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Title:Rethinking methods and concepts of anthropological studies on African pygmies' world view: the creator-god and the dead
Author:Sawada, Masato
Periodical:African Study Monographs: Supplementary Issue
Geographic term:Central Africa
Subjects:African religions
Abstract:P. Schebesta, pioneering scholar of the Mbuti pygmies and strongly influenced by W. Schmidt's theory of 'primitive monotheism' and his own background as a Catholic priest, made use of African deities in order to prove the universality of the Christian God. Citing his own ethnographic description of the Efe pygmies (Democratic Republic of Congo) from the late 1990s, the present author emphasizes that the core of the pygmy world view is life after death, which is vividly experienced in occasional interchanges with the dead inhabiting the depth of the forest. Examples from various African pygmies - the Baka in western Congo and Cameroon, the Aka in the Central African Republic and in northern Congo, and the Mbuti in the Ituri forest in the northeastern DRC - also stress the importance of ancestor 'spirits', or the dead, rather than a creator-god or supreme being, in their religious belief. When studying the African world view, misunderstandings surrounding the correspondence between the name and the conception of a 'being' which cannot be perceived by the senses, and the imposition of a Western material/immaterial, natural/supernatural, dichotomy on an African reality, give rise to methodological and conceptual problems. Bibliogr., sum.