Mbeere - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Bride-wealth paid out over a number of years legitimates marriage. Clan mates and second-degree cross cousins are ineligible to marry. Polygyny is valued but occurs infrequently. The number of wives is not limited by any cultural rule, although sororal polygyny is prohibited. At marriage, a woman takes up residence in her own dwelling at the homestead of her husband. He maintains his own sleeping quarters, where he can also entertain his age mates. If he marries a second wife, she will have her own residence, where she will cook and support her children separately from her co-wife. Traditionally, divorce was infrequent. Secondary patterns of marriage include the true levirate and the fictive marriage of women. These forms of marriage can occur when a union has failed to produce male heirs. Numerous changes in marriage patterns include increasing numbers of Christian unions and growing resistance to bride-wealth payment.

Domestic Unit. Each homestead is comprised of several types of domestic units, including elementary, polygynous, and extended families. Each married woman in the homestead normally has her own house, where she cooks, maintains her children, and is visited by her husband. Following initiation, a son moves out of his mother's house. The coresident patrilineal kinsmen of the homestead founder constitute the core of a shallow lineage. The founder exercises considerable, but not exclusive, authority in economic matters concerning the group.

Inheritance. Inheritance follows patrilineal principles. In polygynous marriages, the rules of the house-property complex operate. A man's allocation of land and livestock to his wife will pass to her sons. Daughters inherit only minor property such as household implements because they will receive allocations of land and livestock from their husbands at marriage. An elder son often inherits more than his brothers and is entrusted with the responsibility of managing the corporate property.

Socialization. Prolonged nursing and indulgent child rearing are the norm. Large homesteads and nearby female kin, both matrilateral and patrilateral, provide an extensive number of care givers besides the biological mother. Older women of the homestead, either grandmothers or classificatory equivalents, take an active role in nurturing children. Older siblings frequently act as nurses for the very young.

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Oct 24, 2011 @ 2:14 pm
i would like to know how the Mbeere tribe are organized in terms of gender i.e. are there gender-specific roles especially in agriculture? what are the gender roles like?
Nyambura Njagi
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Dec 14, 2011 @ 5:05 am
I would like to learn more about mbeere traditional dances in terms of their basic movements and message.
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Jun 11, 2013 @ 11:11 am
Would like to know rituals performed during marriage.

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