Association With European Colonists
With the slave trade of the 18th century came migrations of tribes in the area, with resultant pressures on the Aka. In addition, at the end of the 19th century the Aka were the major elephant hunters that provided ivory for the ivory trade. This trade used the tribes with whom the Aka were affiliated as middlemen. From 1910 to 1940, rubber production was desired by colonialists, and forced labor of the tribesmen with whom the Aka were associated increased the demand for bushmeat, and some villagers escaped into the forest, where they put added demands on the Aka. The Aka were never involved in the forced labor schemes directly, but the increased demands for meat and skins encouraged the more efficient method of net hunting instead of spear hunting. This shift in hunting technique changed the social structure of the Aka.
In the 1930s the French encouraged the Aka to move into roadside villages, but like the Efé of the Ituri forest, most Aka disappeared into the forest and few joined the villages (except in a few villages in Congo-Brazza).
Today, the world economic structure encourages Aka participation in coffee plantations (of the Ngandu and other neighboring farmers) during the dry season, which is also the hunting season. This has changed their societal structure even further. Employment with the ivory and lumber trade bring in far more money than their traditional lifestyle, further putting pressure on their culture.
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