Kongo - Kinship

Kin Groups and Descent. In Zairean law, all traditional kinship groupings have been abolished and replaced by a modified type of European family. In practice, every MuKongo identifies himself by reference to his mother's clan and the village in which it is domiciled. Exogamous local sections of each matrilineal clan are divided into landowning houses, and these, in turn, into lineages functioning as inheritance groups.

Kinship Terminology. BaKongo can trace their relationship to others through only one of several routes, depending on the situation. Two persons occupying the same status with respect to any third party are said to be "siblings," mpangi. When reckoning is by clans, this principle generates a terminological pattern of the Crow type, in which mother's brother's daughter is equated with "child," mwana, and father's sister's daughter with "father," se. When reckoning is traced from individual to individual, the pattern becomes Hawaiian, meaning that all cousins are called "sibling." Most kinship terms apply to relatives of either sex.

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