedina or Buduma, who inhabit the islands of Lake Chad, pertaining to the Afro-Asiatic linguistic family (Chadian subfamily).

The Kuri, also living on islands of Lake Chad; one source says they are Kanembu who moved early to the islands and adopted the Buduma (Yedina) language.

The Daza, a subgroup of the Tubu of northern Chad (Nilo-Saharan language) (the Kecherda shown on the map are a clan of the Daza)

The Fulani, Fulbe or Fellata, of the Niger-Congo linguistic family, Atlantic sub-family; the Fulani are cattle nomads in Kanem as in other sub-saharan regions; some have settled and created kingdoms, especially in northern Nigeria.

Chadian (Shuwa) Arabs (Afro-Asiatic family). Chadian Arabic (Shuwa Arabic) is the lingua franca used by all ethnic groups.

The Duu or Haddad, an “intouchable” endogamic caste initially iron workers, artisans and bow or net hunters, which can be attached to any of the ethnic groups.

(I am using the Greenberg language classification. It is still the basis of the work of more recent linguists who may have modified it, but I am not competent to judge their work.)

THE SAHEL TODAY

Three factors have altered the Kanem natural and human environment since 1972. First, a series of droughts, the first one in 1973, have considerably reduced the lake area and forced human resettlements, also increasing ethnic tensions. The reduction of the lake area has occurred previously. One of the main factor is  the excessive drainage of the water of the Chari River which feeds the lake for agricultural irrigation. Climate variations also influenced the level of the lake. In 1972 I reached the islands by canoe. “Unlike in earlier times, in 1990 access to Yedina villages was not by boat any longer but “by horse, camel or four-whell drive car, crossing the dried lake bed between the islands” (Chesley et al 1990)…” in “People of the grasses by W. Konrad, Translator´s introduction. The second factor is the internal conflicts between the Muslim North and the Christian-animist South. The Alifa of Mao was able to keep Kanem mostly outside the conflict zone. And third, the threat of the Boko Haram islamist jihadist insurgency in northeastern Nigeria. The intervention of the Nigerian army may have forced some Boko Haram militants to take refuge in Kanem.+++++++++++ top

REFERENCES AND LINKS ON AFRICA

Purchase images: Africa: people of the Sahel region

Many references (.pdf or e-books) are public domain works, generally published before 1923, as it would have been expensive to buy recent works; some recent publications are however available for free download; their bibliographies should cover most of what is missing here.

Explorers

Denham was a British military officer who had taken part in the wars against Napoleon. Narrative of Travels and Discoveries in Northern and Central Africa in the years 1822, 1823, 1824 by Dixon Denham and Hugh Clapperton
Two fascinating books by German scientists and explorers, Barth and Nachtigal, who traveled in the Sahara and in the Sahel in the 19th Century. It shows how scientists of that time had a holistic range knowledge, including history, ethnology, linguistics, botany, zoology, geology…
Travels and Discoveries in North and Central Africa by Heinrich Barth    Barth published initially 5 volumes; later some of the best chapters were published in one volume (this one). Short contact with Kanembu and Lake Chad in last chapter. Barth did not reach Mao, but according to local accounts it was already a city in decline.
Travels and Discoveries in North and Central Africa: Being a Journal of an Expedition Undertaken Under the Auspices of H. B. M.’s Government, in the Years 1849-1855, Volume 2 (Google eBook) Appendix I, p. 592, bottom: Edris Alawóma Appendix II, p. 606: Account of the eastern part of Kanem, from native information. Shows the precarious existence of Kanem, torn between the States of Wadai and Bornu. Appendix III, Geographical details contained in “The Divan”, or account given by the Imam Ahmed ben Sofiya of the expeditions of the King Edris Alawoma from Bornu to Kanem: p. 637: Fifth Expedition of King Edris Alawoma from Bornu to Kanem: “Mohammed ben ´Abd Allah took an oath of obedience”
Sahara et Soudan by Gustav Nachtigal    Nachtigal was the first explorer to give e detailed description of Mao, the capital of Kanem, in decline as previously noted by Barth, and of the surrounding people.

History:

Chad a country study, Federal Research Division, Library of Congress Edited by Thomas Collelo (Research Completed December 1988), “The online Country Studies are electronic versions of hardcover books published by the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress between 1988 and 1998 as part of the Department of the Army’s Country Studies/Area Handbook Series.”
Kanem-Bornu Empire (Wikipedia)  (The Wikipedia article presents some modifications, especially regarding the early years of the Kanem Empire, although most of the text is identical to the Library of congress publication; some bibliographical references are shared)
Ethnogenesis from within the Chadic State –  Some Thoughts on the History of Kanem-Borno, by Dierk Lange 2011
The founding of Kanem by Assyrian Refugees ca. 600 BCE: Documentary, Linguistic, and Archaeological Evidence, by Dierk Lange, Boston, Working Papers in African Studies° 265.

Kanem, Bornu and the Fazzan: Notes on the political history of a trade route   by B.G. Martin.       Journal of African History, x, i (I969), pp. 15-27         Abstract    (a controversial paper)
« Regards croisés entre deux ports de désert » L’enjeu des sources pour l’étude des relations entre Tripoli et le sultanat de Borno       by Rémi Dewière

Ethnic Groups

Sahéliens et Sahariens du Tchad, by Albert Le Rouvreur.     Kanembou p. 75, Boudouma p. 219, Kouri p. 239, Les Daza du Kanem p. 246, Haddad (the lowest caste among other groups, formed by artisans and bow or net hunters) p. 377. Account from sometimes superficial observations in 1957 and 1958 of the people of Chad, with a special emphasis on material culture.
Kanembu: The name “Kanembu” is given to a heterogeneous group of people; there is some confusion between the definitions or divisions of this group among different authors. Broadly, the Kanembu can be said to be people of various origins who speak the Kanembu language. A further complication is in troduced by Nachtigal (p. 471) who refers to Zezerti (which he spells  Zezirti ), the name of the Alifa of Mao, as the name of a Daza clan.
Survivances précoloniales : les problèmes politiques du Kanem (Tchad) by Esther Rosenkranz. This paper begins with how the author defines the Kanembu, as an assemblage of chiefdoms and clans as an introduction to the privileges attributed by the French colonial authorities to the Alifa of Mao to counter the influence of the other sultanates (especially of Wadai).        ”  … Enfin, parmi les gens de la lance, deux groupes se distinguent,qui sont loin d’avoir toujours entre eux des relations de franche cordialité : les Kogona (i.e. ( les nobles ) qui sont arrivés du Borno avec les Alifa que leur empereur avait délégués au Kanem vers 1640, et les autres kanembou, populations installées antérieurement …” (p. 125 ) … “Avec l’ affaiblissement du Borno et le développement du Ouaddaï, l´Alifa du Kanem changea de suzerain au cours du XVIIIe siècle, mais son pouvoir serait resté entier sur tous les locuteurs du kanembou, sur les Tounjour et sur une partie des Goranes jusqu’à l’arrivée des Français qui l’ auraient confirmé dans son autorité.” (p. 125)
Politics and Marriage in South Kanem (Chad) : a statistical presentation of endogamy from 1895 to 1975, by Edouard Conte (1979). Conte shows how endogamy maintains the distinction between the noble “gens de la lance” (spear people) and the “gens de l´arc” (bow people) who form a lower caste. Both, however, were freemen as opposed to slaves.
Marriage patterns, political change and the perpetuation of social inequality [in South Kanem (Chad)] by Edouard Conte ORSTOM Paris 1983

Buduma
“What do we know about the Buduma ? A brief survey” by Catherin Baroin , Proceedings of the 12th Mega Chad Conference, Maiduguri/Nigeria, 2nd December – 9th December2003. Maiduguri, 477 pp.
“People of the grasses”, Studies on the Buduma (Yedina) of Lake Chad, by Walter Konrad, Maiduguri 2009 (initially published in the 1950s up to 1964) – BOOK

Linguistics

The Languages of Africa by Greenberg, J.H. (1963/1970): Indiana University Press and  Mouton  (The Hague)    BOOK
WEB RESOURCES FOR AFRICAN LANGUAGES    “The main purpose of these pages is to offer easy access to online materials dealing with African languages.”    I will select a few papers from this site:
Afroasiatic Languages    numerous links, map
Origine et expansion de l’Afro-Asiatique: méthodologie pour une approche pluridisciplinaire, by M. ben Hamed, P. Darlu, 2003.    From: Bulletins et mémoires de la Société d’Anthropologie de Paris, v. 15. The authors are looking for a methodology to conciliate the discrepancies between linguistics and other fields, especially genetics, to locate the origine of Afro-Asiatic languages. I find this paper important, not only for pointing the way to the future classification of Afro-Asiatic languages, but also because it shows that science is not static, it is dynamic, relying on eliciting doubts.
Nilosaharan languages     numerous links, map

Arched harp

Reconstructing African music history: methods and results by Roger Blench (ditribution map of arched harp p. 5) PRESENTED AT THE SAFA CONFERENCE, TUCSON 17-21th MAY, 2002

Kuri cattle

A close look at a rare African breed — the Kuri cattle of Lake Chad Basin: origin, distribution, production and adaptive characteristics by CL Tawah et al. – ‎1997 – ‎Cited by 13 – ‎Related articles Jun 18, 1997 – S. Afr. J. Anim. Sci. 1997, 27(2).
Geographic distribution and frequency of a taurine Bos taurus and an indicine Bos indicus Y specific allele amongst sub-Saharan African cattle breeds    by O.Hanotte, C.L.Tawah et al. Genetics among African cattle breeds, showing the taurine origin of Kuri cattle.

Maps

Ethnographic Regions of Africa (Felix and Meur 2001): Felix, Marc Leo. 2001. Peoples of Africa: An Ethnolinguistic Atlas of Africa, map by Charles Meur, Brussels: Tribal Arts s.p.r.l.
Map of Chad    © GEOATLAS.fr
Peoples, States and Cities in Northern Africa ca. 1340 (Ehret)
Peoples, States and Cities in Northern Africa ca. 1550 (Ehret)
Peoples, States and Cities in Northern Africa ca. 1750-1775 (Ehret)

Shrinking Lake Chad

Lake Chad’s Disappearance Leaves A Famine In Its Wake The Disappearance of Lake Chad in Africa

Modern Chad

Le Tchad a perdu un figure historique     Alifa Ali Zezerti, Sultan of Kanem – 1927 – 2010 Survivances précoloniales : les problèmes politiques du Kanem (Tchad) by Esther Rosenkranz
Le lac Tchad et N’Djaména – une relation porteuse de développement ?    by Géraud Magrin et al., L. SEINY-BOUKAR, P. BOUMARD (éditeurs scientifiques), 2010:     Changes in Lake chad area in the last 30 years.
The threat of jihadist terrorism from Nigeria: The Boko Haram Insurgency in Nigeria: A Critical Study of the Movement’s Ideological Posture and Implications, by Muibi O. Opeloye and FISN, Department of Religious studies,Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria

Misc.

For those who want to extend their knowlege of pre-colonial Sahel, Islam and slavery in West Africa: To place the Kanem-Bornu Empire in the context of general pre-colonial African history: The Civilizations of Africa: A History to 1800 , by Christopher Ehret (2002). Perhaps one the most important historical book on pre-colonial Africa, presenting 18,000 years of history (BOOK)
Slavery, Commerce and Production – Essays in the Social and Economic History of the Central Sudan by Paul E. Lovejoy
THE NEW CAMBRIDGE HISTORY OF ISLAM – The Western Islamic World Eleventh to Eighteenth Centuries VOLUME 2, Edited by MARIBEL FIERRO

Sources of links:

Google, academia.edu, Forgotten Books, Scribd, FreeFullPDF, Open Access Library; links from the resulting articles or books.

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Preview:

This post is currently in a preliminary form; more detailed information will be added as I consult the numerous downloads and bookmarks I made while researching  the history of trans-saharan and of sub-saharan Africa. More pictures and more links will be added, so this will be an ongoing project for some time.