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Ant 101 - Mbuti Culture

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Mbuti Culture

ANT 101

Doni Wacasey

Instructor Lecia Sims

August 21, 2011

Mbuti Culture

 Ituri Forest

The Mbuti is a gathering and hunting society that inhabits the Ituri forest in the Republic of Zaire. They sometimes call it "father" and "mother" (Fabbro, 1978). They are also called Pygmies. They are under 150cm. The staple food the Mbuti eat throughout the year is cassavas and bananas. They also eat other items such as, rice, maize, beans, and peanuts (Tanno, 1976). Both parental and maternal sides of the family are equally treated. The only exception is in the naming of children, the parental side is shown preference. By the end of this paper, you will understand how the Mbuti society lives. I will explain their:

Kinship

Family roles

In-law roles

Marriage

Social Organization

Women and Subsistence exchange

Deforestation

The Commercial meat trade

Mbuti Culture

Political Organization and Religion

Lack of Politics

Religious beliefs

Basically you will understand the Mbuti way of life.

Every article I have read states the Mbuti people from the Ituri forest are, for the

most part a peaceful people. They do not fight wars in or around their territory and they do not involve themselves in wars in other territories. They have no police that keep watch and no one person formally in charge. They do not have a formal political structure; no chiefs; or any council. The elder men of the bands are respected for the decisions they make by the entire camp. They feel the identify greatly with the forest. It provides them with life, gives the shelter, hunting grounds, food, and it protects them from malevolence of people that are not from the forest.

The rain forest is in the drainage basin of the Ituri river. It is in the Congo basin region and is about 1000m and is comfortable for human habitat. It does have swamp regions, vines and other twines. The

Fruits and vegetables that the eat are largely received by trading meat that was caught by nets and other forest products to the villagers. Vegetables are a large part of the Mbuti diet, it is about 70%. They also eat the fruit from lemon, orange, papaya, oil palm and mango. These are grown in their own village so they have constant access to them. They also gather wild plants and fungi from the forest itself.

Their economy is based on reciprocity. They have relationships with other villages, these relationships usually center on trade. The pygmies will provide honey and

Mbuti Culture

meat to the other villagers while the other villagers provide them with plantation items. All of the bands generally share what is needed. They hunt and gather their food. They use nets, bows and arrows for the hunting. The net hunting is done by the entire band including the women and children. The bow and arrow hunting is usually just the family hunting as it only requires two or three men. The is a distinction in the bands that net hunt from the bands that use archery to hunt. In the net hunters bands there is normally approximately 15 huts, but in the archery bands the average is 6 huts.

Mbuti Culture

 Bows and arrows  Foraging implements

The primary tools for gathering are knives, machetes and axes. They also use the arrow heads and spear blade as knives. The gathering is mainly done by the women and children. They gather wild fruits that will compliment the meat the men bring home. This is usually done close to the home while the men travel away from home to catch the meat. Everything that is caught and gathered is divided up between all of the bands so that everyone is able to eat. They move from one territory to another in search of meat and fruits. They have to move because of the destruction of the forest. Logging is responsible for this destruction. This is destroying the wild fruits and berries and the wild animals are moving to other areas causing the people to have to relocate.

Mbuti Culture

The Mbuti people are largely a nuclear family. When a women is pregnant and gives birth, she is usually accompanied by her mother and other close relatives and/or friends. The birth takes place either in the forest or in the family hut. The infants umbilical cord is cut with an arrow point or a knife and then presented to the father. The family then stays in the hut "womb" for several days. The baby is bathed in a sweet smelling water made from vines from the forest then wrapped in a blanket called barkcloth "womb of the forest". (Turnbull 1965b:24; 1978b:170, 175) (Duffy 1978:3)

The extended family is the largest blood-tie group but their family generally consists of family and friends (Fabbro, 1978). The Mbuti mother usually makes

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