Turnbull's work provides exceptionally lucid, sensitive and rich ethnographic accounts of Mbuti Pygmies. His book, The Forest People (1961) and the more detailed ethnographic monograph, Wayward Servants (1965), have been so popular that no comparable ethnography has come along to replace them. As a result, most individuals, including anthropologists, view Mbuti culture as synonymous with African Pygmy culture, just as !Kung culture has become synonymous with "Bushman" culture. Several monographs on other African Pygmy populations (e.g. Bailey 1991, Bahuchet 1985, Hewlett 1991) have recently been published but they are more problem -oriented and specialized. However, the recent work has contributed significantly to our understanding of African pygmy populations and therefore enables us to place the Mbuti within comparative perspective. This chapter utilizes the recent research to describe some of the differences and similarities between four African Pygmy populations, and offers preliminary hypotheses to explain the diversity and commonalties.
Unfortunately, no term has emerged to replace "Pygmy," a derogatory term that emphasizes short stature. For the remainder of this chapter, "forest forager" is utilized rather than "Pygmy." African tropical forest foragers generally have the following characteristics: 1) spend at least four months of the year in the tropical forest hunting and gathering; 2) have a strong identity with and preference for forest life; 3) maintain many-stranded social and economic relations with neighboring farming populations; and 4) practice important ritual activities associated with elephant hunting. There are at least 10 ethnolinguistically distinct populations of forest foragers in Central Africa and they are unevenly distributed throughout the Congo-Zaire basin: the Efe, Mbuti, Aka and Tswa are found in Northeastern Zaire (see Ichikawa and Terashima, this volume for discussion of Mbuti and Efe); the Aka and Benzele live in Northern Congo and Southwestern Central African Republic; the Baka are in Southeastern Cameroon, Northern Gabon and Northern Congo (see Joiris, this volume for discussion of this group); the Gyelli and Tikar are smaller groups in Western Cameroon; and, the Bongo are in Southeastern Gabon and Central Congo.
While there are cultural commonalties between these foraging populations, the cultural differences are dramatic and striking1. I have selected the Aka, Baka, Mbuti and Efe for comparison because they are some of . . . . . . . .

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