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Aka-Farmer Relations in the Northwest Congo Basin

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Type: Book Chapter
Author: Bahuchet, Serge; Guillaume, Henri
Book Title: Politics and History in Band Societies
Publisher: Cambridge University
Location: Cambridge, UK
Page(s): 189-211
Date: 1982
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/5929
Sector: Social Organization
Region: Africa
Subject(s): hunters and gatherers
food supply
archaeology
Abstract: "For a variety of reasons, research carried out in central and southern Africa has long ignored the problem of contacts between the Later Stone Age populations of hunter-gatherers and the Iron Age peoples who brought techniques of food production, pottery-making and metallurgy. Recent archaeological research in Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe and more sophisticated methods of dating have begun to provide us with evidence on the antiquity of these contacts, dating in some cases to at least the beginning of the Christian era. The Co-existence of these two modes of existence has consisted not merely in a juxtaposition, but also has involved long-term exchange relations without technological assimilation. The antiquity and persistence of these relations compel us to perceive these foraging societies in a new light. Long assumed to have been on the fringe of history, these societies now appear to have been in contact, yet have nevertheless remained distinct. If some of them enable us to observe ancient forms of social and economic organization, they are by no means fossils of a prehistoric state, magically preserved. It is highly likely that centuries of proximity and contacts have had profound influences on both sides. From this viewpoint, it is clear that we must rely heavily on the findings of archdeology, linguistics and human biology for further insight. The case of the Aka Pygmies illustrates the extent of these contacts. It appears that the western equatorial forest fringe, where the Aka live, was penetrated by Savannah people as early as 2400-500 B.C. This colonization, which took the form of local and progressive migrations rather than a single massive move, was carried out by people, perhaps already Bantu, who made stone tools and pottery, and probably had techniques of food production."

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