Wamba Diary #1
After one week in Kinshasa for Toda and a few days for me, staying in Sainte-Anne (a catholic church serving as hostel), telling missionaries that we study bonobos, stopping by the Ministry of Scientific Research and visiting Lola ya Bonobo Sanctuary, we finally left Kinshasa on Wednesday morning. First stop: Djolu. The flight from Kinshasa takes about 4 hours and is operated by MAF, an American missionary company which flies primatologists in the middle of the forest to study the origins of human evolution... The flight gave us an amazing view: 360 degrees of forest –reassuring to see. We landed without problem and had a welcoming committee waiting for us, including Nahoko Tokuyama (post-doctoral researcher at Wamba) with whom we could exchange a few hugs and sentences before she took the same 9S-EMO plane back to Kinshasa after 6 months in Wamba. Men gather to carry the 550kg of luggage, equipment, material and food that we brought with us –pushing bikes on foot for 80km of sandy trail until Wamba. We reach Djolu village by motorbike, drop our bags at the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) station and visit a few houses for formalities, the DGM’s to give some money and register our presence in the locality, the colonel’s to have some foufou and matembele, and Djolu’s office’s to greet the chef de bureau. Tired of our journey, we go to bed early but this was without expecting there would be a football game… PSG-Real Madrid. We probably had the biggest supporters of those teams united under the same roof that night. Next morning, we go to Djolu’s local market to get a few more stuffs like soap, garlic and slippers, and participate in an interview with Radio Bolombo –AWF’s local radio raising awareness among local populations regarding deforestation. Finally, we are set and get off with two motorbikes and one rally champion –Jean-Marie. Four hours later, here we are, Wamba! I arrive with Jean-Marie first. On the way, many hands waving at us. While waiting for Toda and Feli to arrive, I meet Mr Nkoyi Batolumbo, the first bonobo tracker who started with Prof Kano at the early stage of the project back in 1973. Together with many others, we look at the July 2017 National Geographic issue about Antarctica… A captivated audience to say the least. Then, Toda arrives like a local superstar and put his forehead on many other foreheads, and so do I. We unpack most of the boxes, pay our helpers, settle down in our new mud house and look forward to the forest and the bonobos the next day…
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