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Introduction / History
The name Mangbetu refers to a large people group of the northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The major subgroups are the Mangbetu, Meegye, Makere, Malele, Popoi and Abelu. The Mangbetu area is one of both forest and savannah. The economy is a mixture of agriculture, small animal husbandry, hunting, fishing and gathering. Cash crops have included palm oil, coffee, peanuts, rice, bananas, and maize.
Until very recently, the Mangbetu were one of a small number of Congolese peoples who paid death compensations. A person who died was considered to have done so "in the hands of" his father's family group. This meant that the father's group had to compensate the mother's group, regardless of the circumstances of death. Their traditional belief system includes a complex of ideas about witchcraft and sorcery. One such idea is that the power of witchcraft resides in an appendage of the small intestine, which is inherited by girls from their mother and by boys from their father.
A Mangbetu kingdom was already highly developed at the time of first contact with Europeans. However, compared to some of their neighbors, the group has advanced little in the areas of education and economics.
A Bible translation project in Mangbetu was started in 1980, and three booklets of New Testament selections have been published. Although literacy rather than translation was emphasized in the 1990s, translation work has begun again.
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