Balengue people

Balengue / Lengue


Lengue people, or Balengue, are an African ethnic group, members of the Bantu group, who are indigenous to Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. Their indigenous language is Lengue.

Although in many sources they are referred to as Ndowe or "Playeros" (Beach People in Spanish), one of several peoples on the Rio Muni coast, (for exemple in that IS NOT TRUE.

Balengue people live together geographically in the same area of Ndowe. But Balengue people it's not included inside the Ndowe people group.

IMPORTANT NOTE: All the information we have gathered is in Castilian Spanish language.
We have translate this information through GOOGLE TRANSLATOR so, this information could have many grammar and semantic mistakes.

Access to original document / Castilian Spanish


Many circumstances revolve around the Balengue people that denote or want to imply their difference with the Ndowe people, as has been believed. This affirmation that the Ndowe and the Balengue are two different ethnocultural groups, is supported by both, although there are those who maintain that in distant times both groups had a common trunk from which the Balengues derived. They separated when they entered the Muni Estuary, in the year 1600 (an estuary of which the Balengues claim to be the first discoverers) and went out to sea through the current territory of Gabon.

Balengue people


The word Balengue tries to mean wandering, vagabond. They recognize it that way themselves, but they come calling themselves:

Indeed, it seems that at first the Balengues were assimilated with the:

It also seems that the Balengues joined the Basec, with whom they entered Guinea, after the Ndowes did, and settled on the coast; at the second entrance to the Ndowes, they already found the Balengues and respected their places of settlement. It seems that on their pilgrimage along the coast of Guinea they had clashes with the Bissio, but they managed to establish peace; like Balengues, they had dealt well with the Ndowes before, and now they served as mediators between the Ndowes and the Bissio. Later they fought with the Fang, who were taking the places they were occupying.

Balengue people


The true groups that made up the previous Molengue people were:
1. Mongangue
2. Madigi
3. Lambani




The Molengue was a people reluctant to live in large agglomerations or together in a common location. They lived, and still live, separated in families or in family groups. What makes it a town that is made up of as many villages as there are families or family groups that make it up.
The Molengue people were characterized by their great knowledge of the elements of nature, especially water, not necessarily the sea; from the forest (which he used to plant his food and get his game, mainly), and from the river to fish.



Like almost all Bantu towns, the house (dironga) of the Molengue people was generally small, rectangular in shape, with a very low, gabled roof.
The construction material consisted of columns, trusses, and pole straps; walls of tree bark and some leaves; the roof was made of ñipas and leaves linked by special and well-known lianas.
The house lacked all kinds of compartments, no windows. It had, ordinarily, two doors: one front and one back; they were small, only allowed in and out. The number of beds in a house indicated the number of its inhabitants.
Some might allow a kitchen (ditumbala) for the wife and a shed attached to the kitchen (ndebo).
The houses were built in two parallel rows, separated by an interior space, street or patio, called musengue.

Balengue people


As a very tight community, they had almost everything in common, such as:

For the Molengue, the forest was like the sea for the Annobonese. There were no secrets for him in the forest. The forest was like a living being whose elements emitted messages of well-deciphered codes and very clear understanding for the Molengue. The movements betrayed the proximity of a tree with honey; the trace, no matter how subtle it was, announced the passage of a certain animal, even with the ability to determine the day of the last step, the species and whether it was solitary, in pairs or in a herd.
He knew the usable utility contained in each plant species, as fruits or as medicine, or as an element that facilitates man's hunting, when used by certain animals or certain birds.
Through the changes of leaves and fruits, the Molengue knew what utility to give to the forest at each moment; that is, he knew what to get out of value. So the forest not only served him for hunting, but he used it to complete his needs in life.




The traditional organization of the Molengue people was included within the general trend of the Bantu family. In other words, regardless of the authority of the home held by the father, in the ancestral Molengue community the highest authority ordinarily fell to the man of the oldest age group. This oldest man in the group was called a morungue.
The morungue had to be, in addition to the oldest, a good connoisseur of herbs and their handling; The forest, as for all Molengue, should not contain secrets or mysteries for him. His virtues for good coexistence must be extreme.
The authority of the Molengue was local, unlike that of the mutumbale who was the superior of the tribe.



The modungu and the mutumbale, together with all the elders and distinguished elders, controlled the town.
It should be clarified that the Molengues communities had practically few members and very few means, which could lead to the easy commission of offenses. On the other hand, the Molengue saw reasons for a coexistence of true compenetration. He had very difficult moments during his migratory pilgrimage and had to overcome many obstacles for which he separated from his main groups, Godemu, Ditemu, Mbico; clashes with the Ndowes, Bissio, Fang, etc.
All these situations, which on the other hand contributed to their decline, helped them to be more compact, more supportive. Gentle and harmless by nature, they were victims of the last phase of slavery. As has been said, they lacked violence: that is why they were easily understood (as indeed happened in Equatorial Guinea), among the Ndowe, Fang, and Bissio, despite the fights, so much so that they became intermediaries between some groups and others (Fang- Bissio).
From this context, from the point of view of their numerical inferiority, they were good, understanding and supportive of each other and the offenses and sanctions were few.
When a conflict arose between a man and his wife; between relatives; between neighbors, everyone congregated in ngandje, and the problem was solved.



Two were the offenses of greater caliber and of a certain frequency in the Molengue town.


The numerical inferiority of the women in the Molengue town (more men and fewer women), motivated the frequency of the commission of adultery, despite being very persecuted and, consequently, harshly punished.
The adulterer was smeared with water from the sugar cane, leaving him in the sun.
He could be punished with forced labor, the amputation of a member (ear), even death. The adulterous woman did not have a less harsh time.

The robbery

Theft was another offense of some frequency. Both the forest and the river of the Molengue people were an eternal temptation, as they were depositories of a large part of the community, for the provision of food: meat and fish.
The thief, in addition to assigning him to work for the benefit of the offended party or the community, was forced to make restitution; other times the stolen object or thing was hung around his neck and he was walked in the street or mosengue, to his embarrassment and punishment.
Judged carefully and objectively, we find in the manifestations, both of justice and impositions, that the orientation of the Molengue people was the application of a constant search for social balance and the establishment of understanding in the community. Understanding that assistance and help to the neighbor would entail so that everyone would be supportive, a situation that was very beneficial when special circumstances arose.




According to the investigations carried out with the Molengue people themselves and the assertions of other writers, this people, or the Molengue people who arrived in Equatorial Guinea, was made up of the following groups:

All three groups were completely the same in essence; they differed only slightly in tonality. For this reason, despite belonging to three groups, they met in tribes that were common to all. In this sense, each tribe had an ndachi, a kind of code that identified the members of the same tribe.

They are some tribes like:


Marriage (Dibala)

The ancestral Molengue people understood that for the constitution of a legal family, that is, with domain of the woman and possible children, as well as the goods that the woman could produce, a recognized, legalized, legalized union was necessary and obligatory. guaranteed and accepted by the rules established by the Molengue community: marriage (dibada).
As has been said, for the Molengue, marriage was not in the simple union of man and woman; marriage was the adoption of a state that legalizes the community.
With the marriage, the man was the owner and responsible for the woman taken from another agnatic lineage, because the Molengue marriage was exogenous, that is, he married women who were not from his own family, a concept that was extended in the tribe.
To get to marriage, the Molengue went through the marriage through the following procedures.

Procedures to be carried out

Ordinarily it was the mothers, sisters or aunts or female relatives of the man who carried out the conquest (majengañe) of the woman or young woman sought by her man.
Once certain agreements were made for the possibility of marriage, the relatives of the man would make an official presentation before the family of the bride (jo pegé ya dibala) offering some presents, which almost always consisted of a dicojó gourd, a kind of drink made of the nipa palm tree, and some pieces of metal (mabandja) usually two pieces.
Finally, what was the consummation of marriage (jopendje ya dibala) arrived with the giving of the dowry, which used to consist of: five to ten pieces of mabandja; in pieces of other metallic objects (conga); baskets and some animal requested by the agnatic group. With this last encounter, the woman was given in marriage with an offer of very few paraphernalia, generally food.
As can be seen, the Molengue people practiced endogamous marriage (never exogamous) due to their high sense of family. Investigations carried out in relation to marriage unions, do not find that the Molengue people, throughout their existence, had practiced polyandry, sororal polygyny or adelfogamous polyandry. Because it was a patrilineal society, marriages were uxorilocal, that is, in the residence of the man and the woman, in the case of the man, a situation that increased the degree of stability of their marriages, like all societies. patrilineal des (what changes in matrilineal societies, in which, even living in the man's house, the marriage acquires little consistency).
Due to the small number of women in the previous Molengue town, this one did not practice polygamy, also the very scarce livelihoods were not conducive to them.
But he knew the marriage of widowhood, in which the widow was inherited in the first place by the younger brother of the deceased and, secondly, by the nephew, son of an unmarried sister of the deceased.
As, due to the desire to have children and offspring in an agnatic lineage, daughters were retained and did not marry until they had a son to join the group, it is for this reason that, ordinarily, marriages were made between younger men with older women. age.
Due to the scarce means and difficulty of life and the same scarcity of women, marriages were more solid, more lasting, very undemanding, perhaps because there was nothing demandable. In short, the marriage was solid, lasting and it was difficult for them to divorce. For the same reason, cases of adultery were very rare (hardly punished when they registered it).
Once marriage was constituted by marriage and through uxorilocalism, the family began in its proper sense, that is, the family understood as a group of people who have a common residence, under the same authority and responsibility, generally based in the father, above all, in patrilineal societies, such as the Molengue.


From this context, the Molengue family was made up of the following members:
Man (molomolo=mobali), who together with a woman (mogato), the expected result was the bearing of children (mosengunenen), with which the man became a father (diara), while the woman became a mother (diengo).
He means that the members of the Molengue family were:
• Father (diara) and mother (diengo) who, united by marriage, were the foundation of the family.
• Children: resulting from the marriage union, for the perpetuity of the lineage.
• Brothers (mboñaame)
• Sisters (ngurkiame)





To obtain food, we find that the previous Molengue people used mainly:


The previous Molengue people practiced and dedicated themselves very little to agriculture (mijelo me a mboga), that is, to the food that is planted and cultivated. In fact, he knew and planted only and systematically.

The methods for the preparation went through the phases of choosing the land, the clearing of herbs and shrubs; felling large trees or leaving them unfelled; burning and cleanup; works carried out by the man and his wife until the planting, care and harvest. From there the administration already ran on the part of the woman, while the man dedicated himself to other tasks.
The main food was cassava (matadi) from which he extracted the fermented cassava (ocondo) for the elaboration of micandji, macuru and jewll.
Plantains were rarely planted, therefore also very little used by the Molengue.
He took advantage of the wild chocolate (mibé), whose frequent stew was the modla, soup and wrap (madogo).
The same is the palm kernel or mbila envuento or dyomba.
He used many wild fruits such as the tombo, a kind of wild grape; libuta: like the previous grape but with larger fruits, they take advantage of the pulp of the fruit for iviviki chocolate; They used as peanuts and paste, the grains of a tree near the rivers that they called macoba.
They took advantage of the young leaves of ferns and other shrubs as food; certain roots, cortex and pith, such as the terminal pith (arbitra) of oil palms. As well as a lot of other fruits.


We have talked about mijelo me a pindji, or everything that is taken from the forest or what is planted, from the river he learned the following:

The hunt

To hunt and capture animals (chito), the Molengue people used the following traps (vibase):

The Molengue man was very given to the extraction and consumption of honey, which apart from being eaten as food, was part of the treatment of his pathologies. For his work, the Molengue people used the following tools:

He knew gunpowder, which he used in his jiapi and jare ya pita, which was a kind of self-made shotgun.



In addition to the animals (chito), fish (jedyiaca) and the foods of plant origin already mentioned, they were very useful for the Molengue people:





As in all our peoples in antiquity, the development of life in continuous contact with nature, natural food, the disposition of many innate immunities, the lack of great worries, the absence of vices and false contacts, contributed to good health and the lack of many diseases, with the consequent longevity of the population.



The Molengue people were no exception in this advantage of knowing few diseases, among which we can mention:
• Gonorrhea-syphilis: Pora
• The hernia in bulge: Digindji
• Chancre: Gegaragara
• Elephantiasis: Machinchi
• Variety of abscesses: Jegema, divided into large abscesses (Jecangiie) and small abscesses (Guioro)

Serious situations were caused by:
• Diseases cast by sorcerers: dindjangui
• Those produced by sorcerers: mochimbo



For the cure of diseases, including ailments, the Molengue people had a caste made up of healers (nganga), men dedicated to handling herbs, barks, leaves, roots and other elements with recognized healing capacities. They also used the sap of some plants, honey, ointments, animals to sacrifice or sacrifices.

The healer or nganaga

To carry out the cures, the healers ordinarily used their own dwellings; in case of serious illnesses they moved to the patient's house. Sometimes, the cures were carried out on the banks of the rivers, in certain places in the forest, behind the houses or under some important trees.
The healers (mayemasi) constituted a very important caste in the Molengue people, and their interventions in decision-making were decisive.
The healer was highly respected, if even feared. His great mastery of the supposed secret of the herbs and the elements, made each member of the community want to ingratiate himself with him to deserve his favors and avoid his anger, an advantageous situation that the mayemasi exploited with wisdom, tact and prudence.






The Molengue people, like all the others, knew and sang ordinarily for special reasons that occurred in the community.
The dance (dicocií), the songs and the accompanying sounds, were performed on the occasion of a birth. It was like a manifestation of the joy of the community to be increased with a new member and a kind of welcome to the newborn. It also used to be done at new marriages.
The ngara responded to all kinds of important celebrations. It served the same for deaths, marriages and any manifestation of mood, as well as motombue.
Although without joining in dance or dance, the Molengue, especially the woman, sang on various occasions. That's why she knew songs of joy, of sadness, for work...


Apart from the small children's games, the Molengue people practiced several organized games. Some were nocturnal, like the midjobo and the obong, practiced mixed between men and women, sometimes with elders.
It seems that the most important game, with which they even organized competitions, was the ngota.
This game was played between two sides of the same number of participants. It was a demonstration of marksmanship. A kind of tubercle called a gerende was thrown at high speed to which it was a question of hitting the jongo, which was a sharpened stick as a spear. The side that got the most points for hits won.
Another more common game and for moments of leisure or leisure, was the songue. The game instrument was prepared with large reeds (micoma) and some grains from certain trees. They were relying on calculations to make or suck most of the chips that made up the previous grains. The one who got all of his chips plus part of those corresponding to the adversary won.



The art

For their art, the Molengue people used the wood (mierre) with which they made:
Spoons (toho/sabe), bowls (gancha!gebuaha), which were used to drain the water from plots seized for fishing, or to fish.
• Figurines (guevirra/ibirra)
• Walking sticks (ombenilmimbeni)
• Mortars (boa/iboa) and their respective sticks (modihi/midihi)
With the wood they also built musical instruments, grinding sheets, spatulas and shields. For shields, they also used thick skins from certain animals.
With certain vegetable fibers and bamboo, he wove mats, made baskets to carry and items for fishing and hunting.

The goldsmith

With the mud (djieha) the Molengue molded:
• Pots: Mbea
• Botijos: Butt
• Pipes: Dicula
To decorate the body and other elements in certain ceremonies, he knew the white clay called pembe.
He knew the red color that was used in cures; also the black color that was identified with the sea and the malloe of the spirits.



Like the Fang people, the Molengue obtained the steel for the manufacture of their metallic elements, through the liquefaction of special flakes, using a kind of bellows that he called momba, to increase and enliven the temperature.
During the liquefaction or liquidation period of the flakes, all the men who took part in the operations were obliged not to have sexual relations with any woman, not to eat food cooked in a pot, only roasted or wrapped.
For the animation of the folleros, they sang songs and took over for prudential times. Once the steel ingot was removed, they manufactured items for the entire community, items consisting of:

• Spears: Djiengo
• Axes: Sapaté
• Bracelets: Mieni
• Rings: Mieni iva dibungu




The dress for the elders of the Molengue people, in general, is called mbeñe, made with carved bark of the vegetable called gegingo.
With the young leaves of the ñipa palm tree, they made short dresses for children called delinba, which at the same time served as a bra for women.
• Getaled (singular)
• Italadi (plural)
The ornamentation of the body
To adorn their bodies, the Molengue people mainly used tattoos (ngodu), for purposes of elegance only. The main regions of the body decorated were the shoulders (majaja) and the forearms (mbanbo).



Like other peoples, the Molengue communicated their feelings and thoughts to their peers, through the spoken word, that is, oral expression and language, manifesting itself in:
The sayings
For the Molengue, the proverb was a thought in a message, expressed in a brief and sententious content.
The legend and the tale
In the legend, the Molengue narrated as a story, and sometimes as a story, an event that occurred at an indeterminate time and a certain way of application in his community.



In addition to the day (moese) and the night (guerugu), the Molengue people knew the month (ngonde). He used it, like his long times, the seasons and had three:
• Veran: Mbiche
• Autumn and spring: Dicoca
• Part of spring and winter: Motuba
The time between the appearance of a season and another appearance of the same was, as they say, the year or the longest time of the Molengue, from mbiche to mbiche, it was considered to have elapsed in a year.
The same was the lunar month, and included from a new moon to a new one. He had no name for the week, he did use it practically. But he used a sheet with several holes in which he placed a stick, to determine and specify the set time of the day. In short, time was very relative in the Molengue people.



We have been able to find very few in relation to the beliefs of the Molengue people.
It seems that his permanent contact, knowledge and management of nature and its elements, especially herbs, strengthened him and gave him the means to carry out his life.
For the Molengue the same as the boyel, both the grass and the tree and the liana in its leaves, bark, roots, sap, etc., the same as the animals in their species or groups of mammals, amphibians, reptiles and fish, the remains of natural elements: water, wind, rain, etc., were just like an open book in the realization of his life.
The Molengue people, in their propensity for small, family-only groups, had very few occasions to practice evil and to devote specific attention to evil. The evils commonly known as such were theft and adultery, both commonly committed in the solitude of the woods, consequently difficult to discover, and therefore severely punished.
Both the practice of good (guoñieve) and evil (gobolo) seem to have had no spiritual significance in the Molengue, after he died. However, they paid great attention to death because of its harmful destructive effects; they understood the great importance of death, represented by the dead (spirits), not in the individual unit of the dead person (gyenga) but in the group or community of the dead called (moeri), all of whom will reside in the same place called (gomidimu).
For the rogations to the group of the dead (moeri), the town met in the musengue or patio of the murungue or the oldest person in the group through certain rites led by healers, witches (mayemani), or the supposedly known elders. res of the secrets and powers of the elements of nature. Said rogatory meetings ended in customary meals, offered to the dead in supplication so that they withdraw possible anger for possible offenses that a member of the community, a family or the community (mboa) of this world of the living ( géde).
For the Molengue people, the maximum power or the maximum force to present petitions for the solution of all kinds of needs such as: the lack of procreation of relatives, lack of food production, lack of hunting and fishing, disease des in the community, frequency of misfortunes, etc., was the moeri.




Although, as in all other black Bantu peoples, death did not totally mean the annihilation of the person, despite this being the same position as the Molengue people, they had respect and fear of death. He was obsessively impressed by the destructive effects of death. For him, death was not annihilation, but the total annulment of the living, visible matter of the person, completely incapacitating him to manage among the living matter that constitutes this world of ours. But he recognized more powers and forces in the spirits of the dead that he designated with the name of Moeri, to whom he turned in all needs. It is said that on certain occasions the circumstances surrounding the death forced the entire community to move to another town, leaving the corpse inside what was their home, a common and current practice in the pygmy (boyel) of great affinity with the Molengue.



The Molengue people, great dominators of the symbols of natural elements, were never surprised by the presence of death because they had many signs that announced its proximity, not even the certainty of an imminent evil to come. The main omens of death in the Molengue people were:
• The sudden fall of a tree, in full dry.
• Finding of a dead turtle.
• Finding of a dead iguana and a porcupine, dead by itself.
• The scarcity of game in the community.
• Sudden presentation of conflicts between family neighbors in the community, for no apparent reason.

The Corpse (Yenga)

In normal deaths, once the person expired, the dead person was washed, then wrapped in his schooner for burial (gopumba).
After the burial everyone went to wash in the nearest river. None of those who had taken part in the burial could enter the town or village before washing, especially in any house.


Ceremonies and rites of death: death

After the burial and upon returning from the river, all the beds in the community were lowered and everyone slept on the floor for three days, during which the spirit of the deceased was supposed to wander before meeting the spirit of power ( moeri) that determined destiny, according to their works in this material world.
At the end of the three days of accompanying the deceased, the closest or direct relative of the deceased gave dates for mourning (macute), which, depending on the social status of the deceased, ranged from fifteen to twenty days.
At the end of the time of mourning (macute) came the celebration of the death (godyugola ya gegengo), whose main purpose was to wash away the crying, for this:
On the morning of that day, all the inhabitants of the town, men, women, children and the elderly, went to bathe in the river, in a kind of stripping themselves of the nefarious destructive effects of death that floated among them and filled the town
Once back from the river, everyone met in the community house (ngandja), where the life of the deceased was reviewed; his debts for or against.
They shared his inheritance. If the deceased was a man and had left a widow, this was passed to his younger brother or to his closest nephew, son of an unmarried sister.
With this distribution of the inheritance to their closest relatives and the obligatory feasting, the mourning and the atmosphere of death in the community ended and they returned to the resumption of the previous life.