Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
Professor Kristin Akerele
January 13, 2011
The Mbuti are pygmy hunter-gatherers, and are one of the oldest indigenous people of the Congo region of Africa. The Mbuti are composed of bands which are relatively small in size, ranging from 15 to 60 people. The Mbuti population totals about 30,000 to 40,000 people. They live in bands or tribes of 15-60 people. The hunter-gatherer Mbuti Pygmies are divided into several sub-groups, each with their own area, language and hunting practices. Each sub-group of Mbuti speak a language of a neighboring tribe. They don’t have a writing system. Aside from their short stature, the Mbuti are also medium brown in skin tone and have curly-ish hair. Mbuti individuals live in bands of 15-60. Exploring the Kinship, Beliefs, and gender relations will help us understand the Mbuti way of life. In northeast Congo, formerly called Zaire, there is a rainforest that lies beyond the reaches of modern society. These people have chosen to stay within the reaches of the rainforest for a long time. The first written history of the Mbuti is Egyptian. The Egyptians called the Mbuti the pygmies or the people in the trees. This was written around 2,500 B.C. (1.Mbuti of Zaire). They have devised methods of gathering food. The men are the hunters and the women are food gatherers. Along with being gatherers they drive game animals into nets that the men are holding. The women also care for the children and build the homes. Since they hunt game, they have to move with the animals. The homes are made of saplings with large leaves covering the round huts. This non-sedentary lifestyle takes less time but allows for a more balanced diet. The non-sedentary lifestyle gives more free time for stories and music. Kinship recognition only becomes important for the Mbuti when choosing a spouse. A Mbuti youth is prohibited from marrying kin on their mother or father's...
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