Tua people

Tua

Tua / Mutua / Twa / Batwa / Batua

Tua people are an ancient tribe, a physical and cultural mixture between a pre-Bantu group (probably San) with Bantu peoples, arrived at the Cunene River (Angola) region around the 18th Century. The physical features of many Tua remind that of the San, despite their wears are similar to that of the Himba, the dominant tribe in the area who consider them an inferior ethnic group, because they do not possess cattle. They speak a Herero dialect -like the Himbaand the Hakaona- and their economy is based on hunting and gathering. Some men are great blacksmiths, making arrowheads, hoes and bracelets for neighboring tribes.

 

Population and Ecosystem

There are 1.500 Mutua living in the dry river beads and forests around Oncocua town. (Angola)

 

Economy ans Social Organization

The Tua are hunters, gatherers and blacksmiths. They are organised in small communities composed of around 20-30 members led by elderly men and women.

 

Arts and Architecture

The Tua make dolls out of wood and vegetable ropes, decorating them with pieces of imported clothes, seeds, and glass beads exchanged for wild honey and game meat. These dolls are for the use and enjoyment of Tua girls, but they are also exchanged for food or imported clothes with other ethnic groups.

Tua dolls are made of wood and decorated with leather dreadlocks and breads. Non initiate Tua girls wear wicker anklets.

Some Tua men keep practising blacksmithing, learned centuries ago with the arrival of Bantu groups with this technology. Blacksmiths make bracelets, amulets, spearheads, knives, and farming tools that are purchased by neighboring Hakaona, Dimba, or Himba. As a semi- nomadic society, the Tua make simple hemispherical huts with branches covered in mud. During the dry season, it is common for Tua families to sleep in the open.

 

Aesthetics and Belief System

Tua women have given up their traditional hunting-gathering clothing based on small rabbit and antelope skin skirts and simple necklaces and bracelets made of dry seeds and animal bones, to imitate the dress of Himba women.

Men and children continue to dress and decorate ¡n the original ways though Western clothing is slowly penetrating ¡n the communities living near Oncocua. Tua are animists and believe in the spirits of nature. For them, trees, rocks and rivers have a soul and can determine good gathering and hunting parties.

 

Challenges

Tua people are a minority in their ancestral lands. For a couple of centuries, the Tua have begun a process of assimilation into the dominant culture of the Himba. Today, the young Tua are barely distinguishable from their neighboring Himba. Along with the loss of cultural identity, the Tua face stable settlement attempts by the government of Angola. The last radical processes of change often bring problems for these communities: from uprooting, abuse by neighboring tribes, to the dangerous entry of alcohol into these communities. It is necessary to look for formulas that allow Tua people to preserve their culture and, at the same time, improve their quality of life with better access to western health and drinking water.

 

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