Africa Guide

Fang People


The Fang are especially known for their guardian figures which they attached to wooden boxes containing bones of the ancestors. The bones, by tradition, are said to contain the power of the dead person, in fact, the same amount of power that the person had while still alive.

The Fang mainly inhabit the hot, humid, equatorial rain forests of Gabon, making up 80% of the Gabonese population. They are of medium height and have a relatively powerful build and pride themselves greatly on their physical beauty.

The Fang are reported to have moved from the northeast centuries ago and settled in the region to farm. Because they are a warrior like people they quickly conquered the native inhabitants. Many ethnic groups still fear the Fang because of their powerful aggressive tendencies. The Fang are also known for their older practice of cannibalism, which they practiced unashamedly during the 17th centuries and earlier. Using slash and burn techniques the Fang still farm as their chief occupation, though, during the early years of European settlement many resorted to elephant hunting to provide ivory for the traders.

Leadership in Fang villages is inherited and the leader is usually supposed to be descended from the family who started the village. The leader also serves as the spiritual leader, able to communicate with the ancestors of the village. He does this by the wearing of masks, which are also an important feature of Fang artwork.  

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