Ewe and Fon - Kinship



Kin Groups and Descent. Descent is primarily patrilineal, although among Ewe groups there are sometimes elements of double descent or of influence from Akan matriliny, such as rights of mother's brother in sister's children (including rights to pawn them). Fon have exogamous patrisibs composed of lineages, but in the Kingdom of Dahomey the royal sib had exceptional rules. Princesses married commoners and their children belonged to the royal sib, as did the offspring of royal princes. Cross-cousin marriage is preferred among most Ewe and Fon groups, particularly with mother's brother's daughter. Anlo Ewe established a clan ( hlo ) system soon after their arrival in Anlo. Long-term Anlo residents are still divided into some thirteen clans, including the Blu clan, which was specifically created for resident strangers, made "Ewe" by virtue of their clan belonging. During certain periods, there has been a preference for clan endogamy.

Kinship Terminology. Brothers, sisters, and all first cousins are referred to as novi; father is referred to as to , and mother is referred to as no. Classificatory mothers and fathers, siblings, and cousins are also referred to by these terms. Other terms may differ between Ewe groups and between Ewe and Fon. An Iroquois system for parents1 generation is general among Ewe, except that in some regions father's brothers are ata rather than versions of to or eto (Anlo), reserved for father; and mother's sisters are na rather than no or eno , which is reserved for mother. The most significant variations are terms for father's sisters— ete (Anlo) or tasi (Guin-Mina)—and mother's brothers— nyrui (Anlo) or nyine (Guin-Mina). The Iroquois aspects are clearer in terms of address, which lump together parents, parents' same-sex siblings, and Ego's older siblings and cousins: efo (father or father's brothers), fofo or fofovi (younger uncle; cousin or brother older than Ego), fogan (older uncle or eldest brothers and cousins); da or dada (mother, mother's sisters), davi or dadavi (younger aunt, cousin or sister older than Ego), and dagan (older aunts and eldest cousins and sisters). Mother's brother and father's sister, however, do not have specific terms of direct address, but are addressed more formally as nyrui and ete. Fon employ descriptive terms for avuncular and nepotic kinsmen; cousin terminology is also descriptive.


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