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May 02 2013

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Bird stories, the Great Blue Turaco

There is a food taboo for this totemic animal of a particular clan. 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.



There are other birds avoided as ekoni, which may cause difficulty on delivery or deformation of the baby born from the parents who have eaten the birds of ekoni during pregnancy. Great blue turacoes and certain species of the birds of prey (nlukue) are such examples of ekoni. Moreover, young parents who have never lost their offspring are prohibited from eating three species of francolins (endonbi, ekonbi and koryakorya). These are called ekusa birds, which may cause the death of offspring if eaten by such young parents.

Great blue turacoes and a species of Muscicapidae called cheecheechee are said to be the birds of okapis. They inform the okapis of danger, the former by crying loudly on the treetop over the okapis, and the latter by making a noisy ” cheecheechee” call.

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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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