327 Akowa Pygmies live in the coastal forested areas of Port-Gentil , Omboue and Gamba (Gabon)
The Akowa have recently changed from being nomadic hunter-gatherers to settled villagers with subsistence agriculture supplemented by hunting. In the early 20th century they were fully nomadic and physically distinct from their Bantu neighbours, but by the mid-20th century they were starting to settle and to become physically indistinguishable.
The Akowa Pygmies together with the Babongo are the originators of the Bwiti religion and the use of iboga, said to have been discovered a thousand years ago. The ceremonies are always led by a healer called N’ganga who is the spiritual leader of the community. Men’s rituals are led by a male N’ganga and women’s rituals by a female. There are separate temples for men and women and the instruments used are also different; the main instrument being an 8-string Ngombi harp for women and Mongongo mouth-bow for men. Lots of percussion, hand clapping, and singing accompanies the ritual which has been said to help induce trance states.