Sara - Marriage and Family

Marriage. The Sara verb tar means "to love," but the notion of "tar" carries with it an additional connotation of "giving things." The idea that "giving" is intrinsically linked to "deep affection" is a basis of Sara marriage, which tends to be ideally viewed as a reciprocal relationship in which a husband gives grain and a wife provides services in exchange. It was believed that kin, especially mother's brother's offspring, were more likely than others to love each other. Payment of bride-wealth was a condition for creating marriages; it gave men rights to their wives' sexuality and children. Polygyny and widow inheritance were practiced. Divorce was possible, although wives, rather than going through the bother of divorce, simply opened their own fields, thereby gaining considerable independence.

Domestic Unit. A married man ideally builds his wife or wives houses adjacent to those of his father's household and thus resides patrilocally with his extended family. In fact, such households appear to occur in less than half the cases studied.

Inheritance. Traditionally, there was rarely much to be inherited. Although there were rules guiding inheritance of fields, these were rarely applied because land was abundant. In general, movable property went to younger agnates of the deceased. Some supernatural property—such as knowledge of how to turn into an animal, how to perform sorcery, and how to control besi spirits—was inherited from father to son or mother to daughter. A change has occurred with respect to the inheritance of certain new forms of movable property that require prior investment, such as plows or carts. These tend to be inherited by children rather than siblings.

Socialization. Child-rearing practices tended to be exacting. Children were expected to learn to behave. They were punished if they did not. The male initiation ceremony was important for inculcating gender roles (see "Ceremonies"). Today formal education is very much appreciated.

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