Lobi-Dagarti Peoples - Marriage and Family



Marriage. In the eastern groups, marriage is strictly virilocal and is effected by the transfer of bride-wealth in cowries and subsequently in cattle. The transfers take place over time, as the marriage is consolidated with the birth of children. Traditionally, the groom also had to bring parties to farm for his inlaws from time to time, although among the educated this practice tends to get commuted into a monetary payment. Each marriage invokes the construction of a new sleeping room and cooking hearth. Among the Birifor and the Lobi, when a fiancé comes to farm, he may eventually be allowed to spend the night with his future wife and, later, to have her visit his own house in return for further work. She did not usually reside permanently in her husband's house until after the birth of their first child. Initial bride-removal without bride-service, as in some cross-"ethnic" marriages, entailed a very heavy payment of five cattle, a form of marriage that is becoming more common. The children are members of both their patrilineal and their matrilineal clans. Nowadays marriage by elopement is more common, with the wife joining her husband straightaway and the bride-wealth being eventually paid.

Domestic Unit. The domestic unit is generally built on agnatic ties, given that wives join their husbands at marriage, but among the Lobi and Birifor, men do extensive bride-service, and some young children may grow up with their mother's brothers before their mother leaves for her husband's house. In most cases, the farming group is small. A man and his sons may farm together for a longer period among the groups in which patricians dominate. The dwelling group that occupies a compound may consist of several farming groups, and each farming group may be divided into smaller eating groups.

Inheritance. Among the Dagaba and the Wiili, a man's property passes first to his full brothers, if they are farming together, and then to his sons. Among the LoPiel, the LoSaala, the Birifor, and the Lobi, land passes in the paternal line, whereas movable property is transmitted first to uterine siblings and then to sisters' sons, leading to earlier splits in the domestic groups and to tensions between a man and his mother's brothers. A woman's property generally goes to her daughters if it is sex-linked, but livestock may go to her sons.

Socialization. Young children are looked after by their mothers and are breast-fed until they can walk and talk, when they "become humans" and are thus entitled to a proper burial (see "Death and Afterlife"). Later on, they are cared for by elder sisters or relatives, who involve them in their play. Boys go off in groups to herd cattle, whereas girls play more domestic games around the compound, helping their mothers from time to time by fetching water or grinding and pounding cereals. Among the Lobi, girls also look after cattle, although boys and girls pass this responsibility to their juniors when they are initiated into the Dyoro society.


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