Mucuis people

Cuis

Cuis / Mucuis / Cwisi

Cuis people are descendants of the first Bantu groups that arrived in Angola. They live in marginal zones around Virei town and work for the Cubal cattle pastoralist. The Cuis usually camp near rock formations. They have lost their original language but they have preserved the rest of their cultural identity and continue to hunt and gather.

 

Population and Ecosystem

There are 600 Mucuis living in the dry river beads and rocks between Virei town and Curoca Oasis. (Angola)

 

Economy and Social Organization

Before the arrival of European settlers, the Cuis practiced seashore-fishing and mollusc gathering. Today they combine hunting gathering activities with goat herding in Virei region.

 

Arts and Architecture

The territory of the Cuis is dry and rocly. Asa semi-nomadic hunter-gatherer people, they harly have craft. Through the excahnge of game meat with the Cubal neighbors, they obtain baskets and other utensils for picking fruits and cooking. They usually hunt with traps and spears that they make themselves. Men carve fine pipes and women make antelope-skin baby carriers and necklaces with which they often decorate their heads as a crown.

Cuis arquitecture is one of the simplest on the African continent. They use large granite rocks as shed and build simple structures with branches in case of strong winds or rain. They are without a doubt, the people of the rocks.

Cuis houses are made up of semi-circular or "lipi"-shaped branch structures, covered with antelope skin or fabric and even imported plastic tarpaulins. The Cuis continue to set up their seasonal camps among large granite rocks.

 

Aesthetics and Belief System

The culture and phisical appearance of the Cuis seem to be reminiscent os a pre-Bantu population. Some Cuis men still wear the traditional loincloth made of rabbit fur or antelope skin and during initiations the Cuis boys cover their sex with a sprig of acacia leaves.

Culturally, they have been strongly influenced by the Cubal neighbors and today they speak a Cubal dialect. The last speakers of the Cuis language died in the 1960s. The Cuis believe in mountain spirits, who protect them and suply them with food and water.

During rites of passage, Cuis boys and girls cover their sex with bush leaves and wear special crest-shaped hairstyles thatb tehy will only abandon when they get married. The leaves of sex covers symbolize the original forest where they come from.

 

Challenges

Water is, without a doubt, the big problem form the Cuis community, but not the pnly one. The cultural assimilation by the dominant Cubal and the destruction of their camping and worship places (large granite rocks) by mining companies augur a black future for the Cuis.

 

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