The Fierce and the Dead
A look at the beliefs and cultural evolution of the Equitorial forest tribes of Gabon, Cameroon, and Equitorial Guinea.
The forests of Gabon, Cameroon, and Equitorial Guinea are standing stones in time. Like the Pyramids at Ghiza or the steps of Machu Pichu. They tell us a story of beginings and ancient ways of life. They provide an archeological and anthropological look at societies and civilizations of bygone eras. The difference of course being, that while the Pryamids have become an ancient backdrop to a modern world surrounded by the bustling sounds of traffic and the ever growing cityscape of contemporary Egypt. And Machu Pichu is a museum peice to visit, a look into the past that leaves its visitors filled with awe and wonder at civilizations long dead. The Forests of Gabon, Cameroon, and Equitorial Guinea still host the descendants of those eras in much the same way that they always have. The people of the forest, still live in the forest. They still collect its bounty. Grow their food and live there lives in the villages of their ancestors nestled beneath the thick canopy of primordial trees that housed their forefathers.
That is not to say the forest is a bubble, disconnected from the world around it, its inhabitants living in isolation. Quite the contrary; the forest has its doctors and lawyers, its children shuffling off to school, evening and morning traffic in cities like Libreville. The wheels of commerce and day to day life move in much the same way as they do in many African countries. The difference being that a good portion of the people in this region, still live with the same traditions and cultural beliefs that they have had since their ancestors tribes first stepped foot under the canopy.
This paper is intended to show in brief, the history of these tribes, the contemporary cultural landscape, and possible obstacles and changes facing the people of the region, their beliefs and way of life.
Let's begin with an introduction to the people of the forest. According to The Central Intelligence Agency's “World Fact Book” initiative; the forest region is mostly populated by sects of Bantu tribes. Of which the highest ethnic populations are those of Fang, Nzebi, Bapounou, Obamba, and Bubi.(CIA.gov)
As a whole these groups are generally referred to as being of Equitorial Bantu ehtnicity. With exception of the Pygmie peoples of the area the rest of these groups have much in common in their histories. Most of the groups began as hunter and gatherer warrior tribes and actually migrated to the forests from other Sub-Saharan regions. In some cases such as that of the Fang many scholars believe they had to seek a more agricultural way of life when their hunting grounds began to be encroached upon by Colonial and Arab powers. In an article by Stefan Anitei entitled “Who Are The Fang People” (2008). Anitei expounds on this theory by tracing the oral history of the Fang and matching it with other historical...