a) In the Mbuti Pygmy world, the molimo is both a ritual and a musical instrument. The molimo is performed when there has been a catastrophe, sickness, death, or crisis within the Pygmy community. As a practice, the Mbutis revere the forest that nourishes and protects them; thus, when trouble occurs, the "sleeping" forest has to be awakened to its duty of caring for the people. The molimo trumpets are played for this purpose and must be "given food to eat, water to drink, and fire to keep it warm." As a rule, no woman can participate in the molimo ceremony, so the ritual is strictly a male affair.
An elima is a celebration that occurs when a Mbuti girl reaches puberty. The ceremony involves the girl living with her friends in a special hut for a month. As a newly menstruating female, the Mbuti girl is viewed as a danger, for "blood of any kind is a terrible and powerful thing, associated with injury and sickness and death." Thus, the girl is sequestered in the elima hut until she can be betrothed or married off to an eligible bachelor; a husband will remove from her the taint of "danger."
Similar to the elima, an nkumbi is an initiation rite for boys. During nkumbi, young boys are circumcised and made to endure mental and physical tortures in order to be accepted into the world of Mbuti masculinity. To earn the status that adult men have, the boys must suffer regular whippings and prove themselves as valiant hunters.
These three rituals teach us that the Pygmy people value the role of the forest in nourishing, teaching, and protecting them. Additionally, all three rituals demonstrate an inherent Pygmy reverence for masculine energy. The molimo trumpets themselves are phallic symbols representing masculine sexual potency and social responsibility. The nkumbi toughens up the boys so that they can become men who will hunt and provide for their families. The boys prove themselves so that they will also be worthy of a girl who has experienced the elima.
b) In the book, the villagers refer to the Mbuti forest people as "animals who didn't know how to behave." They also refer to the Pygmies as "forest savages who had no culture of their own." Similarly, the Pygmies refer to the villagers as "animal-humans who live in permanent villages out in the open, away from the shelter and affection of the trees."
So, you can see that the application of such derogatory language demonstrates the dangers of ethnocentrism. As a practice, ethnocentrism leads us to make false or wrong assumptions about others, and this often results in cultural misunderstandings. Social harmony is adversely threatened as a result.