Sunday marks another day for Britain's high streets to cash in on consumerism with the purchase of Father's Day DVDs, books and greeting cards. We've even seen £1,000 laptops advertised as a suggested Father's Day present.
Keeping in mind that this Sunday is a celebration of fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society, we want to bring you something closer to the heart of paternity.
Survival International, the only organisation working for tribal peoples’ rights worldwide, have 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 stories accompanying the touching pictures explain some of the extraordinary relationships tribal fathers can have with their children, such as the Ba'Aka 'Pygmy' fathers who spend half the day with their babies and can even offer a nipple to suck when the child is crying, or how Yanomami fathers in the Brazilian Amazon take their boys on hunting trips from the age of five.
Survival International work with hundreds of tribal communities and organisations, funded almost entirely by concerned members of the public and some foundations.
Take a look at pictures showing tribal fathers with their children, curated and written by author Joanna Eede:
Father and son Mongemba and Indongo from the Ba’Aka ‘Pygmy’ tribe. Amongst the Ba’Aka, who live in the Republic of Congo and Central African Republic, fathers spend approximately half the day near their babies. They even offer them a nipple to suck if the child is crying and its mother – or another woman – is not available. It is not uncommon to wake in the night and hear a father singing to his child, says Professor Barry Hewlett, an American anthropologist who lived with the Ba’Aka for years. For decades Pygmies have been the victims of landgrabs in the name of conservation, as well suffering from the consequences of mining, logging and palm oil development. There are currently plans to mine iron ore in the Tridom region of the Congo basin. This will bring in railways and a huge influx of laborers, further destroying the livelihoods of thousands of Baka and Bakola Pygmies.
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. Although most Waorani now live in permanent settlements, other groups remain uncontacted in and around Yasuni National Park. ‘We feel like we are disappearing’, Waorani spokesman Ehenguime Enqueri Niwa told Survival. ‘For centuries the Waorani have defended their territories, but now the biggest threats are oil exploration, loggers and miners. What will happen to our children when they’re bigger? Where will they live?’ The Waorani were first contacted in the 1950s by American missionaries; Enqueri’s father was one of the first members of his tribe to meet the missionaries.
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. The Bushmen took the Botswana government to court. In 2006, following an international campaign by Survival International, and in a landmark victory for tribal peoples the world over, they won the right to return home.
More pictures and stories in the slideshow below: