The most marvelous people in the world: THE PYGMIES

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The pygmies inhabit, or better said, roam because they migrate always from one locale to another in a fabled country, an extensive territory, in which the trees are as numerous as grains of sand in the ocean, where water is as abundant as in an earthly paradise, where the earth produces in profusion. The hippies who pass (or better said, used to pass through here since those were an earlier time) ask "Is this the NDUYE mission? I would like to visit a Kami (settlement) of Pygmies!"
Primitive civilization
What could be simpler? A small clearing in the jungle about fifty square meters with some five or six little houses whose structure consists of thirty-some sticks about as thick as one's little finger, lashed together with vines, anchored at each end into the earth, forming a half-dome shape.. A series of "tiles" made of broad leaves protect the simple dreams of the most simple-living people in this world. An entrance without a door, a single wall without windows, a dirt floor.
And the chair? And the table? The space is wide enough to accommodate a roasted rat, a monkey haunch, a quarter of an antelope, four tapioca roots, a handful of leaves mashed and seasoned with the stimulating chili known as pili-pili (a small berry)
A naturalistic religiosity
The Pygmies are likeable, astute, and slender. They look at you with mistrust the first time, and the second, but then they become very friendly. They talk, dance and walk at a continual "accelerated" speed while they work more at a slower, more prolonged adagio.
They both respect and revere the human corpse. In order not to disturb its sleep they abandon a settlement and establish another elsewhere.
They obtain coloring from the earth. When they celebrate they disguise themselves artfully and enthusiastically with bizarre drawings of black coloring which they use abundantly, since for them it is the symbol of joy and of life. Their God does not live in the heavens since from there He could not see what was happening in the jungle beneath the trees and beneath the leaves. He exists in the trunks, in the marshes, in the gullies, among the roots. He directs the pygmy's arrow so that the monkey falls at his feet. He startles the antelope so that they end up in the traps that have been prepared. They Pygmies smoke the hallucinogen "Bangi" (marijuana). They suffer from "raspberry" (an illness similar to syphilis but not venereal). They fear the society of "the black population." Their greatest priority is freedom. They own nothing, yet they have thousands of hectares of jungle. In two hours they can have a new house, built only by the wife. They have two splayed feet that trot tirelessly for kilometers like a two-speed engine. An African folktale says that, on Saturday, the angel in charge of cleaning up God's workshop was busy sweeping and putting all in order. When he had finished there was a pile of trash left over from the creation of animals and of man. The angel did not know where to throw it away and went to ask God. God decided to create another man but realized there was not enough raw material. So He blew on it. And all that leftover material fell into the equatorial jungle giving rise to the tribe of the smallest men in the world.
Our Pygmies
In the Nduye mission there are few true Pygmies: the majority are intermingled now with other races. These are called pigmoids. To say that the Nduye Pygmies are primitive would be to exaggerate the reality. To say that they are an advanced civilization would be a poor joke. They have entered into contact with western civilization and are absorbing a small quantity of it but only in certain aspects. They continue to favor nudity, the jungle, and the greatest simplicity. On the jungle paths I often find men from whose neck hangs a the tooth of a boar or a leopard and women with odd earrings. In their upper lip the women have a small hole through which they put a wisp of straw or a colorful flower or a splinter of wood dyed black.
Extraordinary ability
The Pygmies know secrets of the dressmakers of Paris. With the help of a bit of elephant tusk whose base has been carved into a chess board, they pound with great skill certain barks and create Lines scarves (as in the original) perfumed by the forest. They know how to enhance them with various drawings whose coloring is extracted from certain plants. Very skilled hunters, they know how to poison their arrows without poisoning the meat that they obtain from it.
They often come to visit me with a bow wrapped in the tail of a macaque, and some arrows; they exchange all of it for a few coins to buy a drink or some cigarettes to warm them when the sun goes down and fend off the night dampness.
For the Pygmies the jungle is like their house. It is the temple in which they pray to their God: the heaven. It is the altar for their sacrifices, the coal that is always burning, an inseparable friend, a small bit of wood to share with everyone the simplicity of life
Author: Father Cesare Fumagali
Translator to Spanish: Julián Azcona                                                                                                                    Translator to English: Beverly Enwall