Among the Lega, who occupy a vast forest area in the eastern part of Zaïre, we sometimes find a cord suspended in the meeting house of a village. On that cord (mutánga in Lega), such trifle things as a leaf, a charcoal, teeth of a dog, a feather of a cock, miniatures of an ax, a stick, etc. are fastened. We may take them for mere rubbish, but in reality each of them corresponds to a proverb. For example, teeth of a dog are tied to that cord to show the proverb saying “the teeth of a dog shine, but they eat dirty things”. Indeed, a man can not be judged by externals; an amiable person may be black-hearted. The author, during his stay in Hombo-Otobora area in North and South Kivu Regions in 1989, had opportunities to study this visual way of showing proverbs. The population among whom he made research is called Balega-Bakano. They are said to be of Bahavu origin, seem to speek a genuine Lega, though many of them are bilingual with Tembo. Analysing the mutánga which an informant made for the author, a total of 48 proverbs are described in this paper. Of the suspended objects, about 70% are natural and the rest are manufactured. In analysis, we realize how carefully the Lega observe the things, natural or artificial, around them. They see into the nature of a thing, and express it in a proverb by alluding to human affaires. The Lega can be characterized as a “proverb people”, who assert that one can not speak without knowledge of the proverb. In that point, mutánga which “strings proverbs”, should be an essence of the Lega spiritual world.
In this paper I present an account of contemporary inter-ethnic conflict in the Lower Omo Valley based on my own experience of KOEGU society. There exist almost ten small-scale ethnic groups in this area which have a population of no more than fifteen thousand. For some centuries, being disunited and generated repeatedly through migrations, conflicts, and contacts, they have formed their own culture and society. Ethnic identity of the KOEGU is also determined by some interethnic relations around them. The KOEGU have been living under the KARA domination. Both of them were recognized as one group, the KARO, by neighbouring people and Ethiopian highlanders because of their close connection. The bond-partnership between them made these two groups one; however, they have some taboos on drinking and sexual relations and marriage. The KARA have been placing the KOEGU socially inferior position as the “others”, in order to dominate them and get ivory and leopard skins for trade. Their relationship maintaining the ethnic-boundary between them can be called “annexation”. In 1988, the KOEGU and the KARA quarrelled with one another about the cultivated lands. The KOEGU broke off the connection, or “annexation” with the KARA, instead of that, the KOEGU entered into a new alliance with the NYANGATOM. This relation is different from the former one in terms of the ethnic-boundary between two groups. The NYANGATOM would not treat the KOEGU as the “others”, that means its boundary will be removed through the intermarriage and the relations with no taboos. This relation is named “assimilation”. These two patterns, “annexation” and “assimilation”, are useful for understanding the practical process of expansion and migration, as well as the dynamism of ethnic groups in the network of inter-ethnic relations.
This paper discusses the processes of woodland environment formation in Western and Northwestern Zambia in a part of the eastern marginal zone of the Kalahari Sands which spread over the inland Central and Southern Africa. Present-day climatic condition of the area is considered adequate for the existence of dry evergreen forests contrary to actually dominant open deciduous woodlands. Small patches of dry evergreen forest are scattered in woodland on the plateau composed of the Kalahari Sands with very porous and oligotrophic Arenosols. On the other hand the adjacent bedrock plateau which have a little more nutritious Ferralsols is covered extensively by mosaic of deciduous woodland and cultivated land. Vegetation-ecological survey has demonstrated that existing small dry evergreen forest patches show very stable community structure maintained by natural renewal in contrast with repeatedly intervened structure of woodland communities. Palaeoenvironmental analysis based on surface-geological, geomorphological, and pedological evidences has concluded the prevalence of dryer climate in Latest Pleistocene time around 20, 000y. B. P., when the uppermost member of the Upper Kalahari Sands were redeposited on the plateau, and the following climatic humidification around the Pleistocene-Holocene boundary about 10, 000y. B. P., when the lower terrace was formed along the Kabompo River. Radiocarbon dating of the charcoal-rich layers which, intercalated in surface sands under woodland, indicate the occurrence of extensive burning provides about 2, 500y. B. P. and 1, 000y. B. P. An evidence of accelerated erosion due to deforestation since 400y. B. P. has been given in the Nyika Plateau, a famous former iron-smelting zone on the Zambia-Malawi border. All the material as above is concordant with previously-known palynological and archaeological records and supports a hypothesis as follows. Dry evergreen forest seems to have (re) appeared in the area in humified climate of around 10, 000y. B. P. and to have gradually replaced by deciduous woodland mainly through human activity during recent thousands of years, particularly several hundred years. Although slight climatic aridification in the time may have affected the vegetational change, arrival of Later Iron Age farmers and diffusion of a type of slush-and-burn cultivation such as citemene system have more greatly contributed to the recession of Zambezian dry evergreen forest and appearance and maintenance of some types of open deciduous woodlands. Cultivators' preference of Ferralsols rather than very porous and oligotrophic Arenosols has resulted in the uneven remaining of small patches of dry evergreen forest on the plateau composed of the Kalahari Sands, although the Kalahari Sands' water-retaining character in dry season may provide a little suitable condition for existence of forest.
Dans la région forestière de l'ouest de la côte de Guinée, la plupart des ethnies ont des sociétés secrètes d'un même type généralement appelées Poro. Chez les Dan aussi, it y a une société secrète masculine nommée G_??_ possédant les fonctions politiques, économiques et judiciaires comme dans le cas de Poro. Les Dan ont de l'inclination à expliquer quelques aspects de la société G_??_ par le moyen des expressions verbales qui donnent des images spatiales aux allocutaires. Cet essai analyse trois images spatiales employées par les Dan de Côte d'Ivoire (région de Danané) dans les narrations de la société G_??_. Premièrement, ils expliquent l'origine de G_??_ par l'image concernant deux points cardinaux: dhuö et sia. Le mot dhuö signifie “nord”, “est” et aussi “en haut”. Selon la cosmologie dan, tous les êtres puissants, à savoir les Dan eux-mêmes, l'institution de G_??_, les Malinké et les Européens sont “descendus” de dhuö (nord/est/en haut). C'est ainsi que G_??_ doit refuser tout cc qui est d'origine de dhuö sauf soi-même pour maintenir son régime actuel en pays dan. Deuxièmement, les Dan expliquent le régime de G_??_ par une image centripète. Dans cet espace imaginaire, G_??_ est le “centre” ou “noyau” de la localité qui absorbe “ses étrangers” sans cesse. Et toute la population doit “entourer” ou “se lover en spirales autour de” G_??_. Ce “noyau” représente d'abord le lignage privilégié qui est fondateur du pays et détenteur du fétiche et du statut de Grand Maître de G_??_. Mais dans un sens plus profond, it signifie “le noyau du secret” de G_??_ même. Troisièmement, l'autorité de G_??_ est exprimée par l'image spatiale de la chaîne interminable de “devant” et de “derrière”. D'après cette image, tous les guerriers d'un pays se disposent en chaîne selon les degrés relatifs de “devant”-“derrière” pour défendre “le plus derrière” qui est G_??_. Mais, cette même structure imaginaire existe aussi au sein de G_??_ en tant que chaîne officielle de “remplacant” et de “remplacé”. Dans cette image plus essentielle que les deux premières, on doit cependant s'arrêter juste devant le dernier maillon de cette chaîne sans jamais y parvenir. Parce que ce “vrai derrière de G_??_” ou “vrai noyau de G_??_” est justement “l'intérieur” du “secret”. Dans le vocabulaire dan, “secret” et “derrière” sont des attributs du même concept zü comme de zlöödhε. Les narrations de la société secrète G_??_ chez les Dan reposent sur ces deux concepts fondamentaux et les images spatiales qu'ils produisent.