1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Akka

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AKKA (Tikki-Tikki) a race of African pygmies first seen by the traveller G. A. Schweinfurth in 1870, when he was in the Mangbettu country, N.W. of Albert Nyanza. The home of the Akka is the dense forest zone of the Aruwimi district of the Congo State. They form a branch of the primitive pygmy negroid race, and appear to be divided into groups, each with its own chief. Of all African “dwarfs” the Akka are believed the best representatives of the “little people” mentioned by Herodotus. Giovanni Miani, the Italian explorer who followed Schweinfurth, obtained two young Akka in exchange for a dog and a calf. These, sent to Italy in 1873, were respectively 4 ft. 4 in. and 4 ft. 8 in. high, while the tallest seen by Schweinfurth did not reach 5 ft. None of the four Akka brought to Europe in 1874 and 1876 exceeded 3 ft. 4 in. The average height of the race would seem to be somewhat under 4 ft., but sufficient measurements have not been taken to allow of a conclusive statement. Schweinfurth says the Akka have very large and almost spherical skulls (this last detail proves to be an exaggeration). They are of the color of coffee slightly roasted, with hair almost the same color, woolly and tufted; they have very projecting jaws, flat noses and protruding lips, which give them an “ape-like” appearance. Marked physical features are an abdominal protuberance which makes all Akka look like pot-bellied children, and a remarkable hollowing of the spine into a curve like an S. Investigation has shown that these are not true racial characteristics, but tend to disappear, the abdominal enlargement subsiding after some weeks of regular and wholesome diet. The upper limbs are long, and the hands, according to Schweinfurth, are singularly delicate. The lower limbs are short, relatively to the trunk, and curve in somewhat, the feet being bent in too, which gives the Akka a topheavy, tottering gait. There is a tendency to steatopygia among the women. The Akka are nomads, living in the forests, where they hunt game with poisoned arrows, with pitfalls and springs set everywhere, and with traps built like huts, the roofs of which, hung by tendrils only, fall in on the animal. They collect ivory and honey, manufacture poison, and bring these to market to exchange for cereals, tobacco and iron weapons. They are courageous hunters, and do not hesitate to attack even elephants, both sexes joining in the chase. They are very agile, and are said by the neighboring negroes to leap about in the high grass like grasshoppers. They are timid, as children before strangers, but are declared to be malevolent and treacherous fighters. In dress, weapons and utensils they are as the surrounding negroes. They build round huts of branches and leaves in the forest clearings. They seem in no way a degenerate race, but rather a people arrested in development by the forest environment.

Bibliography.—A. de Quatrefages, The Pygmies (1895); G. A. Schweinfurth, Heart of Africa (London, 1873); Dr W. Pleyte, Chapitres supplémentaires du Livre des Morts, traduction et commentaire (Leiden, 1883); Sir H. H. Johnson, Uganda Protectorate (London, 1902).