Baggara - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Marriages are traditionally endogamous and are frequently polygynous. Bride-wealth, in cattle and other goods, is provided by the prospective husband, with help from his near relatives. Part of the bride-wealth is used to buy household furnishings; some of it may also be used to buy food for the marriage celebration, which takes place in the bride's camp. After the marriage, the new couple lives near the bride's mother's house, just outside the camp circle, for about ten days. Then the new couple moves ceremoniously a residence the husband has chosen, an occasion that involves another feast, this one provided by the husband's family. In polygynous marriages, each wife owns her own house, which she operates independently. Co-wives may share meals, but not any differently than they might with other women in the camp. A divorced woman is looked after by her brother, unless she has a son older than about age 14 who can do so. Domestic Unit. The primary domestic unit is a woman and her young children, with a male protector. A man may be the protector of more than one household, either through polygynous marriages or through assigned responsibility for a divorced or widowed woman or for the wife of an absent husband (usually his brother). Residence may change several times over the course of a person's life, with movement from camp to camp or from camp to town. Residence changes may be related to a person's marriage status; a woman's pregnancy; a change in emphasis of a man's economic mode (pastoral, agricultural, or wage labor); or the location of a woman's male protector.

Inheritance. Inheritance is patrilineal. Women inherit household goods and perhaps some small stock from their mothers. They may also inherit cattle, although their brothers usually retain control over such animals, so that they can be used to maintain the women should they be divorced or widowed.

Socialization. Mothers are the primary caretakers of young children. Fathers also show a great deal of attention to their infants and young children. Siblings often help with child care. Any adult may discipline a child or provide care, particularly when a child's mother has gone out of the camp. More and more Baggara children—particularly boys—are now attending at least some years of school; however, the eldest son may remain at home so that he can be well trained in animal husbandry. Boys may attend school through the secondary level, whereas girls rarely pass beyond six years of schooling. A small number of boys may gain some sort of postsecondary training.

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