Marriage. Polygyny has almost disappeared. Bride-wealth consists of cattle and/or money ( ikhazi ). Marital negotiations between the two sets of families are an extended process that includes the stadial presentation of six to eight cattle and may not be finally contracted until long after the birth of the first child. Marital residence is virilocal, and new brides ( omak jothi ) are involved in cooking, beadwork, and even the rearing of other small children of various households in the homestead. Brides have a lifelong obligation to observe the custom of ukuhlonipha or "respect" for their fathers-in-law (e.g., physical avoidance, first-name taboo). A substitute wife ( umngenandlu or ihlanzi ), in case of infertility, was still common in the 1960s. In case of divorce, witchcraft accusation, and even infidelity, a woman is forced to return to her natal homestead. Currently, wealthy women with children often marry very late or stay single. Fathers demand more bride-wealth for educated women. Both urban and rural Ndebele weddings nowadays involve a customary ceremony ( ngesikhethu ) as well as a Christian ceremony.
Domestic Unit. The traditional Ndebele homestead ( umuzi ), based on agnatic kinship and intergenerational ties, consists of several households. Apart from the nuclear household, the three-generational household along agnatic lines still seems to be the prevalent one among rural Ndebele. Married sons of the founder household head still prefer to settle adjacent to the original homestead, provided that building space is available. A single household may be composed of a man, his wife and children (including children of an unmarried daughter), wives and children of his sons, and a father's widowed sister.
Inheritance. Although the inheritance of land and other movable and immovable household assets are negotiated within the homestead as a whole, Ndebele seem to subscribe to the custom of inheritance by the youngest son (the upetjhana ).
Socialization. The three-generational household enhances intergenerational contact; the absence of migrant mothers and fathers necessitates that grandparents care for children. Contemporary Ndebele households are essentially matrifocal, and children interact with their fathers and elder male siblings only over weekends.