Categories: Society & Culture

“And The First Human Was Named Baatsi” — The Creation Story of The Efe Pygmies of DR Congo

The efe pygmies of DR Congo believe that a god named Arebate created the world and is the supreme being. He is identified with the forest, since everything is dependent on it.

The efe pygmies of DR Congo believe that a god named Arebate created the world and is the supreme being. He is identified with the forest, since everything is dependent on it. They only call upon Arabate during times of crisis. He is usually summoned by a trumpet blast, which is supposed to imitate his voice.

Efe People

The Efé pygmies are a group of part-time hunter-gatherer people living in the Ituri Rainforest of the Democratic Republic of Congo. They are considered by mitochondrial DNA haplotype analysis to be one of the oldest races on earth.

The Efé are Pygmies, and one of the shortest peoples in the world. The men grow to an average height of 4 ft. 8 in, and women tend to be about 2 inches shorter.

Efe camp in the Ituri Forest, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Image © Britannica

Ota Benga, known for being featured in a human zoo exhibit in 1906 at the Bronx Zoo, was a pygmy from Congo and like his clansmen he too was short, standing at just 4 ft, 11 inches.

Ota Benga exhibited alongside a monkey in Bronx Zoo, New York

The Efe’s are forest dwellers, with most relying on hunting and gathering for survival. Some may also farm in the middle of the forest.

Creation Story

God (Arebate) created the world and the first man whom he made from clay with the moon’s help.

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After kneading the man’s body, Arebati covered the clay with a skin and then poured blood into it to bring the first human to life. God called the first human Baatsi.

In the beginning there was no death, when people grew old he made them young again.

Then God whispered into his ear telling him to beget many children, but to impress upon the children the following rule: from all trees you may eat, but not from the Tahu tree.

Baatsi had many children and he made them obey the rule. When he became old he retired to heaven. His children obeyed the rule and when they grew old they too retired to heaven.

But one day a pregnant woman craved the tahu fruit and asked her husband get some for her, but he refused. But when she persisted, the husband gave in. He crept into the forest at night, picked the Tahu fruit, peeled it, and hid the peel in the bush. The moon saw this and told the creator.

The creator was so angry with humans because of this that he sent death as a punishment to men.

Beliefs

The Efe Pygmies believe that “forest spirits” influence the souls of the dead. They believe that after Pygmies die, their borupi, which means “rhythm” or “life,” is carried away from the body by a fly. They believe the fly takes them to the creator, “Arabate”.

Uzonna Anele

Anele is a web developer and a Pan-Africanist who believes bad leadership is the only thing keeping Africa from taking its rightful place in the modern world.

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Uzonna Anele