by Rachel Ogbu
Today, Sunday marks the International Father’s Day event and to celebrate we have brought you theses captivating photos by Survival International.
The organisation is the only one of its kind working for tribal peoples’ rights worldwide.
In the project, Survival International has curated a collection of photos giving a rare insight into the lives of tribal fathers, from the Awá tribe in Brazil, to the Mursi in Ethiopia and the Dongria Kondh in India.
The Waorani people of the Ecuadorian Amazon are known as ‘The fathers of the jaguar’, as their shamans receive help from adopted jaguar ‘sons’, who ensure that forest game is kept close to humans. The Jaguar appears to a shaman in his dreams, revealing that he wants to adopt the man as his father.
The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains in northern Colombia form the world’s highest coastal range; the snowy peaks that tower over cloud-‐forested slopes are sacred to the indigenous Arhuaco people. The Arhuaco have lived here for centuries; they call themselves the ’Elder Brothers’, and believe that they have a mystical wisdom and understanding which surpasses that of others. Mamos are the Arhuaco’s spiritual leaders, and are responsible for maintaining the natural order of the world.
Training to become a Mamo begins at a young age and continues for around 18 years; a young man is taken high into the mountains where he is taught to meditate on the natural and spirit world. ‘What I do is interact with Nature, and that is why I dedicate myself to the study of ancient wisdom’, said Mamo Zäreymakú. ‘My father used to do the same work: to preserve the balance in Nature, to converse with her. I, as a Mamo, represent all living beings.
A Bushman grandfather. Today’s Bushman tribes are genetically closer to the ancestors of all of us than anyone else; yet they are also amongst the most victimized peoples in the history of southern Africa. Between 1997 and 2002, many Bushmen were forced from their homes in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) and taken to eviction camps outside the reserve.
Karapiru, an Awá father, smiles at the camera at his home in Maranhão state, Brazil. His expression belies the trauma he has endured at the hands of invaders to his ancestral lands. After witnessing the massacre of most of his family by karai, or ‘non-‐Indians’, Karapiru fled into the rainforest where he remained on the run, in solitude, for ten long years.
A Yanomami father and child in a hammock made from banana tree fibers. From the age of five, Yanomami boys accompany their fathers on hunting trips. They learn to shin up trees by tying their feet together with liana vines and practise hunting small birds with bows and arrows. ‘Sometimes the hunters would also call me at daybreak when they left for the forest’, says Davi Kopenawa, a spokesman for the Yanomami people. ‘I went with them and when they killed small game they would give them to me. That was how I grew up in the forest.’
A Mursi man stands with his cows next to a smouldering fire in the lower valley of the Omo River, Ethiopia. Cattle are the Mursi tribe’s most treasured possessions. Agro-‐pastoralist peoples have lived with their cattle along the Lower Omo for several thousand years. Today, however, the Mursi and other tribes’ homeland is threatened by the construction of Gibe III, a massivehydroelectric dam, and by the leasing of vast tracts of tribal land to foreign companies and individuals in order to grow and export biofuels, cotton and food. The dam will block the southern part of the river, so ending the Omo’s natural flood cycle and jeopardizing the tribes’ flood-‐retreat cultivation methods. ‘When we had a lot of flood water in the Omo River we were very happy’, said a Mursi man. ‘Now the water is gone and we are all hungry. Please tell the government to give us back the water.’