The Mbuti Pygmies of the Ituri Rainforest
The Mbuti are one of the many pygmy groups indigenous to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Currently, between 30,000 and 40,000 members of the group live in the Ituri Rainforest, situated in the DRC’s north-east. Individual communities range in size from 15 to 60 people.
The Mbuti consider the forest a living entity: they refer to it as the providing “mother” or “father” and in times of crisis, will sing songs to it. A hunter-gatherer people, the entire community participates in obtaining food. Though only men wield bows and arrows, women and children play a crucial role when net-hunting by herding prey toward the nets. Women and children do much of the gathering though men participate as well.
The Mbuti are a non-violent people; they prefer to resolve conflicts quickly and rely on humor to calm nerves while working on a resolution. Contact with rebel groups operating in the region have resulted in many Mbuti relocating to refugee camps, where they experience persecution at the hands of other Congolese peoples.
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