Mongo - Religion and Expressive Culture



Ideological and moral principles and social reality are mirrored in the culture of the Mongo, particularly in their oral literature, which includes histories, folktales, proverbs, poems, songs, and greetings. Traditional folktales, which were usually centered on a moral or a piece of wisdom, were an essential part of a child's education, and proverbs dealt with all aspects of life, although the ideals of mutual obligation, respect for authority, and the importance of the family were particularly stressed.

The worship of ancestors played a central part in the traditional religion of the Mongo. People believed in a number of different deities and spirits, including a Supreme Being, butthese were approachable only through the intervention of deceased elders and relatives. Prayers for healthy children, success in battle, or safe journeys were therefore addressed to the ancestors. The practice of witchcraft was also a part of Mongo culture. Villagers attributed most types of misfortune—including illness, infertility, bad luck, or extreme poverty—to spells or charms in operation against them. These, in turn, were most often attributed to a competitor's greed, ambition, or hatred. At the same time, significant good fortune or success was perceived to be linked to the possession of beneficial charms and amulets, of which the witch doctor possessed more than anyone else in the village.


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