Swazi - Kinship



Kin Groups and Descent. At the center of each Swazi homestead is the biological family, extended through classificatory kinship to maternal and paternal groups, the largest of which is the clan. The clan, as the farthest extension of kinship, contains a number of lineages in which direct descent can be genealogically traced over three to eight generations. The exogamous patrilineal clan ( sibongo ), with members usually residing in the same locality ( sifundza ), is the fundamental unit of Swazi social organization.

Kinship Terminology. One's father is called ubabe, whereas father's older brother is ubabe lomkhulu, and father's younger brother is ubabe lomncane. One's father's sister is ubabe lomsikati (female father). One's own mother, the other wives of his/her father, and his/her mother's sisters are called umake. One's father's brother's wife is also umake, and one's mother's sister's husband is also ubabe. One's mother's brother and his wife are called umalume. Grandfathers are called ubabemkhulu, and grandmothers ugogo, but the kinship terms can be specified by the addition of explanatory words (e.g., the paternal grandfather may be called ubabemkhulu lotala babe to distinguish him from the maternal grandfather). All grandchildren are umtukulu.


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