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Indigenous People Of The Congo Essay

2688 words - 11 pages

The Congo is the home to a nomadic group of hunters-gatherers known as the Mbuti.

The Mbuti are one of the oldest indigenous people of the Congo region of Africa. The Mbuti

is an egalitarian society, and the band is their highest form of socialization. Bands are based on

principles of teamwork and sharing. The bands are composed of about fifteen to sixty families.

The Mbuti reside in the Ituri forest, a tropical rainforest in the northern part of the Congo River

Basin. The forest is named after the Ituri River. The Mbuti have lived in the rainforest for more

than six thousand years. According to Turnbull (1968), “The first recorded reference to

the Mbuti dates back to a story of an expedition to the area by Egyptians around 2250 B.C.

where the Mbuti were referred to as people of the trees.” The Mbuti see the forest as mother and

father and themselves as its children. The Mbuti life cycle consists of birth, puberty, marriage,

and death. Each transition corresponds with the defining child, youth, adult, and elderly age

groups. Mbuti make three very significant transitions in life from childhood which includes

birth, to youth including puberty, to adulthood containing marriage, and finally old age which

eventually leads to death. The roles and duties found within each age group are important

because personal identity is defined by Mbuti’s role in society.

The term BaMbuti refers to all the different cultures within the Ituri forest. The forest region

has rivers and lakes, and also has a high amount of rain. The dry season is short, and lasts one to

two months. The country’s capital and largest city is Kinshasa which is home to six and a half

million people. The Mbuti existence is harsh many Mbuti die before the age of twenty years old

and very few live to the age of forty years old. The Mbuti once roamed the entire county of

Africa but are now mainly found throughout the Ituri rainforest. Culture and traditions are

important elements that have enabled the Mbuti to live and survive for centuries in the Ituri

rainforest. The Mbuti survival is based on kinships, gender relations, beliefs and values. The

Mbuti life is centered in the Ituri forest. The forest is the Mbuti home, the spiritual core, and the

forest is what sustains them. “Effectively, the Mbuti occupy only the dense forest where the

migration of game and mature of vegetation have alike have been unaffected by outside

influence”. (Turnbull, 1965, p 17). To an outsider the forest may seem quiet but according to

Mbuti the forest is always talking (Moraga, 1996).

The Mbuti are primarily hunters and gathers, foraging for food in the forest. The Mbuti have

knowledge about the Ituri forest and the types of food within the forest. The types of foods

collected includes ants, snails, pigs,...

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