By Titilayo Kupoliyi

Beauty, it is said is in the eyes of the beholder.

What appears to be a major deformity of the skull is considered a symbol of great beauty and social standing in the society by the Mangbetu people of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Located at the remotest parts of northeastern DRC, the Mangbetu people have a distinctive physical appearance that is largely highlighted by their elongated heads.

While some people may view this physical feature as a serious deformity, the Mangbetu people consider it a symbol of beauty, prestige, and power, thus they artificially elongate their skulls.

Mangbetu says the brain, being an elastic organ, can grow or expand into the desired shape without any form of damage or deformity.

Nonetheless, the cosmetic changes done to the skull are permanent. Mangbetu women also wear a distinctive coiffure to highlight their artificially elongated skulls.

Although the practice was outlawed by European colonialists, who invaded the country in the 1950s, some members of the Mangbetu tribe still practice it to date.

While some people are opposed to this practice, fearing that it might affect a child’s brain development, experts have ruled out such possibilities, insisting that the brain is capable of adapting and developing into any shape of the skull.

The Mangbetu refers to an amalgam of linguistically and culturally-related people in the northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

The group comprises the Mangbetu, Meegye, Makere, Malele, Popoi and Abelu. The language of the Mangbetu is referred to as Kingbetu.

The Mangbetu are found deep in the rainforest area and they engage in animal husbandry, hunting, fishing and gathering. They can be found between the Ituri and Uele Rivers near the towns of Poko, Isiro and Rungu. They are said to have initially come from modern-day Sudan before migrating.

While settling down in their current location, the Mangbetu established their kingdom under Nabiembali who had warriors. He subdued various tribes and ruled over them.

Among the Mangbetu, the father’s family paid death compensations regardless of the circumstances surrounding the death of the person.

This compensation is as a result of the belief in witchcraft believed to be inherited by girls from their mothers and by boys from their fathers.

Mainly, a patrilineal ethnic group, the Mangbetu engages in the cultivation of yams, rice, palm oil, maize, and bananas.

The men are the only ones allowed to milk cows. Livestock is seen as a symbol of wealth and is used to pay bride price.

Just like many other African ethnic groups, the Mangbetu believe in a god called Kilima or Noro.

They believed that human souls could be reborn as animals.

When the Europeans came, they observed that the Mangbetu were sophisticated politically and had highly developed art and music.

Iron spears, sculpted pots, knives and copper lances are among the tools found in the kingdom, evidence of technological advancement then.

Subscribe to our Telegram and YouTube Channels also join our Whatsapp Update Group


Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *