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  • Mangbetu - Art & Life in Africa - The University of Iowa Museum of Art
    portraits Harps and trumpets that were used by court musicians were often adorned with sculpted human heads Decorated thrones and knives were also part of the royal regalia History Linguistic patterns indicate that the Mangbetu originated from the northeast probably from modern day Sudan As they moved southward they encountered Bantu migrations moving northward They finally settled in their current homeland in the 19th century This area had been occupied by the Mbuti The Mangbetu intermarried with and subsumed many of the Bantu and pygmy populations they encountered In the 19th century the Mangbetu Kingdom was established under Nabiembale and became the dominant political force in the region until 1880 when Sudanic and Islamic slavers entered the region fragmenting the kingdom into sultanates controlled by Moslem leaders When the Belgians arrived they expelled the slavers Economy The people living in the Mangbetu region subsist mostly on hoe farming fishing and some hunting Yams and plantains are the primary crops and some cattle farming is done Unlike other Sudanic peoples however among the Mangbetu only the men are permitted to do the milking Livestock is seen as a symbol of wealth and is often exchanged for bride prices When the king reigned he monopolized the copper and ivory trade Political Systems The name Mangbetu refers strictly to the ruling aristocracy which ruled the region during the 19th century The paramount leader inherited his position and controlled many subkingdoms throughout the region Often he appointed his relatives or subjugated leaders to act as his spokesmen in these villages Most of the people who live in the area do not originate from Mangbetu lineages but have been subjugated by them Individual villages are stratified in accordance with the relationships of the people to the founding Mangbetu lineages Religion The Mangbetu creator god is

    Original URL path: https://africa.uima.uiowa.edu/peoples/show/Mangbetu (2016-02-13)
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  • Manja - Art & Life in Africa - The University of Iowa Museum of Art
    museum collections and those objects that exist are believed to represent the ancestors Their style is very similar to the Ngbaka and Ngbandi although Manja figures usually do not have the thick scarification patterns that typify their neighbors History Although little is known about the history of the Manja linguistic evidence suggests that during the past 2 000 years they migrated into their current homeland from the northeast displacing the groups of nomadic hunters who previously lived in the area Their oral history corroborates this evidence indicating that they originally migrated from the area around Lake Chad to the north with their current neighbors the Ngbaka and Gbaya peoples to escape slave traders Their migration was complete by the time Europeans arrived in the late 19th century Economy The Manja are primarily an agrarian people growing sorghum maize and manioc as staple crops amid the dripping rain forest that surrounds them Bananas taro and yams are also important to the daily diet The raising of livestock contributes relatively little to the local economy Men fish in the local rivers and manage to snare the occasional meal through sporadic hunting Regional trade is carried out along the major rivers Men are responsible for clearing the land using slash and burn techniques while the remainder of the farming work is done by the women Political Systems The Manja live in small clusters of houses which remain relatively isolated and independent of one another The eldest male member of each extended family is recognized as the leader among them Men often marry several wives each of whom is given her own house where she can raise her own children The first wife is honored and often has significant influence over her husband Low population density and the thickness of the surrounding forest requires

    Original URL path: https://africa.uima.uiowa.edu/peoples/show/Manja (2016-02-13)
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  • Mbole - Art & Life in Africa - The University of Iowa Museum of Art
    the Lomani River near Basoko before moving south to their current location In the 18th century they were divided into five smaller peoples as a result of pressure from the advancing Bombesa They share a cultural and linguistic history with the Mongo who live to the west and from whom they were separated during the Topoke and Lokele invasions Their art forms and certain linguistic patterns indicate a degree of shared history with the Yela and Pere Economy The Mbole are primarily hunters and farmers The nuclear family is the main unit of production Women grow the main staples consisting of manioc bananas and rice and they also raise ducks goats and chickens which provide milk eggs and the occasional protein rich meal Men hunt with bows and arrows using guns when available They also build traps to ensnare unsuspecting prey The diet is supplemented with fishing which is carried out with nets in the nearby river Most of the necessities of daily life are handmade by weavers and local blacksmiths the latter of whom often serve in ceremonies including initiation and circumcision Political Systems Governing among the Mbole is directed by the village chief a chosen village elder who has attained a high status in the Lilwa society This society the primary initiation and education organization of all males and some females effectively trains all young men to be responsible members of society The eldest of each lineage normally represents it in village politics Villages are autonomous but may elect an area chief to represent several villages on issues that concern them all Female political power is maintained through residence rules which encourage a man to live in the village of his wife The wife s brother also plays an important role in the education of the children If

    Original URL path: https://africa.uima.uiowa.edu/peoples/show/Mbole (2016-02-13)
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  • Mende - Art & Life in Africa - The University of Iowa Museum of Art
    heads or other beautiful designs History The Mende language is closely related to the Mande language group indicating that the Mende migrated from the Sudan to the north The oral traditions of the Mende tell of a peaceful migration into the area that may have spanned the period from 200 to 1500 A D Cultural and physical differences among the Mende suggest that immigrants may have originated from more than one source This could also be a result of intermarriage with the peoples who had already lived in the area Artistic traditions link them closely to the coastal Bullom peoples a phenomenon which most likely resulted from the Mende borrowing ideas they found to be useful in their own society Economy The Mende are traditionally rice farmers who also produce yams and cassava as staple crops Cocoa ginger groundnuts peanuts and palm oil are the primary cash crops Political Systems There are two main educational societies among the Mende which are divided by gender They are the Poro for men and the Sande for women and are open to anyone in the community They have earned the misnomer secret societies because some of their actions are hidden from the eyes of uninitiated children and members of the opposite sex Their existence and purpose is known to all members of society The primary role of both is to teach individuals about the expectations of the community Such organizations function to institute community morals and act as a very efficient means of social control Religion Ngewo is the creator and ruler of the universe and is assisted by the ancestors and other Nga fa spirits Both are appealed to for protection and fertility for the community and the individual All manifestation of the spirit including the masks that are performed for religious

    Original URL path: https://africa.uima.uiowa.edu/peoples/show/Mende (2016-02-13)
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  • Mitsogo - Art & Life in Africa - The University of Iowa Museum of Art
    14th centuries Art styles and techniques link the Mitsogo to other peoples in their region Like the Fang and Kota peoples who live to the north and the Punu who live to the south the Mitsogo carve figures whose primary purpose is to guard the relics of ancestors They also practice bwiti which is an observed practice of various other peoples throughout Gabon Economy Mitsogo economy is based on shifting hoe farming in fields that have been carved out of the rain forests through slash and burn techniques This is supplemented when necessary with hunting fishing and livestock such as goats sheep and chickens The surrounding Equatorial forests also provide various fruits nuts and tubers for consumption The main crops include banana yams cassava maize peanuts and manioc Men do most of the hunting and gathering and clearing of land and women perform the other agricultural tasks Political Systems The peoples throughout this region of Gabon share similar political systems Each village has a leader who has inherited his position based on his relationship to the founding family of that village As a political leader he often serves as an arbitrator and is equally recognized as a ritual specialist This enables him to justify his position of power based on his relationship with the ancestors of the village Each village consists of bark houses in arranged in a balanced pattern along straight streets and the size of the village is often determined by the resources available Religion Mitsogo religion centered around ancestors who were believed to wield power in the afterlife as they had as living leaders of the community The skulls and long bones of these men were believed to retain power and are said to have control over the well being of the family of the relics keepers

    Original URL path: https://africa.uima.uiowa.edu/peoples/show/Mitsogo (2016-02-13)
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  • Mossi - Art & Life in Africa - The University of Iowa Museum of Art
    southwest are made by descendants of the conquered Gurunsi peoples History The Mossi states were created about 1500 A D when bands of horsemen rode north from what is now northern Ghana into the basin of the Volta River and conquered several less powerful peoples including Dogon Lela Nuna and Kurumba These were integrated into a new society call Mossi with the invaders as chiefs and the conquered as commoners The emperor of the Mossi is the Moro Naba who lives in the ancient and contemporary capital Ouagadougou In the centuries between 1500 and 1900 the Mossi were a major political and military force in the bend of the Niger River and were effective in resisting the movements of Muslim Fulani armies across the Sudan area of west Africa In 1897 the first French military explorers arrived in the area and staked French colonial claims During the sixty years of French colonial rule the Mossi population was exploited as a source of human labor for French plantations in Côte d Ivoire In 1960 Burkina Faso gained its independence from the French The first elected president Ouezzin Coulibaly was succeeded by Maurice Yameogo a Mossi In 1967 a coup d état put in place a military government that has ruled with infrequent change ever since Economy The Mossi are primarily farmers raising millet sorghum maize sesame peanuts and indigo The latter three are cash crops that are raised for export Large numbers of Mossi live in the urban centers of Ouagadougou Ouahigouya Kaya Yako Koudougou During the colonial period the French exercised a policy of deliberate underdevelopment intended to force Mossi laborers to leave their homes following the harvest and migrate by the French built railroad to Côte d Ivoire where they worked in French owned factories and plantations From the founding of the Mossi states to the present the economy of Burkina Faso and of the Mossi benefitted from their position astride major trade routes between the forest and the desert and from the open trade policies of the government surrounded by countries such as Ghana and Mali which restricted trade Political Systems The Mossi are unique in Burkina Faso for their centralized and hierarchical political system The nakomse are the ruling class and are directed descendants of the first invaders from the south At the apex of political hierarchy is the Moro Naba emperor whose palace is in Ouagadougou the capital of Burkina Faso Nabas chiefs rule over each of the regions of Mossi country and pay homage to the emperor Each chief presides over a political hierarchy of local officials who are responsible for raising armies levying taxes etc The nyonyose are the descendants of the conquered peoples who lived in the region before the Mossi arrived Religion The descendants of the conquered nyonyose farmers honor nature spirits that provide them with supernatural power to control the weather disease crop failure and general well being These are the invented spirits that become important as the congregation faces a

    Original URL path: https://africa.uima.uiowa.edu/peoples/show/Mossi (2016-02-13)
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  • Mumuye - Art & Life in Africa - The University of Iowa Museum of Art
    wars which extended from the 17th century into the early 19th century Along with their neighbors with whom they have much in common they fled southwards into the hills of eastern Nigeria where they divided into small communities that remained relatively isolated from one another The Benue River Valley had very little to offer to Europeans in terms of natural resources and so they remained relatively isolated from colonialist enterprise Economy Mumuye are farmers although the soil in this area is not exceptionally fertile During the dry season from October to March nothing can be grown on the desolate scrub like land Millet is the staple crop in the region and is used to make flour and beer The uncertainty of harvests in this region have led to the development of various prayers and offerings that are made during both planting and harvesting cycles in hopes of increasing the annual yield Hunting is widely practiced to augment the local diet and game is generally abundant Each village has its own hunting lands and permission is required for an outsider to hunt on these lands Political Systems The relative isolation of individual communities remains today For the most part small villages are made up of one or two extended families and the spouses who have married into those families Individual lineages identify with a totemic spirit that is metaphorically embodied in certain animals Families that might otherwise be unrelated may develop political ties because they both belong the the same spirit The result of this sort of relationship is a somewhat decentralized power structure that permits the members of each totem group to retain a degree of power Religion The totemic groups mentioned above are of primary importance in Mama religion for a lineage s membership in a certain group is

    Original URL path: https://africa.uima.uiowa.edu/peoples/show/Mumuye (2016-02-13)
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  • Ngbaka - Art & Life in Africa - The University of Iowa Museum of Art
    direction It is known that the Ngbaka had contact with the Mabo at the Lua Dekere River and with the Mono at the Bembe and Lubia Rivers Although they share many cultural similarities with their neighbors the Gbaya they speak slightly different languages and consider themselves separate peoples There is constant contact between them and their other neighbors the Ngbandi and Ngombe yet there is often conflict between them over land ownership Economy The Ngbaka are primarily subsistence farmers who raise manioc and maize along with sorghum and bananas They also raise chickens and goats for eggs and milk The region is nearly depleted of game and hunting is no longer of economic importance Most of the dietary protein comes from fish caught in the local rivers by women The blacksmith plays an important role in Ngbaka communities He is responsible for fashioning many of the utilitarian objects that are necessary for farming and he also makes arrowheads out of iron which are used for the little hunting that is done and numerous other objects out of copper and occasionally ivory Political Systems Being able to trace one s lineage to an important or very old ancestor is the primary measure of political importance in Ngbaka villages There is no centralized power representing all Ngbaka but there is normally a headman in each village who is selected and advised by individual family heads All of the family leaders are expected to meet and agree on a policy before it can be enacted Often this agreement is sealed with a blood pact Polygamy is widely practiced among the Ngbaka They are a patrilineal people but the position of honor within the family is normally reserved for the oldest female member Religion The Ngbaka believe in a supreme deity called Gale or

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