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  • Kuba - Art & Life in Africa - The University of Iowa Museum of Art
    View all images in the media gallery Types of Art Aside from beautiful cloth the Kuba also produce carved wooden masks and figures They also carve headrests divination oracles and anthropomorphic cups History In the 16th century the Kuba peoples migrated from the distant north to their current location along the Sankuru River When they arrived however they found that the Twa already lived there The Twa were eventually absorbed into the Kuba Kingdom but retained some independent cultural characteristics The height of the Kingdom was during the mid 19th century Europeans first reached the area in 1884 but the Kuba being relatively isolated were not as affected by the slave trade as many of the other peoples in the area The Nsapo invaded during the late 19th century and the Kingdom was broken up to a large extent Economy The rivers which define the Kuba territory provide the fish consumed in the area They also farm maize and cassava both of which were imported from the new world The Kuba weave beautiful raffia cloth which is embroidered by the women and traded to surrounding areas Political Systems The Kuba Kingdom is actually comprised of numerous smaller ethnic groups including the Bushoong Ngeende Kel Pyaang Bulaang Bieeng Ilebo Idiing Kaam Ngoombe Kayuweeng Shoowa Bokila Maluk and Ngongo The King of Kuba is always Bushoong Each of the ethnic groups has a representative in residence at the Bushoong court Religion The Kuba oral history tells of the creation of the world by Bumba who decreed that the Bushoong would always be the ruling class This creator god is not formally worshiped At one time the Kuba had a religion based on ancestor worship but this seems to have died out although divination is still practiced in order to discover causes of

    Original URL path: https://africa.uima.uiowa.edu/peoples/show/Kuba (2016-02-13)
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  • Kusu - Art & Life in Africa - The University of Iowa Museum of Art
    figures to the Hemba influenced ancestor figures Women also make pottery and basketry which is used in everyday life History Kusu history is shared with the Nkutshu and Tetela all of whom came from the northwest of their current location and share a Mongo Kundu origin Their first movement was southward then they moved back north through Luba Songye and Hemba territory acquiring social customs and learning artistic styles along the way Once arrived in their new location they split into two major factions divided into north and south they then further divided into smaller groups which remain largely separated and independent to this day due to their geographic isolation The groups in the south have been more influenced by the Songye and the Luba which is evident in their sculpture styles Economy The Kusu who in the past were hunters have in recent years embraced a more sedentary lifestyle that includes farming on land that is cleared by men They raise maize yams beans and also domesticated animals including cows pigs goats and chickens Fishing is performed by both men and women using nets fashioned by men and hunting is still considered to be of ritual importance and serves as a powerful metaphor in most communities Political Systems The Kusu are split into small villages that are relatively isolated from one another particularly in the south where Luba influence is most strongly felt The villages are further divided into castes in which the blacksmiths are influential Investiture ceremonies for chiefs are similar to those practiced among the Luba but there is no paramount chief who oversees all of the Kusu Instead there are a series of village leaders who inherit their positions of power Religion Kusu religious practice has been greatly influenced by their neighbors They recognize Vilie a

    Original URL path: https://africa.uima.uiowa.edu/peoples/show/Kusu (2016-02-13)
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  • Kwahu - Art & Life in Africa - The University of Iowa Museum of Art
    throughout the region It was not until the end of the 17th century however that the grand Asante Kingdom emerged in the central forest region of Ghana when several small states united under the Chief of Kumasi in a move to achieve political freedom from the Denkyira The Akan confederacy was dissolved by the British in 1900 and colonized in 1901 Although there is no longer a centralized Akan confederacy Akan peoples maintain a powerful political and economic presence Economy Early Akan economics revolved primarily around the trade of gold and enslaved peoples to Mande and Hausa traders within Africa and later to Europeans along the coast This trade was dominated by the Asante who received firearms in their role as middlemen in the slave trade These were used to increase their already dominant power Local agriculture includes cocoa cultivation for export while yams and taro serve as the main food staples Along the coast fishing is very important The depleted forests provide little opportunity for hunting Extensive markets are run primarily by women who hold considerable economic power while men engage in fishing hunting and clearing land Both sexes are involved in farming Political Systems Royal membership among Akan is determined through connection to the land Anyone who traces descent from a founding member of a village or town may be considered royal Each family is responsible for maintaining political and social order within its confines In the past there was a hierarchy of leadership that extended beyond the family first to the village headman then to a territorial chief then to the paramount chief of each division within the Asante confederacy The highest level of power is reserved for the Asanthene who inherited his position along matrilineal lines The Asantahene still plays an important role in Ghana today

    Original URL path: https://africa.uima.uiowa.edu/peoples/show/Kwahu (2016-02-13)
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  • Kwere - Art & Life in Africa - The University of Iowa Museum of Art
    the ancestors of the Islamized Swahili peoples They settled just inland from the coast and maintained close trading ties with their neighbors including Zaramo Zigua Luguru and Swahili peoples The differences between the histories and social practices of the matrilineal Bantu peoples that inhabit this region are minimal and in fact strict boundaries were only drawn by British colonial administrators Economy Kwere are hoe cultivators raising maize rice and millet as staples Goats sheep chickens and guinea fowl are also raised Some cattle are now kept although this was impossible earlier in their history since the tsetse fly was once endemic Some fishing is practiced though for the most part Kwere farmers trade with Swahili fishermen Near the coast the climate is tropical and there are plenty of fruit trees and coconut trees which provide ample food sources Tobacco cotton and sisal were raised for purposes of trade At one time Tanzania was the largest exporter of sisal and this commodity which is used to make ropes was the greatest contributer to the Tanzanian economy As synthetic alternatives have become less expensive however Tanzania has seen the bottom drop out of the sisal market Political Systems Kwere did not have centralized political systems Their social organization was based on small scale self governing matrilineal kin groups Lineage heads were chosen by community leaders These leaders held the land rights of the lineage Land ownership was determined by the original members who inhabited it The leader was responsible for distributing the land and maintaining lineage rituals Most of the leaders in Kwere communities were men but on occasion they could be women They settled disputes between family members and were often attributed with spiritual powers such as the ability to make rain or to communicate with the spirit world Religion Most

    Original URL path: https://africa.uima.uiowa.edu/peoples/show/Kwere (2016-02-13)
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  • Laka - Art & Life in Africa - The University of Iowa Museum of Art
    Wolof Woyo Wum Yaka Yombe Yoruba Zaramo Zulu Laka See All View all images in the media gallery Types of Art Most Laka art are body arts which are most evident during initiation History It is believed that Laka peoples originated from the northwest in the area near Lake Chad and were pushed southward over the last two centuries by the expansion of the Fulani empire into their current location in southern Chad They share linguistic and cultural ties with their Cameroonian neighbors who live to the south and were also pushed south by the Fulani Economy Cotton is the primary crop grown for export Millet and peanuts are also staples Most Laka are sedentary farmers who plant seasonal crops during the rainy season which extends from April to October Political Systems Most villages are organized around a patrilineage Leadership is accorded to those elders in the village who are able to trace their descent from the first Laka lineage to occupy the village Other lineages may live in a village but the descendents of the first lineage usually retain a paramount status As such they are responsible for heading initiation instruction and making most important agricultural decisions A council

    Original URL path: https://africa.uima.uiowa.edu/peoples/show/Laka (2016-02-13)
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  • Lega - Art & Life in Africa - The University of Iowa Museum of Art
    production of most Lega art work which includes ivory and wooden statuettes and masks Ivory objects are reserved for the highest level Kindi while wooden objects are used by Kindi and Yonanio the second level History In the 16th century the Lega began their long migration from modern day Uganda into their present location They were a warlike people whose fierceness inspired those with whom they came into contact to adopt many Lega customs In the 17th century they attacked the Rwandan outpost of Rutshurer on their way to Maniema just west of Lake Tanganyika dividing and conquering the people who lived in the region Many cultural traits have been assimilated into the surrounding cultures and the Lega still dominate the region today Economy Although traditionally the Lega were mostly farmers raising manioc bananas and rice they have recently been panning for gold in alluvial river deposits There are also iron ore mines in the region which employ local labor The Bwami society which is a political organization requires large payments from those who wish to advance As a result even in very rural areas there is a large amount of currency in circulation Political Systems The Lega are not organized under one centralized authority Instead individual communities are stratified in accordance with lineage hierarchies The leader of the lineage inherits his position along patrilineal lines This system is balanced by the Bwami society which is theoretically open to all Lega and involves movement through numerous hierarchical stages One s power in the community is often determined by one s power in Bwami The demand for high payment that is made for movement through Bwami often acts to challenge the lineage power structure Religion The main gods are Kalaga the promiser Kenkunga the reassembler and Ombe the hidden Kaginga is

    Original URL path: https://africa.uima.uiowa.edu/peoples/show/Lega (2016-02-13)
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  • Lobi - Art & Life in Africa - The University of Iowa Museum of Art
    one another and to fight off witches History The Lobi migrated into Burkina Faso from present day Ghana around 1770 and many of them crossed the border into contemporary Côte d Ivoire over the next hundred years or so in search of uncultivated lands Although Lobi villages are often very independent and so politically disorganized they managed to put up a strong resistance to French colonialization Economy The Lobi mostly practice hoe farming living on millet sorghum and corn The men are normally responsible for clearing the fields and preparing them for planting while the women do most of the sowing and harvesting Both men and women produce crafts which they sell on the local markets for a modest income Some livestock and cattle are raised for trading and to be used for paying for dowries and fines and also to use as offerings Although hunting and fishing at one time provided an important source of protein for the Lobi this is no longer the case as game populations have been seriously diminished since the introduction of firearms Political Systems Lobi villages are spread out and often intermingle with one another It is often difficult to distinguish one from another geographically Yet due to village affiliation with an individual thil it is possible to define community boundaries The thil who is recognized as the head of the community expresses prohibitions through a religious diviner which must be obeyed by the village inhabitants Each village is independent and the prohibitions enforced in one area may be completely ignored in the next Religion It is believed by the Lobi that at one time they lived in a metaphorical Garden of Eden at one with the god and wanting for nothing However as their numbers began to increase men began to fight one

    Original URL path: https://africa.uima.uiowa.edu/peoples/show/Lobi (2016-02-13)
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  • Luba - Art & Life in Africa - The University of Iowa Museum of Art
    memory boards History The relentless expansion of Luba empire can be traced as far back as 1500 when it emerged from the Upemba depression which is still the heartland of the Luba Eastward expansion to Lake Tanganyika intensified under the leadership of Ilungu Sungu between 1780 and 1810 This was followed by north and southeast expansion until 1840 under Kumwimbe Ngombe and then to the northwest and northeast from 1840 to 1870 under Ilunga Kabale The empire began to diminish after his death in 1870 as Arab slave traders and European invaders challenged notions of Luba supremacy in the region contributing to the decline of Luba power The legacy of the great empire is still recognizable in the region today where local customs and art styles often reflect a strong Luba influence Economy During the height of its reign the Luba empire operated on a complex system of tributes which acted to redistribute wealth throughout the region The ruling class had a virtual monopoly on trade items such as salt copper and iron ore which allowed them to continue their dominance Most citizens of the empire relied on slash and burn farming for subsistence This was supplemented with fishing and hunting The importance of hunting was reinforced by social institutions which celebrated the fortunes of good hunters Political Systems The Luba empire was characterized by centralized authority vested in a mulopwe sacred king This king enforced his power through the control of subordinate regional leaders who normally inherited their status based on their positions within various patriclans The mulopwe s power was reinforced by a royal diviner who was responsible for formally initiating him into his royal position Numerous institutions existed to counterbalance the absolute power of the king The best known of these institutions is the Mbudye society whose

    Original URL path: https://africa.uima.uiowa.edu/peoples/show/Luba (2016-02-13)
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