« PreviousContinue »
the wise decisions of a responsible govern. ment have now limited the residential period to two years. White man's impetus must be the motive to progress, whereas the Negro will supply the activity to bring final order from chaos. Northern, southern, and eastern Africa have in part been made a white man's country, but the great, steaming equatorial forests will long remain the stronghold of the Negro race, just as they have been the refuge of the Pygmy.
The Origin, Distribution and Classification of Pygmies
Dwarfs are far more widely distributed than any of their respective discoverers supposed, independent or mixed with a taller element throughout a large part of the world. New Guinea, the Philippines, southern Asia and the adjoining islands, all these have their typical Pygmy population, the Asiatic and Oceanic branches called "Negritos," as differentiated from the Africans, the "Negrillos." Distinct traces of them have been found in many regions and MacIver1 reports them to have been fairly numerous Egypt between 6000 and 4000 B.C. In prehistoric times a race of tiny men dwelt together with taller men in northern Switzerland, in France, and elsewhere in Europe. Sergi2 records numbers of small people from the peninsulas and adjacent islands of southern Europe, existing even now. In the south of Italy and in Sardinia nearly 15 per cent of the men are rejected from military service because they fail to measure 5 feet 11⁄2 inches.
If height alone constitutes the determining factor, dwarfs are nowhere scarce, for southern Europe-and now even New York-has a large population of diminutive persons, especially among women, since 4 feet 11 inches (150 cm.) is the maximum height accepted by scientists for "Pygmy-dom."
The records of modern African Pygmies prove so heterogeneous that anthropologists have not yet been able to offer a final opinion as to their classification, although separating them into various groups. For the sake of expediency three large divisions may be recognized: the South African Bushmen, the Batwa of the Central African Lake Region, and the more widely distributed Pygmies of the West African Rain
Forest. (A branch of the latter is the chief concern of this article.)
The Bushmen of South Africa are usually set apart from the other Pygmy stock on account of their wide differentiation. How far this is owing to life in a different environment-for they are now restricted to the arid regions about the Kalahari Desert-or to an intermixture with the Kafirs and Herero, their neighbors, is a question extremely difficult to answer on account of lack of prehistoric evidence. If they had any affiliations with the other Pygmies it may be assumed that a separation took place in very early times.
As regards the Batwa of the Kivu and Tanganyika regions, most of them, according to Czekanowski,3 clearly show the effects of interbreeding with Negro s around them. An apparently purer stock is to be found in the less populated, volcanic regions where they have lived in practical isolation.
3 Jan Czekanowski. Anthropologische-ethnographische Ex
peditionsarbeiten in Öst-Afrika. Zeitschrift für Ethnologie, Vol. 41, pp. 594-595, 1909.
NOMAD DWARFS AND CIVILIZATION
In the third center, the West African forest, the Pygmies are known by several names, depending on the tribe with which they live, most noted being Schweinfurth's "Akkas" (the Mangbetu name), or "TikiTiki" (the Azande term), or "Mambuti" (the name given by natives of the Ituri region and now current with Europeans).
The question arises whether the Pygmies are merely degenerate types of Negroes and therefore of relatively recent origin, or the earliest type from which all taller African races have evolved, or one entirely distinct and as old as any living race. The first hypothesis finds little actual support although Sir Harry Johnston states 1 that "British anthropologists seem to be arriving at the conclusion that the Congo Pygmies do not constitute a homogeneous type of Negro clearly marked off from the main stock in the same way as the South African Bushman. They are rather arrested, infantile, or degenerate groups of the Nilotic or Bantu Negroes produced by the depressing conditions of the dense forest." Sir Harry believes "them in the main to be dwindled descendants of the earliest pioneers of the true Negro stock (as compared with the divergent Bushmen).”
Unfortunately nothing positive is known about the epoch when man first invaded Africa, and palæontological evidence from that country is most unsatisfactory. Even the origin of numerous implements and carvings of stone found in Algeria, across the Sudan, Abyssinia, the Congo Basin, and in South Africa, as well as that of the pictographs from Mauretania and South Africa, is much disputed. Granting that the Pygmies were really the first to roam over much of the eastern portion of the African continent, the theory that tall Negroes evolved from them is rather contradicted by the distribution of both the true Negro and Pygmy stocks. It seems more plausible to assume that Pygmies sprang up at an early period in Asia, accepted by many authorities as the cradle of primitive man. In the successive migrations of the human races remnants of Pygmies could survive to the present day in certain regions where a natural protection favored the preservation of their racial characteristics.
1 Liberia, II, 1906, pp. 887-888.
The third supposition, then, that these African Pygmies are the approximately pure descendants of an extremely ancient race, is perhaps sustained by their morphological characters, and by modern considerations of the controlling factors of dispersal. Mammalian distribution may be called upon to furnish an excellent analogy supporting the fact that they have come to Africa by way of Asia. The okapi and waterchevrotain, whose closest relatives are known to have flourished in the southern portion of Eurasia in Miocene and Pliocene times, are today among the most typical West African forest mammals, and undoubtedly came to the continent from the northeast. Antelopes, which have undergone such a remarkable adaptive radiation in the Ethiopian part of Africa, ranging from the size of a rabbit to that of a bull, have, as generally admitted, also derived their original stock from Eurasia. It has been argued that with the advent in the northeast of the continent of the pastoral Negroes of Hamitic origin, the tiny pioneers were forced to a speedy retreat. The powerful and evidently well-organized "giants" probably showed such pride in the purity of their stock that they refused to enslave the vanquished for fear of sullying their own race. The Pygmies, thus forced to withdraw farther and farther, finally reached Central and South Africa. The northeastern or Ituri section of the West African forest area became the center from which the Pygmies roamed south and west in the wooded portion, a few reaching the Atlantic.1
Personal Experiences with Central African Pygmies
So far the most important information about Central African Pygmies has come from explorers and scientists who gained their knowledge either during rather short visits to Africa, or from a few especially fine individuals exported for exhibition purposes. The American Museum Congo Expedition had penetrated 1400 miles inland to Avakubi, before we finally came across our first Pygmy, who was being unjustly held on
1 The earliest mention of West African dwarfs dates from Andrew Battell's record in 1625, followed in 1670 by that of Dapper, who speaks of the Bakke-Bakke in the kingdom of the great Makoko, situated, according to de Brazza, in the region where in 1865 Du Chaillu discovered his famous Obongos near the Ogowe River.
a charge of murder to shield an important member of another tribe; the victim with an arrow through his heart, had been found dead on the forest trail. The prisoner gladly answered questions in return for plenty of food, and the matted hair clipped from his head was shortly added to our collections.
A few weeks later, a caravan of Bandaka came to Avakubi with rubber and bundles of rattan. Among them were two groups of about fifteen Pygmies each, who, after we had carried on a long and difficult palaver with them, allowed three of their
Joseph, the tall Bantu, belongs to the sturdy race of Bakusu at Stanleyville. Son of a chief, he was a devoted and trustworthy helper, and acted as headman for the American Museum Expedition, playing the part of a peacemaker rather than that of a leader. The short man, Papai, is offspring of a Pygmy mother and a Bantu father, but always resented being called a Pygmy, although according to custom he had been returned to his mother's tribe when a child. During the long years of the expedition this man made many friends among the natives we met. Once the confidence of Pygmies is gained, their friendly off-hand ways are a pleasant introduction to the happy-go-lucky life of these hunting
men and two women to remain with the expedition. Without delay these turned to the task of building a shelter; and in scarcely an hour they had completed oprosite our tents the usual beehive-shaped hut, arranging in shingle fashion the big Phrynium leaves on bent sticks held together with vines. Their rapidity and curious manner of working attracted a merry crowd of porters and members of the expedition. No wonder that later in the evening the leader of the Pygmies complained bitterly to me of the annoyance, and that next morning he and his little band had disappeared! This incident is typical of the difficulty we had at first in keeping the Pygmies with us long enough to study and understand them.
Later we saw several other groups at Avakubi and Medje, and three years later, after our return to the forest from the Sudan and Uele plains, we often had hundreds of the small folk about us. The several years of constant contact and friendship which we had had with the natives spoke well for our reputation, and the Pygmies of Ngayu, Medje, Niapu, and Nala eagerly helped us obtain some of the rarest mammals. Most surprising was the way in which they secured the rare, great scaly anteater (Manis gigantea), and the aard-vark (Orycteropus), the latter a plains animal not known before to occur in the Rain Forest. With swaggering defiance a youngster of only eight or ten years would enter one of the animal's narrow burrows, from 8 to 20 feet in length. Down into the subterranean channel, with his dagger-like knife drawn, he would grope for a victim, while we outside expectantly listened and watched. True to the tradition of the fighting quality of his race, he would not let the battle in the dark go against him-and the creeper he held as a signal for assistance and the long, flexible rattan tied to his belt always proved unnecessary precautions. A lively time would ensue after the animal had been fastened to the rattan, and the crowd without would boisterously begin jerking it from the illsmelling cavern. The little Pygmy hero, pushing and pulling from behind, would finally emerge amid the cheers of his comrades. But as usual the witch doctor took as much of the credit as the plucky boy: had he not foreseen the glad event and specified the most propitious time?
NOMAD DWARFS AND CIVILIZATION
Physical Distinctions between Pygmies
and the Tall Negroes
Descriptions, apparently authoritative, too often make us believe that there are striking differences between Central African Pygmies and the tall agricultural Negroes. But when we come to see crowds containing both Pygmies and tall Negroes, most of the so-called "clear-cut" Pygmy features prove to be individual or regional characteristics. From time to time I heard officials of many years' experience in Central Africa make the sweeping statement that they could pick out a Pygmy from among hundreds of other natives. Sure of proving the contrary, I changed the hairdresses, bark-cloths, amulets, and other decorative features of a number of Pygmies and Bantus. Thus in less than ten minutes it became impossible, or at least very puzzling, for these "experts" to make good their boast; the few physical peculiarities there were had escaped their notice.
The northeastern portion of the Congo Basin now rivals America as a racial melting pot. The incoming northern elements and the Bantu, Nubian, and Hamitic races have all contributed to what might be called a forest type, generally brachycephalic, in which the Pygmy is not a stranger. It is likely that in the future the Pygmy will gradually lose his identity and disappear in this melting pot, not even retaining what is supposed to have been his most obvious character-diminutive stature.
Looking at Pygmies in numbers, we are impressed by the fact that size alone cannot be the criterion for distinction. Of thirty-three adult males measured, none of them exceeding 4 feet, 11 inches, the average was 4 feet, 8 inches, which, with seven tall Pygmies included, at once rose to 4 feet, 10 inches. Emandinia, the chief of the Pygmies of Nala, measured 5 feet, 5 inches, a fair size even for a European. As is the case the world over the women on the whole are shorter than the men, but with the Pygmies the difference is even greater than usual. In not a few instances the striking disparity may be accounted for by the customs prevalent in their intermarriage with the tall Negroes. Women in these regions constitute the only important treasure, and chiefs of the Bantu tribes have never had any compunctions in adding
In the great African forests game animals are few and far between. The experienced Pygmy reads their presence in almost imperceptible traces-a cut leaf or a pebble displaced may be the signal for stealthy pursuit. Climbing trees in his own fashion, he varies his bill of fare with honey of wild bees, a few acrid fruits of rubber vines, and fat young nestlings. Also he traps monkeys, genets, squirrels, and birds in snares skillfully arranged in trees
pretty Pygmy girls to their harems. In most of these cases the sons return to the mother's tribe, whereas the daughters, considered a valuable asset, remain with the agricultural Negroes. These marital relations naturally help to increase the influence and prestige of the Pygmies. On the other hand, it would be "taboo" for a Pygmy to marry a woman of any of his tall friends.
It would be too daring to describe as typical these remnants of a race which has not escaped continued mingling with large neighboring communities. Each successive wave of migrants has naturally left its imprint upon the Pygmies, checking certain somatological characters and molding others. As a result of the intermixture which is continually going on, a regional resemblance to the agricultural Negroes is clearly visible in the physiognomy. Human faces the world over may show the most varied expressions and where people of different racial characters are welded together slowly, it will always be difficult to present general, all-inclusive descriptions. At present no racial characters setting aside a
Permanent assembly camp near the village of Nabodia, an Azande chief at Nala. Along the northern limits of the Rain Forest the Pygmies have already adopted the architectural style of neighboring natives and have completely abandoned the beehive-shaped huts. On this particular occasion every Pygmy had been called in from the hunting camps in the forest, and the photograph shows the most important men and their helpers with whom I made arrangements for assistance in the expedition's work
To celebrate great success in hunting, Pygmies often visit the settlements of the tall Negroes who entertain them according to prevailing customs. In this Makere village they have selected a shady nook in a banana grove from which they sally forth for an occasional dance, even a mother with her tiny baby (right center) taking part. As a rule Pygmies dance singly, the men and women frequently forming separate groups, but there is little social convention among them