Mbuti Pygmies Bands
Instructor: Justine Lemos
10 April, 2011
Mbuti Pygmies Bands
The Mbuti Pygmies are a peaceful people living life as they have for several thousands of years in Ituri forest in the Congo of Africa. Their numbers have been estimated between 30,000 to 40,000 all living throughout the Congo. Although their way of life has changed since their discovery by modern man, they cling to what is true in their hearts. I was surprisingly amazed how the bands of Mbuti families’ simple daily activities provided for all their essential needs for the families and the tribes. The Mbuti cultural traditions are still practice as they were before interference by the outside world. In this paper I hope to provide a insight into their lives by examining their kinships, social organizations and gender relations within their bands and/or tribes. By showing how the Mbuti simple life style provides happiness and fulfillment in their culture, upon reflection of our own culture much can be learned from the Mbuti Pygmies. The Mbuti people are forgers meeting their basic needs by hunting and gathering for their survival. Mbuti people that resided in small, self-sufficient, mobile groups called bands. Band socioeconomic life is based on the exploitation of the local flora and fauna. Foragers move over their land year after year, knowing where all the prime locations are for the foods and water needed not only for basic survival but to thrive (Nowark & Laird pg 50). The Mbuti have been successful as foragers living off the abundance of the rain forest and what it has to offer. The Mabuti have been able to maintain their way of life even during turmoil and war that has plagued the Congo. The lost of valued hunting ground and destruction of their forest by the encroaching civilization surrounding them have been challenging, but the Mbuti have preserver. Mbuti unlike many earlier primitive societies did not live in large tribes, but smaller units called bands. The family units or also known as kinships normally consisted of mother, father, sibling, children and grandparents all normally of the father’s kin. The classificatory kinship nomenclature just outlined, however, is not restricted merely to the band in which one is a resident. Since marriages are by rule virilocal and tend to be exogamous as to the band, the members of any particular band possess grandparents, parents, siblings, and children in other bands. And even when postmarital residence is contrary to rule, as sometimes occurs when individuals or families join or visit another band, the newcomers are automatically classified within the group's existing web of kin ties. In addition, any member of a band who is so joined or visited is entitled on that basis to return the stay and be similarly incorporated back into the newly created relatives' home band (Mosko pg 903). Although Mbuti live in bands verses tribe, in many incidents other married brother bands live close in the event large numbers are need to defend against aggressors these kin will bring their bands together to defeat or challenge others. Although the Mbuti are peaceful people, conflict does occur. To briefly touch on the importance of how kinship is in managing conflict. The Mbuti have no organized structure, in the event one band of Mbuti are challenge or attack by another or external factors most often bands that share kinship come together to protect or defend one another. Due to the size of bands being small number of people living together allies are required to defend hunting grounds, land, etc... In most instances this was done by calling on other bands composed of kinships of the women of the bands, this was most commonly done by arranging marriages with women of other bands. The social organization of bands was essential in the expansion of the bands. In order to expand bands and prevent intermarriage among kin, in most cases marriage were arrange to unrelated men...
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