Mbuti Rituals

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Mbuti Rituals Colin Turnbull describes the Mbuti of the Ituri Rainforest in the African Congo in his ethnography The Forest People. The Mbuti are foragers who hunt small game and gather plants, such as mushrooms and wild yams. They lead an egalitarian lifestyle with no central leaders or clear gender biases. They are practical and self-sufficient and this philosophy translates to their rituals. There are two main rituals that the Mbuti pygmies perform: the molimo and the elima. Examining these rituals illuminates the relationship of the Mbuti to the forest and their view of their place in the world. They also serve to demonstrate the cultural differences between the Mbuti and the neighboring BaBira and BaNdaka villagers. To understand Mbuti rituals, it is important to first look at their world view. The Mbuti have a very positive and practical understanding of their world within the forest. For them the forest is good and “supplies them with all their needs” (Turnbull 14). The forest, however, is not the Pygmies’ god, and the wizened Moke…show more content…
They will go through the motions with the villagers, simply to appease them. However, since the gestures mean nothing in and of themselves, the Mbuti do not believe performing the villager rituals means anything to them. One example of this is demonstrated with the boys’ initiation ritual of the nkumbi. During the ritual, the villagers impose many rules upon the boys as well as what could be considered tortuous practices. However, when the villagers left the pygmies alone during one of these rituals, the Mbuti immediately relaxed and stopped abiding by the rules of the ritual. To them this sort of ritual is entirely superfluous as boys learn all that they need to become men as they are growing up. By participating in the ritual for the benefit of the villagers, the Mbuti display the lack of meaning attached to ritual acts

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