On January 2, one of our most cherished colleagues, Yangozene Kumugo (a.k.a. “Kakoko”) passed away in Mbandaka. His sudden death of cardiac arrest shocked all who knew him, because he was always in such good shape. Yangozene was a vibrant, witty and courageous individual.
A biologist who worked for many years with the Centre de Recherche en Ecologie et Foresterie (CREF), Yangozene knew the forest like the back of his hand and he was serious about his work. He led or participated in bonobo surveys and monitoring in numerous areas, including Lilungu, Lac Tumba, Sankuru, Monieka/Bokote, Samba, Lingomo, Mompono, Ikela and Bokungu. Not only was his work instrumental in identifying and protecting bonobo populations at many sites throughout the habitat, but he also made a positive impact by forging relationships and promoting the vision of the Bonobo Peace Forest with local communities. Everywhere he worked, he made a lasting impression. Yangozene trained trackers at Kokolopori, Lilungu, Mompono, Sankuru and other sites. The loss of our friend is mourned far and wide.
When work was done, he was the life of the party, especially when he was inspired to dance with his signature moves! No doubt he is dancing with the angels now…
In that light, even as we mourn his passing, we believe that Yangozene would like for us to celebrate his life and remember the joyfulness with which he lived it. Even in some of the most trying and dangerous moments, Kakoko could always make you laugh.
God bless his good soul.