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Mobeka lends its speedboat to BANTURIVERS research mission

In August 2023 two members of Mobeka asbl, Peter Lambertz and Emmanuel Makoka, have carried out ethnographic fieldwork for the ERC research project “BANTURIVERS“, based at Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) (p.i. Birgit Ricquier).

The Likau stream after being emptied during the kopepa scoop fishing event. Photo: P. Lambertz, August 2023. BY-NC-ND

The field research took place in the Opala area on the Lomami River. As the road between Opala and Kisangani is impassable, the speedboat from Mobeka was a great help in getting to Opala by water.

It had taken some time to “heal” the rubber inflatable boat from the pains of its journey from Europe to Kisangani: in the heat and tropical humidity, almost all the glued seams had come loose and we had to glue much of it from scratch.

Mobeka’s rib speed boat in the sun glasses of commander Michel near Likau. Photo by P. Lambertz, August 2023. BY-NC-ND

The boat is a small Narwhal inflatable boat with a 40 hp Mercury engine, ideal for river waters like those of the Congo. With three people on board, it reaches 46 km/h downstream and 41 km/h upstream on the Congo River between Kisangani and Isangi (110 km). However, the current of the Lomami being stronger, the average speed between Isangi and Opala (250 km/h) was 37 km/h upstream and 49 km/h downstream. On our way back, 14 year old Hortense was on board, the daughter of Junior, a main interlocutor during the field research. Hortense had to go to Kisangani for a cataract operation, which went smoothly.

Please check out the Banturivers website for the blog post / photo essay by Peter Lambertz on the underwater architecture of scoop fishing (kopepa), and the blog post by Emmanuel Makoka on the crafting of traditional dugout canoes (bwátu) in Opala.

Peter, Emmanuel, craftsman Osumaka and Papa Asoki at the canoe building site in Okongongwa forest near Opala, 19 August 2023. Photo by self-timer. BY-NC-ND.

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