Mangbetu tribe Women of Democratic Republic of Congo with their traditional awesome hairstyles.

Mangbetu tribe Women of Democratic Republic of Congo with their traditional awesome hairstyles.Some women of the Mangbetu tribe who have elongated heads; their skulls were lengthened by tight cord when they were infants.
The ‘Mangbetu’ are an amalgam of linguistically- and culturally-related peoples of northeastern Democratic Republic of CongoThe name Mangbetu refers to a large people group of the northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The major subgroups are the Mangbetu, Meegye, Makere, Malele, Popoi and Abelu. The Mangbetu area is one of both forest and savannah. The economy is a mixture of agriculture, small animal husbandry, hunting, fishing and gathering. Cash crops have included palm oil, coffee, peanuts, rice, bananas, and maize.

Until very recently, the Mangbetu were one of a small number of Congolese peoples who paid death compensations. A person who died was considered to have done so "in the hands of" his father's family group. This meant that the father's group had to compensate the mother's group, regardless of the circumstances of death. Their traditional belief system includes a complex of ideas about witchcraft and sorcery. One such idea is that the power of witchcraft resides in an appendage of the small intestine, which is inherited by girls from their mother and by boys from their father.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Mangbetu were only one of many small groups of people that were settling on the northern edge of the Zaire rain forest. At that time, the Mangbetu leader, Nabiembali, gathered a following of warriors and moved north across the upper Bomokandi River to subdue groups of Mangbele and Mabisanga.
Not long afterward, he continued Mangbetu expansion by conquering other peoples in the area, among them groups of Madi, Bangba, Mayogo, Mayvu, Makango, and Barambo. The major significance of Nabiembali's conquests was that he incorporated non-Kere-speaking peoples into his kingdom. His conquests represented the first time that power had been wielded on a territorial basis.
The Mangbetu are basically patrilineal. At the same time, the maternal uncles of a man are very important. It was formerly a common practice for a strong nephew to be accepted as a ruler over his maternal kin. The nephew's son then became heir to his father's power. Tied in with these practices was the tradition of giving women to unrelated groups or exchanging women with them. This practice was accepted throughout the region as a form of peacemaking or alliance, but Nabiembali—and the Mangbetu who followed him—turned the custom into an institution of control over the many ethnic groups that were represented among their subjects. One of the primary advantages of this practice was that it could give a weak clan a strong leader, through the clan's maternal ties; however, Nabiembali used the practice in reverse. He developed a strategy of marrying many wives, not only to increase productivity, display his wealth, and have many sons, but also to legitimize his conquests and extend his control. His policy worked to the extent that some of his sons were accepted as rulers among their mothers' peoples. However, because his sons sought to extend their own power and the influence of their maternal clans (over which they ruled), and because they challenged the authority of their father, both centralized power and the extent of Mangbetu rule were eventually weakened.

BY: Kweku Darko Ankrah

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