ITURI STORY. Wakati wa Vita – Part 9

baba and bekah
John and Rebekah in the forest. Rebekah almost 6 months old. The hunting net strung behind them.

After more than two years in Epulu, we still started each morning with a face wash at the river. For a few minutes the morning was just the river: the cool feel of it against our faces, its white riling around boulders mid-stream. In March the water was low and its rapids were brilliant with morning sun. Downstream, the mist rose between islands, streaked by shafts of light.

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ITURI STORY. Crossing the Forest – Part 8

Musilianji and Sarah in forest - 1981
Sarah and Musilianji in the forest near Palais before her Elima.

The rains started early in 1982. They were daily and they were heavy. In the village, for some women, the rains were a time of minimal work. Long afternoons with only sombe to pound. For others, like Azama, without a husband, with a lazy brother and with children to feed, there was a long line of chores to complete before the afternoon rains. Not only did the rice and peanuts have to be weeded, not only did enough manioc have to be harvested so that no one went to bed hungry, but the palm nuts had to be boiled and pounded for oil and mangongo leaves collected to patch up the leaks in the roof.

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ITURI STORY. Dead and Preserved — Part 7

The 1982 Elima
Musilianji, second in line, as Elima dances through town.

A short obituary for Patrick Putnam appeared in the Explorers Journal in 1954, a year after his death. (winter/spring edition, Explorer’s Club, NY). James Chapin, the author, had introduced Patrick to the all-male and smoky New York Explorer’s clubroom in 1929. Who then could have foreseen the path of that wired, young Patrick?

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ITURI STORY. Putnam’s Palais – Part 6

Reading to Sarah Palais
Sarah and friends “read” by our new Palais home. Sarah looking at her friend, Kole.

The first days at our new home (parcelle) were sheer delight for Sarah and Basisionoko. He spent more time at the door of his kitchen laughing with the children than tending his beans. By contrast, the Station with its military pretensions was sterile. Gossip with guards was no comparison. From first morning light, there was a clutch of Mbuti children Sarah’s age and slightly older on the parcelle. They came down to wash their faces at the river. Sarah hauled out her horde of books and her two dolls. The tree hyrax came along, too.

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