A British documentary maker has revealed her shock at being caught up in an explosive tribal conflict in the Congo.
Livia Simoka, from London, admitted she was ‘naive’ about how deep the troubles ran before arriving in Bonguindo, where she stayed for five months with the Mbenejli.
She was shocked to discover their treatment by rival village Bantu, who claim that they ‘own’ Mbenejli families and compared the people to animals who live in dirty squalor.
Livia even witnessed a violent conflict between two men from the rival tribes – and when one man attempted to drag another off into the jungle, she intervened, prompting viewers to praise her ‘bravery’.
Watching the programme, viewers last night admitted they found it ‘harrowing’ but said it had been ‘fascinating and brilliant’ television.
Hailing the ‘refreshing and enjoyable’ documentary, one viewer praised Livia for ‘asking real life questions and fantastic delivery and bravery’.
Another Twitter user said: ‘Very difficult watch but really educational definitely recommended!’.
Also praising her work, another said: ‘This is such an interesting watch, difficult and harrowing at times but overall fascinating.’
Another commenter praised Livia specifically, saying: ‘Extreme Tribe is fascinating and brilliant TV, hosted and narrated by the fantastic Livia Simoka.
Lauren Davies said: ‘What a watch. World away from our lives.’
The British documentary maker stayed in a tiny jungle village called Bonguinda in the Congo while filming The Extreme Tribe: The Last Pygmies for Channel 4, which aired tonight at 9pm.
While the tribes live in a similar area, the Mbenejli live in much smaller houses. And unlike the Mbenejli, the Bantu are not hunter gathers.
Instead, they farm, trade with other villages along the river and have access to modern technology.
Livia was shocked after two months of living in the village when a fight suddenly appeared to break out between two of the men.
The documentary maker watched as one Bantu man, Prince, tried to drag a Mbenejli man, Mondonga, through the village, shouting: ‘I swear he must be killed.’
Other people in the village appeared stunned and tried to hold the men back.
One woman could be heard screaming: ‘I beg you, have mercy.’
Livia revealed: ‘Two people are trying to drag Mondonga into the forest – who apparently “owes the man money”.’
As he tried to drag Mondonga down the jungle path, Prince could be heard saying: ‘I will catch him and taking him somewhere. He should know I’m the bad man.’
Unable to stop Prince, the villagers watch as the Bantu man dragged Mondonga down the jungle path, before punching him in the face.
Mondonga’s wife could be heard screaming: ‘I beg you, don’t beat him. Don’t beat him I beg you. Do you want to kill Mondonga?’
Meanwhile further down the path, Mondonga had managed to escape Prince’s grasp.
Mondonga admitted he had been hurt by Prince’s attack, but said: ‘I have to go the village, but they’ll kill me.’
The group quickly tried to walk back to the village but Livia was stunned to see Prince was also walking back to Bondega, saying: ‘That’s a recipe for disaster.’
Admitting she had no idea what the argument was about, she stood in front of Prince, demanding that he doesn’t escalate the situation further.
She said: ‘Just f****** chill out for a little bit.’
Prince revealed that the issue was about a debt that Mondonga ‘owed’ his brother-in-law Loris, and that he had taken the man’s head torch as repayment.
He said: ‘Mondonga is to blame for many of the problems I have. He has to explain the problems to Loris. Loris lent Mondonga’s son three packs of marijuana and five cigarettes. Mbeneji people don’t pay back very easily.’
And when Livia tried to push Prince on what his plans were with the man, he shrugged, saying he was ‘just going to talk to him’.
He added: ‘I don’t own Mondonga, but he is married to Mosengi and she is mine. I own all of that family.’
Prince revealed: ‘Akaya’s family is directly mine. They are like animals. Look at their houses. Our clothes are clean and theirs are dirty, they can wear their clothes for many days.’
Livia revealed she was ‘so shocked’ by the behaviour of the tribes, and said she has been stunned by the behaviour of the Bantu.
She said: ‘I’m honestly so shocked that someone like Prince can get away with beating people and that it’s a completely acceptable way of life.’
Later, a concerned Mondonga revealed: ‘They want to kill me. They have tried to shoot me with a gun. When I went to collect my head torch he said he wasn’t going to give it to me.
‘He said be careful or I will kill you. He shot at me. I’m going to report it. The problem should be known. I got hurt, my blood has been shed.’
Livia went on to admit she felt ‘quite naive’ about her assumptions that the two villages would be harmonious.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Faith Ridler and Harriet Johnston