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CENTRAL AFRICAN HUNTER-GATHERER RESEARCH TRADITIONS - page 22 / 43

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he found foragers to be relatively independent of farmers.  

With the exception of the Twa in Rwanda and Burundi where a caste system exists, all ethnographically known forest foragers exchange foods with farmers to varying degrees, and none subsist by hunting and gathering alone. It is not clear whether this demonstrates forager dependence on farmers or simply an efficient alternative to full-time foraging. Based on his examination of Mbuti subsistence, Ichikawa (1983) concluded that a hunting and gathering life would be possible in the Ituri Forest from a caloric viewpoint, but very challenging, without their exchange relationship with agriculturalists. Takeuchi (1995) found that Aka in northern Congo desired farmer carbohydrates more than farmers desired Aka forest products. Farmers knew the forest well and were able to obtain enough game meat on their own while the Aka desired and were dependent upon farmers for manioc and other carbohydrates. Bailey et al. (1989), proponents of the wild yam hypothesis, felt the relationship benefits foragers. It is also worth noting that several ethnic groups of farmers live in the Congo Basin forest without relationships with foragers and that not all families in villages associated with foragers have relations with foragers. But little is known about the origin, development and history of forager-farmer relations. Limited archaeology and recent genetic data suggest foragers lived in forested areas without farmers for a long time.

Finally, political-economic inequality in forager-farmer relations is a crucial issue in the Congo Basin today.  Forest foragers are often denied access to health and education services in several Congo Basin countries because they are viewed as “primitive.” The UN and other non-government agencies are involved with trying to alleviate the marginalization of African “Pygmies.”  Lewis (2001), Kenrick (2001), Joiris (2003) and Rupp (2003) document the various

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