DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO. NORTH KIVU. OCTOBER 2016. MUTAHO VILLAGE.
Shukuru Ndandi takes shelter from the rain, listening to a radio. The Mbuti, among the first inhabitants of central Africa, are an indigenous group in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with tens of thousands living mostly in the Ituri Rainforest. The Mbuti consider the forest a living entity: they refer to it as the providing “mother” or “father.” Traditionally hunter-gatherers, the entire community participates in obtaining food. Men do much of the hunting, often with bows and arrows, though women and children play a crucial role when net-hunting by herding prey toward the nets. Women and children also do much of the gathering. A non-violent and democratic people, the women generally have authority to resolve conflict within the group. Contact with rebel groups operating in the region, decreased hunting populations and other complications have resulted in many Mbuti relocating to refugee camps and Congolese Bantu villages, where they generally experience persecution.