[Fieldwork] Working with BaYaka kids in Congo (3/7)

I’ve noticed that children’s food avoidances are handled very differently among the BaYaka. For example, children and adults are often afraid/grossed out by giant millipedes (think our fear of spiders). When caterpillar season comes around, children are also afraid of caterpillars, which move a lot like millipedes. Though small children are served dishes with caterpillars, parents often pick the caterpillars out for their kids. And yet, as the kids grow up, they come to love caterpillars! One of my tiny friends, who I’ve known since he was two, use to have me pick out caterpillars from his plate. This year, as a tough four-year-old, he not only collects caterpillars, but also cooks them all on his own–and with pride.

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Caterpillars. We were on the path, walking back from the forest camp when I was told to stop. The young BaYaka boy leading the way said, “Do you see? The caterpillars are going to fall soon here.” I’m spinning around, looking up looking down. I’m sure he’s right, but how does he know!? And there they are. Thousands of little caterpillar pellet poops. That I never in a thousand years would’ve attributed any importance to without him. “We’ll return in a few days.” Both foragers and farmers consumed a ton of caterpillars during the caterpillar season this year. And yep, they’re delicious. #delicacy #congo #explore #taste the #fieldwork #caterpillar #chenie #congos #yuck #butforreal #yum #science #natgeo #research #danslajungle #evolearnlab #explorer #survivalist #huntergatherer #cuisine @she_explores @natgeo @insidenatgeo @sheinalew

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[Fieldwork] Working with BaYaka kids in Congo (2/7)

Children do lots of things that adults do not do. This knowledge is transmitted from one child to the next, across generations. Exhibit A: this young man shows Sarah how he dyes his hair red with flower pollen.

[Fieldwork] Working with BaYaka kids in Congo (1/7)

For the next few weeks, I’ll be posting photos and videos from my recent trip to northern Congo with the wonderful Sarah M. Pope (@sezdoesscience). Sarah is an amazing scientist, but also a photographer, whose captured beautiful images and videos of BaYaka children’s daily activities and learning experiences.

In this video, the children perform their own play version of a dance. Notice that, though all these children are under 12, they are conforming to the gender norms in their culture; the girls sing, the boys drum.

A note on consent: All videos and photos are posted with the explicit consent of the inhabitants of the village where we work.