Pygmies:"The Forest People"
of the Ituri Forest, Eastern Zaire
(now renamed the Republic of the Congo)

Pygmies in the Ituri Forest of ex-Zaire, now the Republic of the Congo, are a group of indigenous peoples in Central Africa that exert a special fascination for people outside their immediate environment. They have lived a long time in an environment to which they alone seem adapted. I worked in Lolwa, a mission station of the indigenous African church which maintains a hospital and health facilities for the pygmies. On my arrival by a light Cessna onto the grass airstrip, hundreds of eyes were looking out furtively from behind the leafy trees to see the "doctor." I found out they were camera-shy, so I put the camera down, and would only shoot a few shots form the hip after going about other purposeful activity about which they were very curious. To see a person, both male and white, carrying a load--which seemed to these women and children among the pygmies to be the birthright or at least burden of their gender and age--was quite startling, so they walked on over into the portrait from the camera sitting on the Toyota land cruiser I was off-loading, the camera having a self timer and autofocus, of which they will remain innocent.