Kin Groups and Descent. On the macro level, Ndebele society is structured into approximately eighty patrilineal exogamous clans ( izibongo ), each subdivided into a variety of subclans or patrilineages ( iinanzelo or iikoro ). Totems of animals and objects are associated with each clan. The three- to four-generational lineage segment ( i aro ) is of functional value in daily life (e.g., ritual and religion, socioeconomic reciprocity); it is composed of various residential units (homesteads) (imizi).
Kinship Terminology. Classificatory kinship applies, and with similar terms in every alternate generation—for example, grandfathers and grandsons ( obaba omkhulu ). Smaller distinctions are drawn between own father ( ubaba ), father's elder brothers ( abasongwane ), and his younger brothers ( obaba omncane ), although all these men on the same generation level may be called ubaba.