Mbuti Culture

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  • Topic: Mbuti, Sociology, Pygmies
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Mbuti Culture


ANT 101: Introduction to Cultural Anthropology

The Mbuti or Bambuti are one of several indigenous pygmy groups in the Congo region of Africa. Their language belongs to the Central Sudanic subgroup of the Nilo-Saharan phylum.1 After researching the Mbuti culture, I think we will see that their government, traditions, and culture is slowly and sadly melting into the surrounding, changing world.

Mbuti’s primary mode of subsistence is Foraging. They hunt and gather food from the forest, and they trade as well for survival. The Foragers, or hunter-gatherers, in modern-day Zaire have survived with a subsistence lifestyle in small-scale societies.

Political organization-Bambuti societies have no ruling group or lineage, no overlying political organization, and little social structure. The Bambuti are an egalitarian society in which the band is the highest form of social organization. Leadership may be displayed for example on hunting treks. Men and women basically have equal power. Issues are discussed and decisions are made by consensus at fire camps; men and women engage in the conversations equivalently. If there is a disagreement, infraction, or offense, then the offender may be banished, beaten or scorned. No chief or formal council has imposed rules. 1

Kinship of the Bambuti tend to follow a patrilineal descent system, and their residences after marriage are patrilocal. However, the system is rather loose. The only type of group seen amongst the Bambuti is the nuclear family. Kinship also provides allies for each group of people. 2

One of the Mbuti’s social problems is interclan disputes, over children and women. Women migrate to villages, losing close to one out of five of their female population. An uneven number of women lead to the inevitable transfer of women from one family, to another. This leads to great conflict between the men, over the disposition of their female siblings.

“Divorce is common. The women...
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