VANCOUVER, Wash. — Washington State University Vancouver anthropology professor Barry Hewlett recently had his research on the Aka people of central Africa featured in articles in the United Kingdom Guardian and Times newspapers.

For the last 30 years, Hewlett has researched the Aka people. His recent research has focused on the men of the Aka tribe and their parenting skills. A UK charity, Fathers Direct, recently voted the Aka “the best dads in the world.”

Hewlett conducted his research on the Aka Pygmy people of central Africa after he decided to live alongside them to study their way of life. According to the data he collected, Aka fathers are within reach of their infants 47 percent of the time—more than any other fathers in the world.

Hewlett’s research shows that the roles of Aka male and females are exchangeable. “There is a sexual division of labor in the Aka community; women, for example, are the primary caregivers,” he said. “But, and this is crucial, there’s a level of flexibility that’s virtually unknown in our society. Aka fathers will slip into roles usually occupied by mothers without a second thought and without, more importantly, any loss of status—there’s no stigma involved in the different jobs.

“One thing that’s crucial in the raising of the young is the importance placed on physical closeness; at around three months, a baby is in almost constant physical contact with either one of her parents or with another person. There’s no such thing as a cot in an Aka camp because it’s unheard of for a couple to ever leave their baby lying unattended—babies are held all the time” Hewlett said.

The Guardian and Times articles featuring Hewlett’s research can be viewed online at www.guardian.co.uk/parents/story/0,3605,1506843,00.html  and www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,8122-1652100,00.html.

To learn more about Hewlett’s research or other research projects at WSU Vancouver, call (360) 546-9600 or visit www.vancouver.wsu.edu.

WSU Vancouver is located at 14204 N.E. Salmon Creek Ave., east of the 134th Street exit from either I-5 or I-205. WSU Vancouver offers 15 bachelor’s degrees and eight master’s degrees in more than 35 fields of study.