1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bambute

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

BAMBUTE (sometimes incorrectly called Batwa), a race of pygmies of the Semliki Forest, on the western borders of the Uganda Protectorate between Albert Nyanza and Albert Edward Nyanza. They probably form merely a branch of the pygmy race of Equatorial Africa, represented farther west by H. von Wissmann’s Batwa (q.v.). Their complexion varies from reddish-yellow to brownish-black, with head-hair often of a russet-brown, and body-hair, black and bristly on upper lip, chin, chest, axillae and pubes, yellowish and fleecy on cheeks, back and limbs. Their average height is 4 ft. 9 in. Even when forced to keep clean, their skins give out a rancid odour, something (Sir H. H. Johnston says) between the smell of a monkey and a negro. Their faces are remarkable for the long upper lip, and the bridgeless nose with enormous alae (the cartilage of the nose above the nostrils). Like the Batwa they are nomad hunters, building only huts of sticks and leaves, and living in the forest, where they hunt the largest game with no weapon but a tiny bow from which they shoot poisoned arrows. Sir H. H. Johnston states that the Bambute have a good idea of drawing, and with a sharpened stick can sketch in sand or mud the beasts and birds known to them. The Bambute do not tattoo or scar, nor have they any love of ornament, wearing no ear-rings, necklets, anklets, &c. The upper incisors and canines are sharpened to a point. In the forests they go quite naked. They speak a corrupted form of the dialects of their negro neighbours. They have a peculiar way of singing their words. Their voices are low and musical and the pronunciation is singularly staccato, every syllable being separately uttered. They show no trace of spirit or ancestor worship, but have some idea that thunder, lightning and rain are manifestations of an Evil Power, and that the dead are reincarnated in the red bush-pig. They have no tribal government, accepting as temporary lawgiver some adept hunter. Marriage is by purchase; polygamy seems to exist, but the domestic affections are strong. The dead are buried in dug graves, and food, tobacco and weapons are often placed with the corpse. The Bambute are very musical, though they are uninventive as regards instruments. They have many songs which they sing well and they dance with spirit.

See A. de Quatrefages, The Pygmies (Eng. edit. 1895); Sir H. H. Johnston, Uganda Protectorate (1902).