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African People and Culture Case Study: Model

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Jennifer Ray-Budman

on 23 January 2014

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Transcript of African People and Culture Case Study: Model

African People and Culture Case Study: Model
Efe and Mbuti
Social Organization
Respect for others is important; members are expected to maintain group harmony
Visits to other related camps are used for socialization and marriage negotiations
Children are taught interdependence; all women are called "mother"
Families are nuclear and patrilineal
Marriage is always outside the family but negotiated by the family; sister exchange is common
Divorce is common; women can simply leave and return to their family's camp
Efe and three other Ituri forest groups are known as Bambuti
Customs and Traditions
Age grade ceremony involving male circumcision between ages 9-14
After a death, close family cover themselves with white clay; women organize wailing sessions for a few days
Traditional loin cloths are worn; used clothing is becoming popular
Many stories are centered around animals and traits that they have; Folktales and storytelling about forest spirits and ancestors are common
They have no unique written literature or graphic arts
They make their own nets from vines and use grasses to produce belt pouches, baskets and mats; Stools and chairs are crafted from sticks and branches
Greatest of forest gods, Muungu, supplies all needs
Believe in totemic spirits that bring evil as well as a water animal that is blamed for accidents in the water
Use traditional medicines from the forest as well as magical rituals to control things like the weather or a hunt
Most important ritual is molimo, used for special problems or poor hunting; men perform the ritual for several days in which they represent the voice of the forest
Men are about 4 1/2 feet tall; women about an inch shorter
Part of the "pygmy" groups of Central Africa
Approx. 35,000 live in the Ituri Forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Honey, fruits and nuts gathered from forest
Hunt local animals, reptiles and insects
each clan has a totem animal that they are not permitted to hunt or eat
Fried caterpillars is a favorite

gathering honey
Men: hunt (boys learn bow and arrow at age 3)
Women: gather food, cook, build huts, care for children
Adult Tug-of-War "Game"
why? cooperation can solve disagreements
men on one side, women on the other
As one side starts to win, a member will "switch sides" and talk in the voice of a male or female to mock them. Continues until all members have switched sides to both help and ridicule the opposition.
Laugh that neither side "wins" in defeating the other.
Forms of Government
No chief or formal council
Debate and consensus among members; informal group of leaders
Those who oppose common consent can join another community
Villagers near the forest act as hosts and important allies to pygmy groups
In 1960s, DRC tried to forcibly remove Pygmies from the forest
Political rebellion and civil war in Eastern DRC and neighboring nations have threatened the population
Continue to be impacted by political violence and the fight over resources such as diamonds, gold, and colton
Economic Systems
Traditional hunters and gatherers
Surplus (usually meat, fruits, honey and building materials) is traded with villagers for other food, cloth and tools
Some men and women assist villagers with farming during the non-hunting times

Small animal hunting is done with poison-tipped arrows from the kilabo plant
Environmental Impact
Rains nearly everyday except in January and February; temperatures stay between 70-80 degrees year round
Deforestation has taken much of the traditional hunting land from the pygmies
The rainforest provides the daily needs for these people
Land set aside for national parks also limits access to hunting grounds
Scattered pygmy groups throughout Central Africa differ by language
Many Bambuti languages are almost extinct; Efe or Lese is one language still remaining
Contact with others has led to the common use of other national languages
Both men and women chip and file teeth to a point
Hunting is done with nets by groups of men; women scream and frighten animals toward the nets.
Settlements are simple, temporary camps near a stream; huts are igloo-shaped and made of saplings and large leaves
Enjoy singing and dancing
Geometric designs are drawn with charcoal; scarification is also done
Live along the Equator in the Ituri Rainforest in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo
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