Bwiti: An Ethnography of the Religious Imagination in Africa

Abstract

The Fang are a highly mobile forest people inhabiting parts of the interior of Gabon, the Cameroons, and Spanish Guinea. Traditionally they selected a site, settled, erected villages, stayed a few years and then moved on.
They had a strong sense of history through ancestry, frequently being able to recount a family tree of fifteen to twenty generations, although some of the more remote genealogies tended to become mythic in character. When strangers met they went through their genealogies so that they would eventually be able to share in the mutual recognition that "we cam from the same stomach," a guarantee of instant hospitality.
There was, likewise, a strong sense of place. A bewildering number of coordinates derived from every imaginable watercourse -- and portion of watercourse -- oriented the individual to his large, but manageable universe. Meeting a stranger the Fang would ask, "friend, from what river do you drink?"

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