Anthro 202

Topics: Mbuti, Colin Turnbull, Ituri Rainforest Pages: 4 (1344 words) Published: March 21, 2013
Deep in the emerald forests of central Africa live the BaMbuti, a Pygmy race having their own unique way of life and culture. This way of life and culture is intricately patterned by their habitat: the Ituri Forest itself. In the 1950s anthropologist Colin Turnbull visited the BaMbuti of the Ituri Forest. He lived among them and did extensive fieldwork which he describes in his book The Forest people. What Turnbull discovered above all else is that the BaMbuti are a people who live by the forest and for the forest.

The Ituri is one of three tropical rainforests that can be traced back to the Pleistocene era. It contains the largest number of plant and animal species of any African forest. While much of Africa’s contemporary rainforest is of a more recent origin, the Ituri existed prior to the last ice age, and even increased its area after the ice age. It is also considered one of the more stable forests in the world in an ecological sense. It is however subject to change due to the influence of humans.(a)

While some societies considered the Pygmies to be legend and myth, it is clear that the ancient Egyptians knew of their existence 2,500 years before the time of Christ: “In the tomb of the Pharaoh Nefrikare is preserved the report of his commander, Herkouf, who entered a great forest to the west of the Mountains of the Moon and discovered there a people of the trees, a tiny people who sing and dance to their god, a dance such as had never been seen before” (The Forest People 15).

The BaMbuti pygmies live in the forest, but more than just living there, they are a part of the forest and the forest is a part of them. The Pygmies Turnbull visited made these following statements in reference to their forest home: “We are the people of the forest. The forest, the great provider, is the one standard by which all deeds and thoughts are judged; it is the chief, the lawgiver, the leader, and the final arbitrator” (125). “When we are the...
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