Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952453 | Print ISBN: 9780761930297 | Online ISBN: 9781412952453| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Catherine Mitchell Fuentes
The Mbuti Pygmies, referred to as BaMbuti or Bambuti, are an ancient group of hunters and gatherers living deep in the heart of Africa's Ituri Forest in what is today the Congo. It is speculated that they might be the earliest inhabitants of Africa. Often referred to as the forest people, the Mbuti, whose height rarely exceeds 4 feet 6 inches, have been mystified and romanticized by outsiders since the first written accounts provided by Egyptians around 2500 BC. Some have viewed the Mbuti in a utopian light, noting their egalitarian political and social structure, absence of warfare, sacred rituals, and close-knit social relationships with each other as well as their environment. There are a number of pygmy groups throughout Africa, such as the Twa and the Tswa, but it is the Mbuti who form the largest single group of pygmies and have retained their traditional culture for much longer ...