The Mbuti Pygmies Essay

2241 words - 9 pages

In the Congo’s of Africa lives the Mbuti Pygmies. They are a foraging culture that depends on hunting and gathering for their survival, as well as the ability to trade with agricultural villages. Living in the rain forest gives way to temper changes as well as changes to the plant and animal surroundings. Adapting to these elements in key to surviving in here for a foraging society in with Mbuti has done very well. They never used more resources than needed for their own survival which is what we call a subsistence economy. Foraging communities are referred to as immediate return system meaning that consumption of food and other resources happens immediately. They keep very ...view middle of the document...

Mbuti are recognized as forest specialists due to their knowledge of the land. They are sometimes hired by local people to do jobs like identifying and cutting down trees for a local timber or killing off some of the wildlife population for commercial traders (Hart & Hart, 1984a). The Mbuti refer to the forest as “mother “and “father” depending on their mood because like their parents the forest gives them food and shelter (Turnbull, 1985). The Mbuti will no hunt in the center of the forest as they view that as the most sacred.
The Mbuti engage in net hunting to gathering depending on the season. The cycle of Mbuti subsistence is divided into three periods (Ichikawa, 1977a). The first period comes around from August to November which is the rainiest season in the rain forest. During this time the band stays close to the village to help in the agriculture activities by obtaining food from the farmers. Little to no hunting is done during this time.
The second period comes in December when the rain forest starts its hot season. The Mbuti are the most active with net hunting and game hunting. This becomes the busiest time for the Mbuti. The last period for the Mbuti in its cycle starts around April to July in which they call it “the honey season”. The hunting is still occurring during this time but the main subsistence for the Mbuti is collecting honey during this time as it’s a major food source.
The men and woman of Mbuti each play a pivotal role in how this culture survives. The men do the hunting, especially when a bow and arrow is used as it takes great knowledge in regards to making quivers and poison darts for blowpipes; however the women and children play a key role when nets are used. The Mbuti spread long nets close to the hunters while they have the woman and children scare the animals into the nets. When it comes to gathering the men and women share the role but the women do the cooking as well as the building of the huts that are used as homes. The role of childcare is divided equally between the men and woman. The men only really hunt the animals for meat when supplies are low or if they intend to trade with a nearby community.
According to Turnbull, the Mbuti have knowledge of the plants and roots enable them to prepare effective medicines and poisons. They use the species Ficus to make backcloths as well as the veins from the tress to make bow strings and their hunting nets. There are trees in the forest that give a sap which, can be used for cooking oil or fuel for torchlight depending on what part it is taken from (Turnbull, 1961).
The exchanges of goods between the Mbuti and the neighboring villages use no fixed terms and the use of cash for trades is rare. The Mbuti are nomads in which are very unpredictable in regards to what they trade and when they trade however unlike the Mbuti the surrounding villages are predictable in their trades and...

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