Kin Groups and Descent. The exogamous patrilineal clan ( oluyia ) is the fundamental unit of Abaluyia social organization. Clans may also have several exogamous subclans. There were at least 750 Abaluyia clans by the mid-twentieth century. Each clan has an animal, plant, or bird totem, as well as an ancestor for whom the clan is usually named.
Kinship Terminology. The Abaluyia use an Iroquoian system that incorporates classificatory kinship terminology. Grandparents and grandchildren are called by the same kin terms— guga for grandfathers, grandsons, and great-grandsons, guku for grandmothers, granddaughters, and great-granddaughters. Distinctions are made for the father's sister ( senje ) and mother's brother ( khotsa ), but clan relatives of the same generation (e.g., women and female in-laws) are called by the same term (in this case, mama ). Cousins are addressed by sibling terms, but, in some places, cross cousins are distinguished in reference.