In the Ngombe Tradition

In the Ngombe Tradition

In the Ngombe Tradition

In the Ngombe Tradition

Excerpt

Taditional research in cultural dynamics manifests two characteristics which may tend to bias theoretical conclusions. Problems of change have been emphasized over problems of stability; and the situations investigated are normally those in which European influences play a primary role. Only seldom are hypotheses tested in situations which do not involve these special conditions. The present study investigates a situation in which cultural continuity is a focal problem and in which European contact is not the only external factor recognized.

The Ngombe peoples are scattered over the northwestern part of the Republic of Congo, in the Province de l'Equateur. The majority of these 150,000 Lingombe-speaking people inhabit the swampy forests on either side of the Congo River, between Lisala and Coquilhatville, into which area they migrated from the north and cast in a very general movement that was going on until the Belgians halted it in the present century. Others live in the forested country up the Mongala and Ubangi Rivers. Still others, now only enclaves surrounded by Sudanic-speaking peoples, occupy the hilly grassland with forested valleys far to the north in the Territory of Bosobolo. From these historically related populations two groups were selected for study: the Gonji Ngombe of the Congoforest, and the Moswea Ngombe of the grassland region near the Ubangi River in Bosobolo Territory.

Previous to the field investigations upon which this study is based, no professional ethnographic research had been conducted among a Ngombe group, although a number of articles by missionaries and administrators report on some aspects of Ngombe life. Notable among these is a chapter on the Ngombe idea of God by J. W. Davidson, a Protestant missionary for more than twenty years among the Ngombe south of the Congo River. Missionaries . . .

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