Nubians - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Cross-cousin marriage is the preferred marriage type. Intermarriage among the various Nubian groups was and is still rare. Only women are bound by endogamous marriage rules. A dowry is exchanged as a sign of public declaration of marriage. The dowry then becomes the possession of the bride, and it may not be returned even if the marriage is not consummated. The age of marriage among the Nubians after relocation has risen because of economic conditions and the legal establishment of a minimum marital age. Divorce is frowned upon by tradition, and the demographics as well as the marriage rule of (Egyptian) Nubians leaves divorced women scant opportunity for remarriage.

Domestic Unit. Before relocation, the extended family (bayt) constituted the domestic unit in Nubia. This was a unit of at least four generations of double descent. The able-bodied men worked in cities and sent remittances. Owing to the pattern of land and dwelling redistribution that occurred after relocation, the domestic unit became smaller, encompassing only two or three generations of relatives.

Inheritance. The Nubians in some cases follow the Sunni Islamic rules of inheritance, which grant males double the share of the females. This share is passed on both from the father and the mother, if there is a male heir. In cases of land, however, such rules do not hold true (see "Land Tenure").

Socialization. The family in old Nubia was the primary agent of socialization. The mother and other womenfolk did most of the child rearing. Fathers played a minimal role in socialization, given that they mainly worked in cities. Older men presented the male image in the process of socialization. Today, with universal education policies, the introduction of electricity, and the integration of the Nubians into their respective states of Egypt and Sudan, the school, the radio, and the television provide additional socialization agencies.

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