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Pygmies In African Americans

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In the middle of Africa, in the northeast corner of the Belgian Congo, is the Ituri forest: home of the pygmies. The pygmies, known by themselves as the BaMbuti, are an ancient indigenous people whose presence has been felt all the way back into ancient Egyptian times. They are a group of hunter gatherers who live off the Ituri rain forest and have evolved to be swift but silent runners who at most reach heights of four and a half feet tall (14). Up until the nineteenth century not much was known about the BaMbuti peoples. Most regarded them as myth or, if they did accept that they existed, unhuman creatures roaming the forests (16). The pygmy people share their home in the Congo with many Negro tribes. The Negro tribes claim ownership of certain…show more content…
For the ritual mourning the dead (the Molimo) there is a set mourning period they set up. At the end of this they have a feast in which only the men related to the deceased may eat. Women are excluded according to the rules however, BaMbuti men will slip food away to the women anyway (164). Whereas the villagers are very set on this being an only men’s affair the BaMbuti men want to share it with the rest of their compatriots. There is a stark difference in the Elima practices of them as well. Both groups practice the Elima. However, in the village menstrual blood is considered a terrible thing because of its mysterious and regular recurrence and when a woman first gets it she is secluded and only her mother can see her. This seclusion may last weeks or even months. During this time the woman has to be purified and cleansed and the clan has to be protected from her and the evil she brought to them. She is considered a nuisance and expense to everyone in the village (185). A women’s first period is considered to be brought about by some kind of illicit intercourse she has engaged in and she has to name the boy she did it with who will then give her parent’s offerings to protect himself and her. However he may just deny the allegation and be left alone unless her family decides he is a suitable husband. This is a way a women can try and influence who she gets married to but the decision ultimately comes down to…show more content…
Where the BaMbuti are foragers and therefore need the help of the women in order to survive it is inevitable that the women would gain some status in society that they lack in the village where they are cultivators and control to some extent the amount of food they get. There are still differences, some things that only men are allowed to do, but it is minimal in the forest and more pronounced in the village. In all aspects of life these gender roles influence how men or women are allowed to act and what they must do as they
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