15 terms

Forest People Questions

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Section 1: Author - who did this fieldwork, where, when, and why did he return? Who did he live with and where and how do these people live?
-Anthropologist: Colin Turnbull
-Where: Ituri Forest, in the Northeast corner of the Belgian Congo, in the middle of Africa
-Studied in 1954
-He returned because he disagreed with many aspects of an account of the BaMbuti people by a Reverend Paul Schebesta.
-Originally, he'd lived at a settlement known as "Camp Putnam". This was a rudimentary village. In 1954, he lived with the pygmies; they are nomadic, living off the forest, odd jobs in the villages, and theft from plantations. They live in the forest proper, not tearing it down for plantations.
Section 1: Villagers - How do they differ from the Pygmies? What event convinced Turnbull to return to the Ituri? Compare the meaning of this event to both the Villagers and Pygmies. What do they get from each other?
The Villagers fear the forest, seeing it as a place of evil. They are also firmly rooted in tradition, while the Pygmies "do not feel bound by custom." In general, the Pygmies have a much more optimistic outlook on life in general, and are uninhibited in their appreciation of life as simple good.

The ritual in which Turnbull had cuts made on his forehead, so as to become "one with the forest", convinced him to return to the Ituri.

The BaMbuti people are accepting and loving; they embrace Turnbull as one of their own, being themselves as kind as the forest is to them.
Section 1: Death - How do the Pygmies view illness and death? Describe the funeral of Cephu's daughter. How was the grief at Balekimito's death different, why?
The Pygmies see illness as a death in and of itself; when someone is rather sick, they are dying. When they are deathly ill, they are completely dead. After they stop breathing, they are dead forever. Then, after a period of celebration to cheer up the forest, they move on with their lives.

The funeral of Cephu's daughter is a burial done by traditions of the villagers. The villagers, however, lack patience with the whole affair; to them, Cephu's daughter is dead, and they should move on.

Where wailing had been done for Cephu's daughter as it was an obligatory action for the women, with Balekemito the grief was sincere; their loss of Balekemito was complete, and irreversible. It spurs the people to go back to the forest, as the people would not be so sad if they were back in the forest.
Section 1: Forest Camp -Describe how the new camp was built. What did men and women each do? Describe the house and furniture.
-women carried possessions to the campsite, gathering food, while men were kept unimpeded to hunt. Among these were a burning ember wrapped in leaves for fire.

-As soon as they arrive at camp, the women begin making huts, without stopping to rest, cutting branches for a frame, and tying leaves to the frame with vines. If any families had leftover supplies, they'd give them to another family. The efficient workers helped the lazy ones, who were lagging behind in the building of the houses.

-the men were the ones that gathered the leaves and such for the women

-Houses are arranged politically; people go next to who they get along with best.
Section 2: Molimo Festival - Describe the ceremony conducted each day for months. What did men and women do, what was thought important to do or NOT do?
The Molimo ceremony is sort of like a camping trip. The women and children return to their huts in the night, while the men all go sit around the kumamolimo (a fire), and sing songs, to which someone with the molimo, answers from the woods. They then eat the food that has been collected during the day as a sort of collection plate kind of deal. The men must sing while the molimo sings. It is a crime to be asleep during its song. Additionally all the men must eat after the molimo has finished singing.
Section 2: Hunting -How do the people hunt. What was Cephu's crime? How was he punished? How did he apologize?
The people hunt using large nets, which they attach to trees. The men stand behind them with spears and bows while the women scare the game into the nets. The men then kill the animals and the meat is equally divided between the clan members. Cephu had sneakily set up his net in front of everyone else's, hoping to catch some better game. He was confronted by the villagers, who made him apologize and took all of his meat from that days hunt as punishment for his greediness.
Section 2: Punishment - What four ways are offenses punished? How are disputes generally settled?
The worst offenses were thought to be dealt with supernaturally. Some were punished by the molimo. The molimo would beat a person or wreak havoc on their hut. Secondary crimes were punishable by thrashing, after the camp had discussed it. The mildest offenses were settled between the two parties either by arguing or fist-fighting.
Section 2: Women - describe their clothing, how it is made, and their make-up. What do they do when angry with their husbands? How does he apologize?
The men and women wear bark cloth which is made by removing the bark from a tree and pounding it until it is soft. The women decorate it using dyes and fruit juices painted on it patterns. The women use vines to hold up the cloth and the vines are split and braided into elaborate belts. The women make a black paste out of soot which they use to draw designs on their bodies with. When a woman is angry with her husband she will begin to take apart the hut. He must apologize or she will return to her parents hut.
Section 3: Magic and Religion - Compare the attitudes of the Pygmies and Villagers toward ritual and the molimo. Are women discriminated against in religion?
The pygmies' opinion of the molimo ceremony is that as long as the ceremony is performed correctly, then the solemnity of the act wasn't important. They think
the purpose of the ceremony is to show respect to the supernatural deity which
they believe controls the forest. They think that showing respect will make the
forest benevolent towards them. The villagers on the other hand, thought that
anything less than complete seriousness was sacrilege. They believe the outcome
of the molimo ceremony is magic. Women take part in the molimo ceremony, but separately from the men. They sing from in a hut where they sit around a fire and lead the dance around the fire. The attempt to scatter the fire while the men attempt to keep the fire going.
Section 3: Villagers -Compare the attitudes of the Villagers and the Pygmies toward the forest. What were the benefits they each got from their trade.
The villagers don't trust the forest. They regard it as evil and think it houses bad spirits and demons that want to hurt the villagers. They are especially suspicious because they have such a hard time cultivating their crops in the forest's soil. The pygmies view the forest as sacred and safe. To them its covering provides shelter. They don't believe that forest houses evil spirits because the forest is the epitome of goodness. It provides them with and abundance of resources necessary for the pygmies to stay alive. The villagers used the pygmies to hunt for them, retrieve resources from the forest and occasionally help out during the harvest. The pygmies were in turn given food from villager farms and were allowed to stay with the villagers.
Section 3: Elima -Describe this event. Compare the attitudes of the Pygmies and Villagers about it. How are the boys invited in, and how do they get inside?
The villagers regard the elima as shameful. They view the menstrual blood as a sign of infidelity and promiscuity. They seclude the young girls from everyone but their female relatives until she names a boy who is supposedly responsible for her bleeding and then if her parents approve the boy is given the option of taking responsibility, by which he is agreeing to marry her. For the pygmies the elima is a time of celebration. They view menstrual blood as a sign of life and fertility and so the girls are taken to stay with their friends and learn all the songs a woman must know as well as the art of motherhood. Boys are invited to the elima house by being whipped by one of the elima initiates. In order to get into the house they must brave an armed circle of mothers surrounding the house, who beat them relentlessly.
Section 3: Marriage - Describe this event. What does the groom provide for the bride's mother? How did Kenge get his sister to marry Taphu?
The village ceremony requires great feasting and decorative makeup. The marriage ceremony requires the bridegroom to give away one of his "sisters" to the bride's brother. Kenge got his sister to marry Taphu by beating her and publicly shaming her in front of the village. When she went to her mother, her mother beat her too and forced her to marry.
Section 4: Nkumbi - Describe this event. What is done and why. How do Villagers "toughen" them up?
1. The Nkumbi ceremony is the initiation ceremony for young boys. It includes a ritual circumcision and many beatings in order to toughen the boys up. The boys are not allowed to eat certain foods, get wet or touch their food with their hands. They are required to learn the working songs and there is never enough sleep to go around. The Nkumbi is performed in order to ensure that a boy who undergoes it will be allowed to join his ancestors after death. It is sort of the villager equivalent of a baptism.
Section 4: Developments - What is happening now? How does Chief Kachui feel about the Pygmies? What was the local administrator doing? What will happen?
In this chapter Turnbull and Kenge go to visit neighboring villages. They meet with the chief of one, Kachui, who grumbles about "his" pygmies not helping with the harvest, which is a problem because the local administrator wants the crops now. The administrator wanted to liberate the pygmies by giving them their own plantations.
Section 4: Comparison - Pick several things in the culture of the Pygmies and compare each with your own or with another culture you know about.
Do it yoself