Lozi - Kinship, Marriage, and Family

Kinship. The Lozi possess no unilinear kin groups. Despite a slight patrilineal bias, kinship is reckoned bilaterally, with relations traced as widely as possible through both consanguineal and affinal ties. They have eight noncorporate name groups called mishiku (sing. mushiku ), and a man can claim membership in any or all of them, provided that he is a direct descendant in any line of a person who was a member.

Marriage. Marriages are legitimated by the payment of a small bride-price. The practice of bride-service has fallen out of use, and postmarital residence is usually in the community of the groom. Polygyny is common, but the Lozi do not practice polyandry. Co-wives are accorded relatively equal status, although they are ranked according to order of marriage. The senior wife has a few privileges, such as first consideration in the distribution of food produced by the husband, but she has no authority over her co-wives. Neither levirate nor sororate are practiced. Divorce rates are high, and an individual Lozi may have had several partners during his or her lifetime. Marriages between close relatives, extending to third cousins, are prohibited; some cousin marriages occur despite this prohibition, but with the proviso that they may not be dissolved by divorce.

Domestic Unit. Residence patterns in marriage are loosely structured. Formerly, initial residence was matrilocal, whereas permanent residence later on was usually patrilocal. However, a man could take up residence in the village of any grandparent, and possibly even in the wife's father's village, if there were no available locations in his father's village. Incidences of avunculocal residence have also been reported for the Lozi.

The nuclear family constitutes the basic economic unit of Lozi society. In polygynous marriages, each wife has a separate dwelling and her own gardens and animals to tend. She has the rights of disposition of her own produce and receives a share of the husband's produce. Cooperation in production and consumption between co-wives is highly variable. The traditional ideal is that each wife produces only for her husband and her own children, but it appears that there has been an increased tendency away from this ideal of separateness. In the past it was common for one wife to prepare food for the whole polygynous unit.

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