Lobi-Dagarti Peoples - Kinship



Kin Groups and Descent. Across the LoDagaa cluster, roughly from east to west, there is an increasing emphasis on the role of matrilineal descent groups. In the east, the Dagaba are organized on the basis of patrilineal descent groups alone. Several of these exogamous units exist in each parish. These lineages, which trace patrilineal relationships between their members, belong to wider named clans, segments of which are found in widely dispersed settlements, even those of different "ethnic" groups, roughly tracing out lines of migration. Groups to the west also have matrilineal clans, and all except the Wiili (and formerly even some of the LoWiili) inherit land and immovables agnatically and inherit movables (wealth, cattle) through the uterine line. Hence, the patricians are locally based, but the matriclans are dispersed. These groups are therefore variants of classic double-descent systems.

Patrilineal clans are numerous, each with its own prohibitions, often against the killing of a totemic animal or the eating of foods in a particular way. The clans are paired in joking relationships, and their ritual foci are lineage shrines. Among the Lobi and, to some extent, the Birifor, although patrilineal clanship is concealed, it is significant in landownership and in some ritual affairs, especially in the Dyoro initiations. The matriclans, right across the cluster, are basically four in number—Some, Da, Hienbe, and Kambire. The first two and the last two are paired in joking relationships, which are particularly important at funerals. These dispersed matriclans have particular loci where sacrifices are occasionally performed.

Kinship Terminology. In a double-descent system, one can refer to any kin either in the patrilineal or in the matrilineal mode. The patrilineal mode is Omaha, whereas the matrilineal one is Crow. The dominance of these different modes depends upon the strength of the relevant groups.


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