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Monday, May 11, 2009

from Claudine's diary...the village chiefs

It was hot, very hot after the rain, our pirogue set-off on the Lopori. On board everyone went about their business: Pierrot was writing a report, Titi Ô was sorting through her photos and at the front “Chacal” was singing a hymn as he scanned the horizon looking for a fisherman who had already made his catch.
We were going to meet the chief of Kodoro to tell him about the plans for our camp in Elonda, opposite the area where the bonobos are to be released. We met at Liyaka, the harbour. The local population had been warned of our arrival… The African tom-tom from the 21st century still worked wonderfully! With the help of Pierrot and Yvon, who speak the language of the Ngombe, we went into a lengthy explanation of bonobos, the release project and why we need the camp.

Three great Nkumus (traditional chiefs) were present and announced that the elders where going to go and discuss it. We waited, surrounded by the women and many children. Titi Ô took some photos and immediately showed them the result on the little screen. It was magic! Lots of laughter as they pushed one another out of the way to get a peek at the image. The children, wide-eyed, pointed at themselves bewildered.

The men soon returned to give us the verdict. Some of the more notable members of the population were to accompany us to Elonda to mark off our “space”. Mission accomplished! The meeting ended as I respectfully thanked the assembly and asked Pierrot to thank the Nkumus as well as to buy some palm wine for the assembly in order to seal our deal.

Back at Elonda we marked off the limits for our future camp as well as a location for a little harbour for our pirogues. On our way back, before sunset, I started drawing up plans for the camp. I peeked over Pierrot’s shoulder and saw that he was doing the same thing. The adventure was to continue, the cogs were in motion and everyone believed in it!