Khoi - Kinship



Kin Groups and Descent. The exogamous patrilineal clan was the basic unit of social organization. Although tribal groupings were unstable and mobile, and were not composed exclusively of clan members, the Khoi kept detailed oral genealogies of the origins of various clans and of the relationship between them. This knowledge was very important, since precedence within tribes and clans was by primogeniture.

During most of the twentieth century, descent has been used as an important indication of status—higher status being associated with "White" blood. More recently, the opposite trend has been emerging: people are keen to emphasize their Khoi history.

Kinship Terminology. Individuals were given both patrilineal clan names and "great names"—names inherited by a group of brothers from their mother, or of sisters from their father. In this way, men shared their name with their maternal grandfather, and women with their maternal grandmother. These names were closely associated with the pattern of institutionalized joking and avoidance relationships between kin.


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