Kwasio people

Bissio / Bujeba / Kwasio

Bissio / Bujeba / Kwasio

The Bissio, Bujeba or Kwasio people are an African ethnic group, members of the Bantu group, who are indigenous to Equatorial Guinea. Their indigenous language is Bujeba. Today Bujebas inhabit Northern and Southern Bata, and South of Rio Benito. The ethnic group has decreased in number, as most have assimilated into the Fang ethnic group due to their strong influence in recent decades.

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.

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

IMPORTANT NOTE: Original information is in Castilian Spanish language.
We have translate this information through GOOGLE TRANSLATOR so, this information could have some grammar and semantic mistakes.

Access to original document / Castilian Spanish



Some scholars on the subject have dealt with the Bissio people, as part of the Ndowe people, but this seems to be due to simple appreciations caused by the eternal closeness of the two peoples, in addition to other factors of a historical and geographical nature.
Other peoples that have been in the same situation in relation to the Ndowe people are the Basec people and the Balengue people, who are not really Ndowes.
We had occasions to learn "live" the clarification of this situation, after the presentation of complaints and claims as independent ethnic groups by the Balengue people, a complaint that was accepted and recognized by the Ndowe group.
The Bissio were called Mabea by the Ndowes; Mecur for the Fang; later, the colonialist will call him Bujeba.
The Bissio were established with the Bacota and the Maca in the area of Cameroon between Yaunde, Ebolowa and Lolo, as members of the same trunk.
The brutality of the Fang in their advance through East Africa separated the Bacota and Maca from the Mabea and the rest of their brothers; the Bissio, who when separated were called Mecur by the Fang, a term that meant "those who left". The Mabea separated after the Ngumbo due to new pressure from the other Fang group of Ewondo, coming from the Sangha. Thus, some Bissio branches established themselves in the coastal areas of Kribi, Victoria and Campo River, in Cameroon. It also seems that the Bissio are related to the Basec in Cameroon and to the Bacuba and íicoye of the Congo.
It also seems that the Bissio who settled in Equatorial Guinea penetrated through the Campo River, the Mombe River and the Wolo River (Mbini, 19th century).
Investigations carried out in relation to the Ndowe versions, and confirmed with the Bissio themselves, place the arrival of the Bissio on the coast after the arrival of the Ndowe, with whom, due to settlement, they fought several times.
In their attempt to enter the interior of Equatorial Guinea, the Bissio found themselves with the Fang outposts and placed between the Ndowe and the Fang, double pressure, this forced the Bissio to unite with the Ndowe to make a common front with the Fang.
This situation of eternal harassment that the Bissio people have suffered has intervened in their structure, diminishing their habitat, establishing them near the coast and almost always in symbiosis with the Ndowe and the Fang, and with the latter they have always had matrimonial relations.

Kwasio people

EL POBLADO -CUAT- Settlements

As has been demonstrated, the Bissio, Mabea, Mecur, or Bujeba of Equatorial Guinea, due to the double pressure they received from the Fang and the Ndowe, positioned themselves along the coast with a slight incursion into the interior.
Thus, regardless of the sea, the Bissio people, for the settlement or location of their towns sought:
• The possibility of a manageable forest to make their food farms; with the ability to extend the few modalities for their traps, fruit trees and construction materials.
• He was interested in the presence of water to meet his vital needs and for freshwater fishing.

Housing -ndoo-

Like the majority of Bantué towns, the Bissio house was small and rectangular in shape; of two waters, devoid of any compartment.
The construction material consisted of columns, trusses, straps, for the general framework; nipas, for the roof; bamboo, tree bark and/or leaves, for the walls.
Ordinarily, the house was family, where most of the services were carried out and received, with the drying room over the fire being the most important element of the house.
In the absence of compartments, the arrangement of the beds indicated the division and use of the house.
Although the house was unique, the Bissio built some attachments attached to the main house, intended for the conservation of different belongings, such as firewood, old junk and other odds and ends.



Although established in the same location, the Bissio people had very few assets capable of being considered common, if we except, for example:

Kwasio people


It seems that the Bissio were originally called Mabea; for having been great hunters of elephants, and dedicating themselves to the sale of tusks or Bissio -ssi - (ssio = tusks). This identification with the tusks of elephants led them to be called Bissio, the name by which they are currently known.



As we have affirmed on previous occasions, especially in relation to the Fang, nddowe and Bubi ethnocultural groups, the Bissio ethnocultural group knew, accepted and respected to a good degree the consanguineous relations that come from the matrimonial union of a man and a woman, which gave as a result the child. It means that the Bissio people also complied with the obligations and rights arising from the consanguineous relations constituting the family. So that, for this people, all the people included in a consanguineous affinity of any degree, were related to each other.
Kinship, then, constituted a guide for many of the social relations, in which the Bissio was involved in the course of his life.



Among the considerations of the Bantu peoples, in particular, and of almost all primitive African cultures, in general, the tribe was constituted by the groups of people who attributed a common family origin, regardless of another more immediate consanguineous relationship. .
The Bissio people, then, submitted to all family obligations that established kinship around the tribe as a family. He wants to point out that all the people of the same tribe were, among themselves, relatives in the consideration of the Bissio.
The main ancestral tribes of the Bissio people were:

The taboo, or the fundamental prohibition of the family relationship, inviolable in the Bissio people, was cohabitation -man and woman from the same tribe-; that is, they could not have sexual relations, under pain of -nsama nvure-, committing a basket that was considered a desecration, with the typification of sin -nsiem-, of pernicious and harmful tangible effects on themselves or on the group agnatic These effects could only be neutralized through special celebrations.



The true Bissio family began with marriage legally recognized by the custom of the ethnic group.
As a consequence of the existing friendship between the parents: the father of the man, previous analysis, knowledge and the appreciations obtained from a friendly family, appeared asking for a wife for his son. Many times, without referring to a specific young woman in the family. The son whose marriage was intended could not refuse the woman chosen to be his wife. The choice of a woman from a certain family could be established in a pregnancy, in case a girl is born, and the marriage takes place.
The means used to reach the marriage in the Bissio people were:

In all cases, once the claims were presented, the classic marriage petition, with certain rigorous offers, the marriage was arranged with the fixing of the dates. After a solemn act, they proceeded to the foundation of the dótales bifuba-para cunde or dowry, consisting of certain recognized metallic objects, wooden utensils, animals.
Thus received the anti-infernal goods or those from the agnatic lineage of the male (dowry), the family of the woman of the Bissio people, offered the paternal goods, ordinarily consisting of food and domestic animals. Great celebrations preceded the formal delivery of the woman, until leaving her in accompaniment at the residence of the newlyweds.
The end of the reception of the dowry by the Bissio people was related to the fact that with it the woman's family could replace her with the marriage of another woman, and the new woman was in charge of offering children to increase the family group, In addition to offering other services.
The Bissio people practiced endogamous marriage, that is, they married women from other agnatic lineages. He also practiced polygamy, not wanting to affirm with it that there were no monogamous or single people.
He also knew and practiced widowhood marriage, that is, he married the widow or woman (wife) of a deceased relative and did not practice the levirate at any time in his existence.
He harshly persecuted and punished adultery, even going so far as to amputate some members of the adulteress.
And really, the Bissio gave a lot of importance and consideration to his wife, so he knew very little about divorce.
No one, finally, can prove that the ancestral Bissio practiced polyandry, as well as sororal polygyrgy, or adelphogamous polyandry.
In short, once the acts of marriage were finished with the delivery of the woman and established in the residence of her current husband as a member of the group, already with the marriage, the family began.



Like all cultures, the Bissio people understood that every man is the potential founder of a lineage, marriage being the fundamental element for this foundation.
For this reason (we have also seen it in other ethnocultural groups) marriage was not considered a union destined to satisfy mere sexual appetites. For them, as for the others, the fundamental purpose of marriage was the foundation of a lineage, a descent through the children born and considered as recognized legitimate offspring of both spouses. As can be seen, marriage was the foundation of the Bissio family, which was based on descent and was built by:

Born within the legitimate union of a man and a woman.
It is convenient to clarify the term born or had "within a marriage": here we refer to the "social" child, as opposed to the "physiological" child. The child may be the father's or the genitor's, understanding the father as the legitimate social father, by virtue of the right acquired by law granted by means recognized by the community, in our case, the dowry. And, genitor refers to the physiological or natural father of the child obtained by sexual relations with a woman married to another man or to no one. On a child in these conditions, a physiological or natural paternity is obtained, without legal or social rights over the son or daughter.

The Bissio family was of patrilineal family direction, that is, the family followed the direction of the father, therefore, both the son and the daughter were from the father's tribe.

All other family members who did not belong to this scale were considered relatives, some with a certain degree of blood proximity between them.




Within their social and family structure, the Bissio people knew and accepted the sense of authority.
The basis and foundation of authority in the Bissio people was age, so there was no other process to achieve or designate authority or -ntumba cuart-.
As we have said, the oldest member of a community or family group ineffably constituted authority. However, it was necessary for the eldest, head of the family, to be understanding, altruistic, kind, fair, patient, intelligent, to participate as the first with his contribution in all collective, private or individual acts that arose within the family community of his ward. By practicing these virtues, his authority was more accepted and respected.
With the authority of the oldest, other members of the community, although younger, participated in the control of the town, as long as they distinguished themselves by their obedience and respect for elders and elders, assistance to others and assiduous participation. on the general needs of the community.
Others were distinguished for excelling in some specific activity, such as fishing, hunting, wrestling, dancing, art,...
Although the head of the family was assisted by other elders, on occasions, when he failed, the direction of the community could fall to another, of recognized responsibility, rectitude, kindness, etc., even if he was younger.



For the administration of justice, the Bissio people had a house of the word or mpa.
The mpa was the center to elucidate all the conflicts and problems that arose, affecting the entire community, a family, or two or more neighbors; the programming of common acts, etc. In other words, in the mpa everything that arose was dealt with, arranged, programmed and resolved, through the head of the family, and the ability to impose sanctions was reserved for him, together with the other elders.
It should be clarified that the authority in the Bissio people was local, that is, each family community had its elder who was constituted as head or boss, although each family reserved its authority in its bosom, ordinarily, the father.



The sanctions in the town and Bissio justice were related to the seriousness of the matter or the offense. Thus, the sanctions consisted of giving food products for their use; domesticated or hunted animals; some forced labor that benefited the community or the offended party.
In the offenses of public repercussion the offender, ordinarily, was forced to offer a large amount of food that everyone shared together in mpa. Food that served for reconciliation between the litigants, or between the offender and the population. In addition, this type of sanction came to instill precautions and calls for attention, in relation to the commission of the same type of offense or another of the same degree of seriousness and offense.
The greatest sanction fell, above all, in the case of adultery, in which some member, hand or ear of the adulteress was amputated, and sometimes, she was tied to the tree of stinging ants.
In any case, the most frequent sanction was that of offering food to the community, due to its reconciliatory nature and union of all family members.
This humanitarian tendency and its search for solidarity and understanding among all, contributed so that justice and the sanctions imposed were widely accepted and respected by the ancestral Bissio.



We have found that the Bissio people used light agriculture to obtain food, as well as poor hunting and a little more fishing.


In their restrained practice of agriculture, the men were in charge of clearing the undergrowth and felling larger trees. Once the fallen weeds were dry, they were burned and cleaned. From this moment on, the rest of the work: planting, caring, even harvesting, was carried out by the women, time that the men used in other tasks, such as hunting, building houses, etc.
It seems that in their agriculture, the Bissio only knew cassava or ngnan and malanga or Macab, bank yam -bingung nancuac-, and yellow yam -mpang-. The modalities for the consumption of cassava or -nguande-, were:

Another modality was to cook the decomposed fermented cassava, without crushing or grinding: it was the -musugla-.
The same modality of fermented and decomposed cassava was smoked in the drying room, and had the advantage of being preserved for a long time without spoiling.
Another product planted by the Bissio was malanga or Macab.
The Bissio people prepared taro puree soup, a dish they called: Macab mendyana. He boiled and roasted the malanga too.



Hunting -suambo-

It is not known that the Bissio people cheated to hunt -nguambo-. He is only known to use the spear or mban- with which he hunted the rat or cuu; the porcupine or ngumbó, the antelope or kima.



From some vegetable fibers and the shavings resulting from the outer shell of the coconut, the Bissio made their fishing gear, consisting of nets or -biluba- and watchtowers or -nvila-
He practiced marine fishing more than the Fang people and much less than the Ndowe. Much less in agriculture than the Fang and equal to or less than the Ndowe.
The Bissio woman, as she fishes, divides some portions of streams by means of dams, and by draining the contained water to the bottom -lecho- she catches the fish that are found in the dammed waters. It used to be a bountiful catch. It was luec.
A very important food for the Bissio people was wild chocolate (nduaj), obtained by harvesting or by detaching the fruits of the producing tree.
With chocolate (nduaj), the Bissio prepared most of what for him was his broth, accompanied by both fish and meat and various leaves; both in leaf wraps and in soups.
He knew the pumpkin (nguan) that he cooked in soup or in a wrap; likewise the pande, a kind of grains extracted from very hard fruits that he also used for sauces.
As can be seen, the ancestral Bissio had much less food than all the other ethnocultural groups in Equatorial Guinea, since they were not particularly distinguished by their relationship with either the forest or the water. He was saved thanks to his strategic situation between the Ndowes and the Fang, from whom he received eternal support. Above all, from the Fang, for which, upon meeting, he soon established relations to marry his women.




Like most of the black-African peoples of antiquity, the Bissio people can boast of having been one of those who knew few diseases. His way of life (he was never dedicated to forced and constant labor) greatly favored his health, especially if one takes into account the absence of all vices and all excess over time. The Bissio people, then, knew few ailments that could be classified as bed-ridden illnesses; among these, we can cite:

Elements for healing

In these diseases and their ailments, as well as for difficult deliveries, the Bissio used, as remedies for healing, leaves, barks, roots, stems, sap, fruits of herbs and trees in which he had identified qualities or virtues. healing. The blood of many domestic animals was necessary for certain cures; especially when it came to diseases released (bivtima) or poisoning (ndi nfú). Another element used in Bissio medicine was water, both cold and hot, from the river or the sea, and in a special way and for certain diseases, water pooled in the hollow of a trunk or tree branch (mechebo me sim). On occasion he offered sacrifices in request of healing. The places to carry out the cures were the houses of the sick or of the healers, the banks of the rivers, the sea, certain places in the forest and under some trees.



The healer was highly respected in Bissio society; Although he was not far from being considered a witch or sorcerer, the truth is that healing was an art that exploded and many times the healer was neither a witch nor a sorcerer, especially when his father had been a healer and he was one by inheritance.




The Bissio people, like all peoples, used the word as a means for the representation and interpretation of human thought and feeling. Also for the depth and manifestation of his thought, for the philosophy of social morality and, sometimes, to facilitate the presentation, understanding and orientation of thought to a proposed end. The Bissio people used:

The Bissio story used people, personified animals and elements, and all the protagonists could manage in this world of the living and in that of the dead and, ordinarily, contained a moral or message.



The dance, in the Bissio people, constituted a kind of expression and manifestation of moods, mainly joy.
The main ancestral dances of the Bissio people were:

Nzanga was the popular dance of Bissio, practiced by women, forming a row, dressed in shavings extracted from coconut and palm leaves, and whose main instruments were: a high drum and a low one, called: an nduambo , several manduambo. The show could be done at night or during the day. With the zanga, the main celebrations were held, such as marriages (casa¬mientos), births, end of deaths...

Namalingui. It was a dance based on characterization, wrapping the dancer or dancers with leaves and wheels, as the current "mamarrachos" accompanied by the community, dancing and singing, walked the street.



In addition to serving as an accompaniment to the dances, the Bissio people sang before certain events, such as births, marriages, hunting or fishing for an important animal, salutation of some notable person. For this reason, the song had various meanings or messages, depending on the reason and the circumstance.



The most important games of the Bissio people were:

Massiong: It was an organized, serious game, with the capacity to organize serious competitions. It was wrestling between men or women, subject to rules and defeated postures. There were two sides, that at the end of the contest, the side that achieved the greatest number of positions or falls defeated was victorious.

Namuimui: There were also two sides, each one of which took one of its components to the center of the arena or the place where it was played. A third, a kind of referee, requested in record time and directed by him, the timely citation of five names of, for example, animals, pointing to each participant in a beat of two or three seconds intervals. The winner was the one who matched all five of his names without making a mistake, stopping, hesitating or shutting up in the prescribed time. He played other children's games, such as hide-and-seek, aiming, etc.

Kwasio people


Little can be said about Bissio art. It is only known that he worked in wickerwork, vegetables, weaving small baskets (fuimbi-mifuim), calling singo to mortars, accompanied by the nfuma, (stick to crush). He made cayucos with little skill and infrequently.
With clay he modeled pipes (mbi ndale), pots (mambe); statuettes (binvila).
We ignore the intervention of metals in his art and life.



The Bissio people cannot be an exception in relation to the making of their dresses. Well, like all the other peoples, they carved the bark and fibers of special trees to make their dresses. The tender leaves of certain vegetables, such as oil palms and ñipa, were used to make their dresses, especially for ornamentation.
These tender leaves, woven with some mastery, were used to decorate the puerperal woman and the child. To treat the leaves, he used a red ointment, extracted from the pressure of a stick carved in a round shape on a flat surface of the red stick, impregnated with water, and with sand spread over the same surface. This pressure resulted in a paste in the form of red liquid, which was an ointment that dispelled odors and prevented infections.


The week, which they call "son"; It must not have been a unit of time for the ancestral Bissio, because it seems that, for them, it is a barbarism imported from English: sunday.
The space of time understood from the appearance of one moon to another, constituted the month Bissio (ngiiendo)
The year was also made up of the space of time that mediated between the seasons of the year, of which they knew two, mainly, the dry and the rainy; so that if an event took place in this one, dry, the arrival in the next one constituted the nvo (año Bissio).
The unit for counting duration was the nvul, or night: me vul me lal, or three nights.




Despite how difficult it is to collect coherent data on the manifestations of the life of the ancestral Bissio, due to not having organized it properly, seriously and independently, we have found that, like the black-Bantú people, in general, the death did not imply the annihilation or total termination of the person.
For the Bissio people, when the person died, the living matter that was the body and that could be seen, touched and communicated with everything material, the other invisible part or the spirit, called lina, remained floating. This lina would live forever and his condition of "life", good or bad, would depend on his acts, good or bad, in his relations with others in this life or chegh bopiara; so that, if he did well, he was going to live in another world -dyenom-, together with the others lina en (dyenom) he could reincarnate and be born again as a person, in his own family or in a different close family. In case of having done wrong, the Bissio believed that the spirit was lost in space.



Ordinarily, the Bissio people, despite being of simple organization, did not recognize the fact of merely natural death, just as they thought that very few diseases also came in this way. Illness, and therefore death, were caused by sorcerers -bosimbi-: sorcerers, healers or some evil spirit, "alive" or deceased.
The Bissio admitted illnesses given by throwing -vuimo-; and placed as a trap in the place of frequent and safe passage of the ill-willed, as well as poisoning -ñed ndi nfú-.
A contagious disease in the community presaged the presence of an evil -sin (nsiem - tnisier)- committed; profanation of the family taboo or of the community in general, such as killing the chameleon, the general totem of the Bissio people.



For the ancestral Bissio people, the proximity of death was heralded by certain circumstances, such as:
• The sudden appearance and disappearance of the snake called cobra -mbursim-.
• The chance encounter with an iguana or ncao, especially if it is dead.
• A sudden rain at the start of a trip.
• The appearance of a reptile, of subterranean life, of scarce presence, called -siambo-.
• The accumulation of dirt from the recent opening of a rat burrow.
• Frequencies of certain rare and unpleasant situations in the community, such as fires, animals destroying their few plantations, etc.
When the Bissio encountered any of these circumstances and signs, he considered the proximity of certain death in the family community.

Agony -siangla-
The Bissio people were very concerned about the dying state of any component of the community, even with children.
Declared the state of agony or seriousness in the patient, the community almost refrained from leaving the town. When it came to an elderly person, man or woman, he was required to bless his family, especially his children, nephews and grandchildren, if he had any. From this moment on, he could no longer remain alone in the room of his prostration.
Once the person had expired, death -sila nyo- became:
• Corpses or Nvombo
• Burial or Madilla
• Grave or Siong



From the moment the person expired, he deserved all the attention of the family community, and he could not remain alone in the room at his site.
Finally, after expiration, the corpse was removed from the bed where it had suffered the disease, and was deposited on the floor, in the center of the kitchen, on leaves of different vegetables. Then it was washed with hot water, wrapped in the bark of certain trees or large leaves and tied with vines or with some vegetable fibers. It was loaded and transported by the men or women prepared for the burial. The burial was made, generally, behind the house of the deceased.
Meanwhile, the heads of the widows were peeled, and they themselves, separated and huddled in a corner of the mortuary house, were punished (mpfuo).
In the community house (mpá), the men, gathered together, planned and fixed dates for the cul or the final funeral ceremony.
Since the day of the burial, the house where the corpse had remained was inhabited by several relatives during the week; It could not be abandoned, because it was assumed that the presence of the spirit of the deceased was near (nffé).
The rites of the day of the final ceremony (cul) consisted of:
• Remove the widow or widows from the ground (voulfuo si).
• Purification of widows by bathing in the river.
• Their incorporation into everyday life.
• Accompaniment with songs, dances and feasts.

Which ended with the distribution of the inheritance. The widow married or passed on to a brother or a direct and close relative of the deceased.
With this, he dissipated the atmosphere of mourning and death, and the community returned to its normal daily life and management.





Like all peoples in general, and like the Bantu in particular, the Bissio people had an idea of the meaning of property, the need for it, and the defense of property.
He gave great importance to the provision of many elements or human resources, because the importance of the possession of many human elements transcended and had great differentiating effects in Bissio thanatological acts. That is to say, the celebration of the funeral acts of an ordinary person was not the same as those of a person who in life had distinguished himself by his material and human elements.
For this, from the same or a few days after birth, ordinarily, the Bissio, through good, specialized elders, celebrated in private and accompanied by the parents of the newborn, the act of predisposition of the child to good, to abundance and virtue, entrusting the miffe, or group of all the lina or spirits of the deceased established in the djenom, once the cheng boppiara or this world of the living has been abandoned.
The act for the predisposition of the person for good, abundance, defense against all evil and witchcraft, as well as the virtue for the good of his community, was called nkumbo. And, when it came to their preparation for evil, bewitchment for the extension of witchcraft through guimbo, an act carried out by a bad person, witch or sorcerer in a remote place in the house but always hidden and in solitude. , was called le-guimbo.
Faced with adverse needs and circumstances, the Bissio people recognized the existence of a hidden force, forbidden to their meager intelligence, but sufficient to try to address that indefinite and indefinable force, which caused or gave rise to birth and growth. of living beings, as well as death. And because of the importance that the Bissio recognized in the person, he did not admit his annihilation by death. That is why he distinguished in the person an immortal part that he called nifa or spirit while he lived, calling the spirit of the deceased miffe, whose whole is the miffe. The "afterlife" of the residence of all the spirits of the dead or miffe, they called it djenom.



In this context, the Bissio established and recognized a certain relationship of proximity between the miffe or spirits of the deceased with the unidentifiable force, and addressed that indescribable force, that power, through what he called melande, made up of skulls. of the people he called Cheng boppiara distinguished themselves by their kindness, rectitude, justice and altruism.
It means that the Bissio people recognized more powers and more possibilities to the miffe, with the ability to help those who still lived in this life or Cheng boppiara.
To address the great power of the Bissio trust, he organized meetings for prayers for collective or particular causes, of the individual situation and of a family. These prayers were made by the nvnlu melande, a practical old man and caretaker of the melande, and they made offerings consisting, ordinarily, of domestic animals. This is why the Bissio had a vocation for the practice of good, due to its tendency to be the depositary and remedy of good for the community, as well as participating in the eternal life of good in the djenom with the capacity for a possible reincarnation as a person in the within one's own family, if possible in the same or a nearby one. That is why the Bissio imposed the name of the recently deceased relative to the first child who was born in the family immediately. In case he did wrong while he was alive, his miffe was lost in space.
The ancestral Bissio people, like the others, did not know the God of heaven, so they did not practice good to deserve heaven, nor did they avoid evil for fear of hell. Their good and evil of the future was practiced in the neighbor, with the hope of meeting the ancestors, who could refuse them entry into dyenomi, and acceptance and entry into dyenom, generally gave eternal life in good and bad. possibility of reincarnation that, for the Bissio, was the greatest good of his aspiration in this life or cheg bopiara.