March 18, 2013
The Mbuti Cultural Society
Culture can be defined as principles, viewpoints, and various ways thoughts shape and influence people’s behavior. Each society has its own reasoning’s of what works best for their culture. The Mbuti Pygmies Society is one of the several ancient groups of hunters and gatherers living deep in the heart of Africa’s Ituri Forest. Today, the Ituri Forest is as the Congo. This paper will discuss the Mbuti Cultural Society. This paper will also discuss primary mode of subsistence, economic organization and social organization associated with the Mbuti Society.
The Mbuti’s are a nomadic tribe consisting of hunters and gathers that live in small temporary camps in the Congo Rain Forest. As of 1958, there was only an estimated forty thousand Mbuti bands in the Ituri forest. They are called “Bamiki Bandura”, which means “The Children of the Forest”. The forest provides them with materials for shelter, clothing, and food. The forest is essentially the foundation for their culture and shapes elements such as sociopolitical structure, economic production, and religion (Mbuti Pygmies, 2005).
In addition to meeting a lot of their needs by hunting and gathering, this culture also make up to one hundred species of plants and two hundred species of animals. For example, they will gather wild berries and cola nuts. Their remaining diet consists of a smaller number of selected plants and animal species. As well as fishing in rivers that flow through the Ituri catching fish and crabs. The animals that are hunted are monkeys, wild pigs and antelopes. The population in the Mbuti’s society ranges, from twenty thousand to forty thousand. Each member of a band is all related directly or indirectly to one another (Mbuti Pygmies).
According to Mosko (1987), the forest is the one thing that judges everything from kinship, economics, politics, and religion are all linked together. It also is what their lives is founded on. The Mbuti’s entire understanding of life is based on the forest. Mosko also discussed kinship within this society as father and mother, friend or sibling, and lover. For example, the mother is referred to as being a great provider who is the source of love, affection, trust, and well being. The father is the lawgiver, which is the source of severity, strictness, authority, and conflict.
Territory is a principle of social organization to the Mbuti people. Bands continuously seek new ground for hunting generally for forest products and wild animals. Each band within the culture consists of fifteen to sixty people, although the forest is considered a spherical womb. A family is set up as a nuclear family which is mother, father and children. The extended family relations are incorporated for all band members, regardless of actual or known biological connection. They follow a patrilineal descent system, which is a system that belongs to the father’s decedents and inheritance through the male’s line. Once married, they are considered patrilocal and reside with the husband’s family (Nowak & Laird, 2010).
The Mbuti are an egalitarian society where everyone has equal power. There is no ruling or political structure. Every member plays a role in making sure that work is completed in each band. Gathering is a shared responsibility for the Mbuti culture. Man’s role is hunting while woman’s job is to gather. One the other, hand there are times when women catch small animals and bring them home. When hunting together, the Mbuti’s use a net. The net used for hunting is made out of forest vine that is approximately one meter high and thirty to one hundred meters long. A large semicircle is formed by the men and the women close the other half of the semicircle once the animal is caught the man will spear the animal to death (Mbuti Pygmies).
Additional jobs are also divided by gender as well. Men