Punu people

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For the Punu or Bunu people of China, see Yao people.

The Punu, or Bapunu (Bapounou), are a Bantu group of Central Africa and one of the four major peoples of Gabon, inhabiting interior mountain and grassland areas in the southwest of the country, around the upper N'Gounié and Nyanga Rivers. Bapunu also live in the Divenie, Kibangou, and Mossendjo districts of the Republic of the Congo. They are linguistically related to the Eshira.

Punu traditions record a migration from the south sometime before the 19th century, as a result of wars somewhere between the Congo and Niari River. In the 19th century they gathered rubber, and participated in the slave trade, sending both their own and acquisitions from further inland to Loango and Fernan Vaz. In the present day, the Punu are noted for their cloth made of palm fiber, and for iron weaponry.

The Punu were once called Bayaka by others, but they themselves consider this a pejorative.


  • David E. Gardinier, Historical Dictionary of Gabon, 2nd ed. (The Scarecrow Press, 1994) p. 59

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