Khoi - Marriage and Family



Marriage. Clans were exogamous, and men from one clan thus had to seek wives in another. Given the geographical proximity of related clans, it was possible for many men to find wives within the tribe; however, marriage between members of different tribes was also common. Marriage served as a powerful social mechanism to unite members of the tribe or to link different tribes together. This bond was reinforced by the custom that the bridegroom had to spend the first few months of marriage (often until the birth of the couple's first child) living at the village of his parents-in-law. (This practice has sometimes been referred to as bride-service). Thereafter, residence was patrilocal. Marriage usually involved the transfer of cattle from the groom s family to the bride's parents. Polygyny was permitted but not very common.

Inheritance. Individual clans or tribes controlled access to land and the resources on it, but there was a clear understanding that land could not become the property of individuals. By contrast, all stock were individually owned, and a wealthy stock owner was accorded high status. Wealthier stock owners almost invariably acquired their stock through inheritance. Customary inheritance patterns varied: in some tribes, the inheritance was shared among all the children; in others, only sons inherited; in yet others, the eldest son was the only heir.

Socialization. Parents were responsible for training their children in the basic subsistence skills, following the basic sexual division of labor. Very close relationships existed between grandparents and their daughters' children, and between children and their mother's brothers. Relationships between brothers and sisters and between a father's sister and her brother's children were respectful and formal.

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