Bird stories, Brown-chested Alethe (Alethe poliocephala)

There is a food taboo for this totemic animal of a particular clan of the Mbuti hunter-gatherers of the Congo. The clan members cannot eat this animal called ngini-so (things prohibited), or ngini-so-su (things prohibited to us), which symbolize their membership of a particular clan. Should one eat such a prohibited animal, his teeth would fall out.


In Mbuti folklore associations with other animals include those of brown-chested alethes (mopie) with bush pigs, Senegal coucals with giant forest hogs, efunbe (unidentified) with forest buffaloes, amabaoha (a species of Cuculidae) with leopards, manbueituri (unidentified) with Nile crocodiles, white-tailed bulbul (amepiya) with honeybees, a species of flycatchers (Stizorphy fraseri, called manbuapiso) with a major species of stingless bees (apiso, Meliponula bocandei) and fire-crested alethe (bunjaku) with army ants.

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ICHIKAWA, M. THE BIRDS AS INDICATORS OF THE INVISIBLE WORLD: ETHNO-ORNITHOLOGY OF THE MBUTI HUNTER-GATHERERS. African Study Monographs, Suppl. 25: 105 – 121, March 1998


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