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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Folk etiology among the Baka, a group of hunter-gatherers in the African rainforest
Author:Sato, Hiroaki
Periodical:African Study Monographs: Supplementary Issue
Geographic terms:Cameroon
Congo (Republic of)
folk medicine
Abstract:The Baka, also known as Pygmies, are a group of hunter-gatherers living in the tropical rain forest from northwestern Congo to southeastern Cameroon. Based on fieldwork in the early 1990s in Gomani settlement near Souanke town (northwestern Congo) and the Baka settlement near Ndongo village on the border with Congo in southeastern Cameroon, the author describes the structure of traditional medical belief and knowledge, with special reference to etiology. He found 89 folk illness terms. Illnesses are classified into three groups according to the type of cause: contact with various pathogenic substances, violation or sorcery (8 illnesses), spontaneous development or specific causes (55 illnesses), and purely spontaneous (26 illnesses). In the Baka folk etiology, the naturalistic notion that certain natural entities are responsible for the occurrence of illness is more predominant than the personalistic notion that certain agents, such as sorcerers, evil spirits and ghosts, are the cause. Of the various pathogenic substances, (forest) animals are major pathogens. The Baka think that almost all illnesses may develop spontaneously as well. Their search for pathogens is intended not to remove them or cut off contact with them but rather to seek specific remedies. Bibliogr., notes, sum.