Tswana - Kinship

Kin Groups and Descent. Agnation is emphasized in Batswana kinship: along with primogeniture, it traditionally had the greatest influence on inheritance of property and succession to office. Individuals were identified with and came under the jural authority of their agnatic group ( kgoda, or the diminutive kgotlana ); however, the formation of discrete agnatic units was and continues to be inhibited by the marriage system, which permits cousin marriages of all kinds. Patrilineal parallel-cousin marriages of near kin, although practiced mainly by the elite but permitted to all, serve to complicate the principle of unilineality and create ambiguous and overlapping links. Thus, there is a cognatic element to the system, which places emphasis upon kindreds (sing. losika ) and gives greater license to individuals to "construct" their social networks than is found in many patrilineal societies.

Kinship Terminology. With the exceptions of the term for cross cousin ( ntsala ) and the term for sibling of the opposite sex ( kgaitsadi ), virtually all Batswana kinship terms imply relative seniority and thus, relative authority. It is a classificatory system that distinguishes cross from parallel cousins (parallel cousin terms are the same as sibling terms), siblings of the same sex (these are distinguished by seniority) from those of the opposite sex, father's sister ( rrakgadi ) from mother's sister ( mmangwane ["small mother"]), and mother's brother ( malome ) from father's brother ( rrangwane ["small father"]). Parents' older siblings are referred to by grandparental terms ( rremogolo ["great-father"], mmemogolo [great-mother]). There is considerable variation in the use of affinal terms.

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