Lives Of The Mbuti Tribes Essay

Submitted By emckellar
Words: 2006
Pages: 9

Lives of the Mbuti Tribes
ANT 101

Lives of the Mbuti Tribes The Mbuti are pigmy tribes that live in the Ituri rainforest in central Africa. Pigmy is defined as a group of petite individuals. They live a nomadic life by traveling from campsite to campsite while gathering and hunting for food. According to Turnbull (1985) Mbuti, “generally only move in line ahead because of the narrowness of forest trails” (pg. 6). Thus living in a foraging society and being horticulturist, the Mbuti have very little belongings. They look at the forest as their nurturer who provides them with food and shelter as does a mother and father. Throughout the paper kinship, social organization, beliefs and values will be demonstrated to show how the Mbuti tribe not only survives, but live plentiful lives. According to the article written by Hudita Mustafa; Eisner’s art of Mbuti was a clear picture of how they acquired the things they needed for survival as well as the resources used for entertainment and rituals. The paintings were known as the “Images of Congo”. Before visiting the Congo Eisner had the image created by the Ancient Greek as the Mbuti tribe being a cross between a man and ape because of “their body size, elephant hunting skills, and forest abode were ridiculed and dehumanized as at once comic and naturalistic” (Mustafa, 2008, par 4). When looking at photographs of the paintings drawn on the Mbuti tribes members they resemble the look of savages. If a person has not actually lived within the culture as Eisner did; they may place judgments on their appearance rather than their cultural beliefs. Through Eisner’s quest and sharing the work of her paintings she was able to show people there was much more to the tribe than rough aggressive elephant hunters, and that they are equal members of humanity. In fact, the Mbuti tribes act as one big family and make all important decisions together as a whole. Problems with the Mbuti occur sparingly as they are typically a joyful group of people. When a situation occurs with a fellow tribe member no physical violence will occur. Instead there will be ongoing disputes within the group until an agreement is reached. In extreme situations ostracize may take place for an individual forcing them to live on their own for a period of time. Eventually they are allowed to return to the group. The kinship among the Mbuti’s is strong and revered. The language spoken by most of the Mbuti tribe is Bira, which has been assimilated by neighboring villages. They are well organized in social groups that help them carry out each function for survival. There is no one person who is superior to the other. There are no homeless people within their society. The society is traced through the male descendants, also known as a patrilineal society. Their camps consist of fifteen to sixty people depending on vegetation. Leading a nomadic lifestyle they only produce what is needed for survival because they are unable to store extra food. In the foraging society of the Mbuti tribe, the women produce eighty percent of the food while the men hunt to bring in the remaining twenty percent. The food women gathered consists of nuts, berries, fruits and vegetation. Most cultivated foods are acquired by Mbuti women through reciprocity who in return provide forest products for the villagers. When the tribe is not hunting and gathering they provide outside farming villages labor in exchange for food from their gardens. On another note the forest to the Mbuti tribe was like their mother and father because it provided them with the essentials of life such as food, shelter, and clothing. The belief was that the forest is a living sphere in which each nuclear family lives within. After clearing a patch of undergrowth the tribe will build their huts with the branches, leaves, and sticks found on the ground in the forest. “Their houses are built at the periphery of the clearing, facing a common center where all communal…