Pygmoids Tribes in Kitara

The closest relatives to the stone-Age people in Uganda can be said to be the pygmoids Batwa and the Bambuti. They live by hunting and gathering and they do not have permanent dwellings. They tend to be semi-sedentary, camping for a time where food can be obtained. The Batwa for example, live by begging from and working for the Bahutu and Batusi. This is probably so because there is no longer much scope for survival by hunting and gathering because of increased population encroachment on gathering grounds. However, they eke out a bare substance. They are ethically related to the pygmies of the Congo, the Ndorobo of Kenya (now diminishing) and the Koikoi and San (Bushmen and Hottentots) of South Africa.

The Bambuti

The Bambuti can be traced in the present districts of Bundibujo and Kasese. They inhabit the tropical forests of the Congo River basin. They are found on western Uganda- Zaire border particularly in the parts adjoining the Iturbi forest near the Iturbi River which has its source in Bulega hills overlooking Lake Albert and River semuliki. The Bambuti are often referred to as pygmies and they are believed to have been the original inhabitants of the Rwenzori Mountain areas before the arrival of the Bantu. Their original home is said to have been the Congo forest. Their language is called Kumbuti. It is said to be very complex and difficult to learn.

Dwellings: The Bambuti are nomads always on the move from place to place, hunting and gathering. They are said to be cannibals and their average height is about 1.5 meters. They have a light bronze colour and a beautiful complexion. They have the same curly, wooly hair as their Bantu neighbors. Their faces are broad, their nostrils wide and their lips are extraordinarily thick.

Their huts are built in the same model as Bantu huts but are made of leaves, not grass. They round, very short, and with a small entrance so small and low that they crawl on their hands and knees when entering and getting out. Their huts are temporary due to their nomadic life.

Food: Their diet is basically composed of meat. Often, they supplement it with bananas and sweet potatoes which they obtain by bartering meat for them with Bantu neighbors. Sometimes they do not wait to barter. They can simply invade one’s shamba and gather the produce without seeking the permission of the owner. Their neighbors fear them because of their aggressiveness. The sight of a mwambuti (singular of Bambuti) in one’s shamba may lead to the family of the owner going into temporary hiding.

They obtain their food by hunting and they are very skilled at it. When in the forest hunting, a dozen of them will make less noise than that of the animal being tracked. They arm themselves with the weapons best suited for their prey. Their normal weapons are spears, bows, and arrows. Every Mwambuti is armed with a small bow; barbed, poisoned arrows; and a spear with a blade similar to those of the Batwa. When hunting, they stealthily wait by water pools and tracks used bytes game. If they Kill big game, like an elephant, the whole colony of them, often as many as one hundred, will build their huts around the carcass of the elephant and eat it until it is finished. It is said that a fully grown elephant can feed a colony of Bambuti for a week or more.

Dressing: Their dress is composed of a belt wound round the waist, with a piece if bark cloth attached to the belt in the middle of the back, brought down between the legs and fixed against the belt front. This type of dress suits both men and women but it is not very common for the Bambuti to put on clothes. They usually go stark naked though, occasionally, some of them may be found with a brass-wire bangle.

Economy: The Bambuti‘s economy is just as simple as their general way of life. They are wanderers by nature with no fixed place of abode. Their chief means of subsistence is meat and the forests where they live abound with elephants, monkeys, lizards and some antelopes. The Bambuti prey on these animals and several others which the forest contains;

As one would expect, the Bambuti have no home industries. Their mode of life is purely subsistence and they do not seem to be troubled by lack of home comfort. If a Mwambuti can find somewhere to sit and a skin to sleep on, if he has eaten and drunk he finds nothing to trouble the world for.

Their usual utensils besides skins include; earth ware pots (traded or stolen) and weapons. Besides these named utensils, there is no other evidence of what one would call “wealth” among the Bambuti. They seem to be contented with what they have and if it was not for the continuous heavy rains, in their country they may even have dispensed with the hut.Movements: When on their normal travels, the women carry all the family property. They also do all the work including construction of huts. The man only carries his spears and arrows. The men do the hunting and really excel at it.