WAYWARD SERVANTS by Colin M. Turnbull


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This is not a Sands of Kalahari with its poetic, emotional, dramatic rendition of undersized man surviving against encroaching civilization. It is the report of a highly trained anthropologist who has transcended the boundaries of his profession's specialized pattern to produce his report on pygmies of Africa. These people have all the charm of the miniature (they're about four feet high) and they are stateless. It's not the tortured statelessness of the European refugee who wants a place with civilized, naturalized mankind. These are forest nomads who identify with their jungle and use their village neighbors, when they call, in what can be considered an ultra-sophisticated sense--they use the village while outwardly conforming to the village tribal labors. With admirable scientific restraint, Mr. Turnbull presents his record of the time he spent with pygmies (He's also done The Forest People-1961, etc.). If high comedy and touching nobility emerge, it is not as a matter of author-overstress, but a serious attempt to find the strength in a most disorganized, anarchic society--no chief, no court, no outstanding fetish. Their life in the forest goes forward on a wave of nosy-parkering; everyone minds everyone else's business. It's all very scientific in laymen's language--individual, family and societal pygmy is observed. There's not much around on pygmies from such an assured source.

Pub Date: Sept. 7th, 1965
Publisher: Doubleday