This paper describes and analyzes food sharing among the Aka hunter-gatherers in northeastern Congo, based on quantitative data collected during long-term field research. First, the social connotation of the “possession” of food among the Aka is analyzed. Like in other hunter-gatherer societies, Aka “possession” of food can be revealed only through the analysis of actual food sharing process. The “ownership” does not mean the exclusive right over the food, but indicates the right to perform the sharing. The “owners” of food have little room to decide whether food is shared or not. Their main concern about food sharing is how to share it; which parts of food are given to whom. The concept of “ownership” produces the “giver” and “receiver, ” thus connecting food sharing with the social relationship in the Aka society. Second, informal nature of food sharing is described. Fluidity is one of the characteristics of the residential group of the Aka. As camp size and composition vary, the owners change their choice of who the receivers of food are. This choice is not determined by the formal social relationship such as kinship, but by “face-to-face” relationship created in the residential group. This may be one of the core characteristics of food sharing in isolated small group.
This study describes the folk classifications of cultivated plant varieties among the Malo with special reference to their classifications of boyna, taro [Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott] and uutsa, enset [Ensete ventricosum (Welw.) Cheesman.]. The Malo, one of the Omotic-speaking agricultural peoples, live in the steep mountainous area of Southwestern Ethiopia, whose elevations range from 600m to 3, 400m above the sea level. Their population is about 70, 000. The people cultivate about eighty kinds of plants, and give them vernacular names almost in accordance to taxonomic species. However, this classification differs from the botanical taxonomy because it is basically a practical classification based on the way they cultivate and utilize. Thus, I call these vernacular names ‘folk species’. They recognize varieties among the twenty-three folk species which most of the people cultivate. In particular, they recognize a number of varieties among the root and cereal crops which are important staple foods. Furthermore, they classify several major varieties of taro and enset into ‘sub-varieties’ according to the slight differences in color of the petiole or pseudostem. Therefore, there is a tendency for the plants which most of the people cultivate and value highly to be classified in detail. It may be partly due to their interests which vary with the degree of each plant's importance to them. But from my observation in the fields, those plants that are classified in detail exhibit great variation in morphology and color. Then it seems quite natural for them to be classified into such large numbers. Such great variation among cultivated plants is now considered to have been formed in the interactive processes between the human and the plants. I think, in the processes, the selection has been for those plants that are valued highly and paid much attention to. It is indicated by the Malo behavior to their cultivated plants that they add into their varieties' inventory what are considered new to them. In this light, the Malo folk classifications of cultivated plants is thought to be understood as suggesting such selection processes and reflecting the interactive relationships between the people and the plants.
Over the past few decades, a considerable number of studies have been made on the people living around the Omo river in Southwest Ethiopia. However the study of the Banna ethnic group, which lives in the woodland area of the east bank of the Omo, has not been attempted since Ad. Jensen conducted his 40 day research in the 1950s. In this article, I consider some aspects of the relations between the Banna and the Ari through analysis of the oral histories of the bitas, the chiefs of the Banna. The Banna has two chief-lineages, each of which has its own territory: the West, which is divided into three sub-chief (kogo-bita) territories, and the East, divided into five. According to the histories, two Banna chief-lineages seemed to have origins from those of the Ari, a northern neighbouring ethnic group, and both belong to the Gata clan. Banna society is organized into “moieties”, called Binnas and Galabu, and each moiety consists of several clans. On the one hand, the Gata is a representative clan of Binnas from which chiefs come and is one of Banna's largest clans. On the other hand, the Gasi, another large clan, is thought to be at the core of the Galabu moiety. As a result, the Binnas moiety is recognized as the chiefs' moiety, and the Galabu moiety can be thought of as a descendant of proto-Banna or people originating from various sources. When analysing lineage histories that say the bitas immigrated from the Ani to the Banna, we should not ignore details which emphasizes many traits of Ari origin. For example, the founder of the chiefs' lineages, interestingly named Wuloa both in the West and East, brought coffee, iron goods, and pots. All of these items are regarded by Banna people as being Ari technologies. Wuloa of East Banna demanded sheep, not goat, as a sacrifice animal when performing rituals. For the Banna people, sacrificing sheep is an Ari style ritual, contrary to their use of goats. This coincides with the interesting point that people of the Galabu moiety say that the Binnas is of Ari descent, and that only Galabu are pure Banna. In conclusion, I should point out (1) we can understand chiefs' histories as identity-shift stories from Ari to Banna, (2) we can understand the Binnas-Galabu “dualism” as a structure between the chief-related clan group and non-related clan group, and (3) we can find a kind of indigenous typology in their narratives classifying some attributes to the Banna, and others to the Ari.