Culture and Gender Through Film
December 7, 2013
The Forests Children- Mbuti
In our worlds history there has been many different types of cultures that have defined entire races of people. Each of these cultures has shaped communities and people into who we are today. One culture that I would like to discuss is the Mbuti Pygmy tribe. Sometimes called “Bambuti,” they are one of several indigious pygmy groups in Africa who can be compared to the Ju/’hounsi. The Mbuti are considered the truest of the “Pygmies” because their average human height is 5 feet 1 inch. They live in the thick Ituri Rainforest of the Democratic Republic of the Congo called Zaire. They have a population that has never been successfully calculated because no official census has been recorded, but missionaries and administer from the area estimate the population to be around 40,000. From this population small nomadic bands consist of 20 to 100 people per group and are stead out over the forest. Their environment is very humid with rivers and lakes and high rainfall but has two months of dry season. In the rainforest, disease can be common and spreads fast not only killing humans but also plants and animals.
In their culture they have adopted to hunting and gathering subsistence because of there demographics. This way of living makes providing food highly unpredictable due to the fact that animals are take time to kill. In this system, men hunt and women gather. The most common animals that are hunted are small animals, deer, wild boar, and the occasional elephant and hippopotamus. Their hunting process is called “Net Hunting,” a group will set up nets in plants and trees that are undetectable for animals. Then, the women and children drive the game towards the nets by making noises and movements. At the nets are the men waiting with bow n’ arrows and spears for when the animal gets stuck in the net. By capturing the animals in nets, it is easier to attack it rather than chancing it down. Once the animal is killed and gutted for its meat, the meat is divided up and everyone in the group is given a share. When meat is not always accessible, gathering becomes a large part of their food supply. Women gather mostly wild fruits, insects and larvae, roots and shellfish. Other than hunting and gathering, their only other method of gaining food is through trade with villagers. Since villages produce plantation products and other goods such as pots and baskets, which the Mbuti are not able to produce, they must trade. They mainly trade honey and meat but also edible mushrooms and medicinal plants.
In the Mbuti social organization they have no main ruler or political organization and only little social structure. Bands are the highest form of organizations and leadership is egalitarian which is represented in their hunting and gathering methods. The only way authority is shown is through hunting treks.
In the Mbuti kinship and marriage, they...