The Bayanda Economy  

Let us return to the Congo and its “Relay Economy”.

One of the most amazing occupations involved with the Relay Economy is that of the Bayanda. Bayanda is a Chiluba word meaning “strong men” (singular muyanda – strong man) and the Bayanda are indeed strong.

To find them you just need to drive out on any of the roads that lead out of Kananga. The first thing you’ll see at any time of the day or week, especially in the dry season, is a long line of men and boys pushing bicycles loaded to the top with bags of maize, cassava, plastic drums of palm oil, and even chickens and goats.

With the infrastructure so terrible, most farmers in rural Kasai have no choice between eating the food themselves or giving it away to relatives. This creates a big arbitrage opportunity for strong men (we did not see any women doing this occupation) who push their bicycles out into the bush for a couple of days, load it up for a pittance and push it back to sell in Kananga.

Here are some bayanda in action:

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