The Mongo people of Central Africa
Today, our spotlight is on the Mongo people of Central Africa.
A Bantu ethnic group, Mongo people comprise the second largest ethnic group in the Democratic Republic of Congo with a population of about 12 million. The Mongo people live mostly along a region north of the Kasai and Sankuru rivers, south of the main Congo River bend.
The Mongo people are a diverse collection of sub-ethnic groups that share a common belief that they are the descendants of a single ancestor named Mongo, 101 Last Tribes outlined. Traditional religion of the Mongo people is largely one of ancestor worship, belief in nature spirits, fertility rites, with shamanic practices such as magic, sorcery, and body scarification,” the nowaraga website says.
The Mongo language has about 200 dialects, found clustered regionally as well as based on Mongo sub-ethnic groups (source).
Traditions have been impacted by rule of the Belgian colonialists, including culture and religion. Many have converted to Christianity, and there has historically been some resentment between Christian and Muslim ethnic groups in neighboring regions. Slavery, imported diseases, and colonial rule all caused suffering and “decimated the mongo people over the colonial history (source).” Still, the worship of ancestors plays a central part in the traditional religion of the Mongo. They believe in a number of different deities and spirits, including a Supreme Being approachable only through the intervention of deceased relatives.
Agriculture was and remains an important part of the Mongo people’s lives, and they gather a wide range of fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, snails, roots, and more. Yams and bananas are major crops.
The Mango people’s historical roots aren’t clear, but they likely settled in the Congo in the early centuries of the first millennium (source). May their ancestors always protect them.
Image of A shaman woman of the Mongo people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo proudly shows her “3rd eye”. Circa 1937 via nowaraga.com