This story excerpt was translated from French. To read the original story in full, visit Kis24.info. You may also view the original story on the Rainforest Journalism Fund website here. Our website is available in English, Spanish, bahasa Indonesia, French, and Portuguese.
Living by gathering: it makes you think of a prehistoric time. However, even today, in order to have access to certain products, the forest peoples of the Democratic Republic of Congo must be satisfied with gathering and collecting. For these peoples, the forest does not only offer wood; there are also products called "non-timber forest products (NTFPs)," which are very useful for human life.
Among the most prized NTFPs in the DRC are Ngadiadia (or kadika), Kola nut, Murondo, Ndehe, tonga, mabongo, bombi, fumbwa…
In urban areas, they are appreciated for their nutritional and medicinal virtues or for special uses. As the demand for them becomes greater and greater, they are also becoming rare due to many factors. Danger of extinction, in the short or long term, looms due to the pressure on these species in the forest. How can we prevent this threat of extinction?
"More than 95% of consumers are men, almost adults," confided a woman in her twenties, who sells Tangawisi-based tea mixed with ngbako and ngongolio, at the Ouagadougou traffic circle in the Kindya neighborhood in the city of Bunia, the capital of Ituri province, located in the northeast of the DRC.
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For her, the reason for the masculinity of her clientele is clear: "My customers are only men because it gives male strength and eliminates fatigue. Aphrodisiac virtues that the few women, who consume it in public places, do not admit. "I take it, my husband takes it, but it is not for strength in bed. God naturally gave my husband strength. I take it to fight against several illnesses and hip fatigue," explains a shopkeeper who uses it in a sales outlet in Oïcha. Around her, the men who use it also deny that they take it for its sexual virtues. "It only makes the body healthy," they say doubtfully, somewhat embarrassed.
In fact, we are in a society in which everything related to sex is taboo. Moreover, no man can admit that he has shortcomings in bed and that he needs a boost from time to time. It's dishonorable of him.
However, the saleswomen and pickers are unanimous. The sexual virtues are what makes these products sell. One of the sellers of these products on display in the central market of Bunia explains to us the different products preferred by men for their sexual virtues: "Young boys come to look for Akoro, this dust here," she says, pointing to small balls of dust in a bag. "Then they come for this kitamaka," she adds, pointing to dried pieces of stem. "Then this mundongo," she continues, pointing to dried bark, and finally, "They come for this murondo," she concludes, pointing to roots that are somewhat cartilaginous in appearance. Particularly, mature men, over forty, "They come for the Kitamaka, the kadika and the ngongolio," she says.