San-Speaking Peoples - Marriage and Family

Marriage. The majority of marriages are monogamous, with polygyny being restricted to the wealthier men. Marriages are ideally arranged by parents, in consultation with senior members of the kinship group. The Zhu I õasi prefer bilateral-cousin marriages, excluding first cousins; Khoe speakers prescribe cross-cousin marriage, including first cousins. The !Koõ permit marriage only to more distant relatives. The Zhu I õasi prefer virilocal postmarital residence for couples who are related matrilaterally and vice versa; the other groups prefer uxorilocal residence. Bride-service was once required, but today it is often replaced by marriage payments in livestock. Divorce is common until a child is born to a couple, after which time it is rare.

Domestic Unit. Each family has its own hut; adolescent children often build small huts for themselves next to those of their parents. Each wife in a polygynous family has her own hut. Families prefer to live in homesteads that include other members of their extended family.

Inheritance. Land-tenure rights are inherited at birth. Personal property and partnerships devolve from parent to child during the lifetimes of both.

Socialization. Children are instructed from infancy in proper forms of etiquette, especially toward kin. Corporal punishment is applied and ridicule is used, but threats are very rare. In the past, groups of adolescent boys were initiated in seclusion, but this is no longer done; circumcision is reported only for the Tshukhoe. Zhu I õasi, Nharo, and G I wi girls still go through a brief initiation at first menstruation. No female genital mutilation has been recorded for any group. Scarification of the face, back, chest (for men,) and thighs (for women) was commonly applied to mark important life events, but is seldom done now.

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