Fishing trip with BaYaka hunter-gatherers
Updated: Aug 9, 2019
I once went to a fishing trip with people in the camp Ibamba. Everyone in the camp participates in those fishing trips. After taking the path in the forest, we first sat down where women pounded the fruits of Brenania brieyi (they call it “mo.lunju” or “mo.unju”; prefix “mo” is for the singular of a noun, and “ba” is for the plural) and mixed them with ashes to use as fish poison. Then, we walked to the river where women made dams. I followed Ndo as she put the poisonous mixture into the dams and waited for fish to get numb.
At some point when I was filming Ndo in the river, I started sinking in the swamp. Ibamba was located in one of the most swampy parts of the Congo forest I’ve been in, which made it very hard to walk. I began to panic when I realised more than half of my leg was now under the mud. Luckily, my translator Nicolas came to help me. My sandal was stuck in deep mud and it took me a while to get it out.
When Ndo pulled the fishing basket out, there was no fish in it. No one caught fish that day, probably because the fish was locally depleted.
Men at some point left us and went to catch crocodiles. There was a dwarf crocodile waiting for us when we got back to the camp.
Dwarf crocodile © Gul Deniz Salali