Primary modes of Subsistence of the Mbuti people

in Community

Culture can be defined as collective and learned figurative system of principles, viewpoints and thoughts that shape and influence discernment and conducts of people. The aspects of how a certain culture makes a living usually have effects on other aspects of cultural behavior. This has been an efficient way of organizing ideas and thoughts which have expanded studies about culture. Whether a culture is classified as forager, horticulturalist, pastoralist, agriculturalist, and/or industrialist has some direct influences on the other cultural behaviors which include; social organization, kinship, economic organization, social change, gender relations, political organizations, and beliefs and values among others. This study will look at how primary modes of subsistence of Mbuti culture influence other aspects of culture (Duffy, 1996).

Mbuti also known as the Bambuti people are one of the aboriginal pygmy groups in the country of Cong in Central Africa. The language of the Mbvuti people originates from the Central Sudanic sub-group of the Nilo-Sahara where the Mbuti people are believed to originate. In terms of their primary modes of subsistence, the Mbuti people are pygmy hunters and gatherers and are among the oldest native group of people in the Congo region of Central Africa. Just like any other hunters and gatherers, the Mbuti community is divided into bands which are of small sizes ranging from 15 to 60. The population of the Mbuti people in the Central Africa is approximated to range from 30,000 to 40,000. Within this group of people, there are four different cultures which include; Ef'e people speaking the language of the neighboring Balese or Mamvu which are Bantu speaking tribes. The second type of culture in this group of people is the Sua speaking the neighboring Budu language, Mbuti the speakers of the neighboring Bila language, and Aka the speakers of the neighboring Mangbetu tribe. From this therefore it can be deduced that, the name Mbuti is very confusing as it represents a range of number of cultures within the Mbuti group of people as well as a sub-group in the region of central Congo (Lee, 2009).

The Mbuti people are usually found in the extensive Ituri forest within the tropical forests of the Central Africa. This area is characterized by high amount of rainfall throughout the year. The Ituri forest is very wide with about 70,000 square kilometers which experiences a very short dry season throughout the year. Geographers have characterized this forest as a moist and humid region that encourages the presence of wild animals as the grass is ever green. It has been revealed that, within the Ituri forest there are a lot of diseases that kill humans, animals and even plants which may lead to food scarcity among the Mbuti community. One of the most prevalent diseases in this area is the sleeping sickness among the human beings which is usually transmitted by tse tse flies. As a matter of fact, this disease has limited the use of large mammals within this forest (Gibbs, 1965).

Social organizations of the Mbuti community

As indicated earlier, Mbuti people are hunters and gatherers who hunt wild animals and gather wild fruits as a means of their subsistence. This has made this group of people to be organized in social groups that help the community to carry out its major social lives. The aspect of social organization mainly comes from the subsections which are found within this community. People are organized in bands which are social units comprising of different families and people. In Mbuti community one band has a range of 15 to 60 people. In a family setting, which as a social organization within a band; the interaction between a husband, wife and the forest brings about a child. The forest is considered as a spherical womb which is a requirement for the conception and birth of a child. This is because the forest acts as the main means of subsistence since the Mbuti people are hunters and gatherers. Among the Mbuti community, the father is the main provider of food even though the mother provides some wild fruits. In this case, the main subsistence method in this community is hunting and the work of hunting is usually performed by men. Within a family set up, the mother and the child gathers fruits to complement the meat provided by the father. Children and their mother are supposed to gather firewood and fruits in the areas that are near their homes. On the other hand, husbands travel to long distances to look for an animal to hunt (Duffy, 1996).

A band is a social organization where people in one band hunt as a group. This has helped the Mbuti community to share what they have in making sure that each and every member of the community has something to eat. In a band there is the head who directs and guides other people on what and where they should go to hunt. The head of a band divides the food that has been hunted and hence makes sure that each and every family in the band has gotten a share. Despite the fact that the foods in a band are equally divided to all families by the band head, the heads of different families who conduct hunting has a right to have a bigger share of their hunts. People in Mbuti community keep on moving from one area to another in the search of animals and wild fruits. In this case, the heads of the different bands play the roles of selecting the place of settlement and making decision on how the life will be carried out at those new places. There is no person in the Mbuti community who can live without food as the hunted food is equally shared within the band. On the other hand, the gathered fruits by the women and children are not usually shared but consumed by respective families. Importantly, there are aspects of inter-band sharing of food where two bands can share foods in order to avoid one band going without food. The Mbuti community is nomadic where people move from one area of the forest to the other. In this case, this aspect of nomadic is not harmful to the environment as they do not overexploit a certain area by hunting all the game animals in that area (Turnbull, 1983).

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Primary modes of Subsistence of the Mbuti people

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This article was published on 2011/06/02