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A Reflection On The Mbuti Tribe

1210 words - 5 pages

A Reflection on the Mbuti tribe
November 15, 2010

A Reflection on the Mbuti Tribe
There are those who welcome and embrace change, and then there are those who do not want change to occur in their lives. Change is not in the vocabulary of the Mbuti tribe of the African Congo region, formerly Zaire. These pygmy hunter-gatherers, also known as the Bambuti, are decedents of Egypt and now a part of a seemingly impenetrable rainforest that lies beyond the reaches of modern society (Ronnei 2008). They are a peaceful people, who find their home, the rainforest, as a sacred place. The use song as a way of rejoicing, and to show devotion to the forest and their home. This devotion is directed ...view middle of the document...

(Ronnei, 2008). As a foraging people, they collect items of nourishment from the jungle floor. An assortment of food from the rainforest can include fish, snails, ants, and larvae. They hunt the larger animals using nets. Driving the wild antelopes, monkeys, and pigs into the nets is their form of hunting. The carrying of bow and arrows is the weapon of choice on the hunt. They choose to only hunt when meat is needed for consumption or trade. When the catch is for consumption, the hunt, done by the men of the tribe, is shared with the rest of the group. As the forest produces the nourishing food and vegetation for their survival, the Mbuti, consider their jungle home the mother and father of the tribe. “They share a belief that the forest is the center of their existence and the source of all that is good in their lives” (Turnbull, 1961). It is a peaceful place to live and is referred to with reverence and adoration. Praise for the forest is done by song and serves as a belief that their song keeps the forest happy and free from evil. These ritual songs extend further to the children and their upbringing in the tribe. The mothers will develop lullabies for their unborn babies. The special songs for the children are used as reassurance, and tell the growing child of the world they are about to enter and their abundance of their forest. Before the children are born to the group, a tribal marriage must occur. The Mbuti follow a patrilineal descent system, where they belong to the father’s lineage. Marriage takes place soon after puberty. In the Mbuti lifestyle, puberty is culminated by the boys leaving the camp to attend a circumcision school. For the next three or four years, the boys live with others their age and are circumcised as a group. Each class is given a name derived from their initiation. Anyone from another class is considered a stranger and they introduce themselves from the name of the class (Turbull 1983). To further the marriage customs of the Mbuti, they practice a sister exchange form of marriage. Bride wealth is not customary and there is no ceremony. When a boy presents the parents of a tribal female with a gift, typically a kill from a hunt such as an antelope, the couple is officially married.
Politically, the Mbuti is an egalitarian society. In this type of society, all the people of the tribe are considered equals. The women have as much say as the men in tribal conversations. Equal power...

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