Tswana - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Traditionally, Batswana marriage was a process marked by a number of rituals and exchanges between the two families. No single ritual or exchange was definitive in confirming the existence of a marriage. Bride-wealth ( bogadi —typically eight head of cattle) exchange was the most elaborate materially and ritually but it often occurred several years after the couple had been cohabitating, after children had been born, and occasionally after the death of the wife. Church and civil marriage have begun to replace traditional marriage, which has removed some of the ambiguity in marital status, but many people who observe "modern" marriage procedures still conduct traditional rituals and pay bride-wealth. Some tribes have prohibited bride-Wealth.

Polygyny, although not absent, is no longer common; serial monogamy and "concubinage" have, in some instances, replaced polygyny. Arranged marriages have largely ceased; however, despite the fact that spouses now choose each other, family approval is usually still sought and not always granted. Decisions are based less on the identity of the new spouse than on his or her family, the assumption being that families, not just spouses, are being joined together and that the right family will produce the right spouse. Family members (and sometimes even the chief) intervene if there are marital problems. The consequences of conjugal separation vary with the type of marriage and the stage of the marriage process. Civil marriages require formai divorce if the parties wish to remarry in the same way. If a "traditional" marriage dissolves, the wife usually returns to her natal home, taking some household property if she is the aggrieved party. Bride-wealth is almost never returned, attesting to the fact that its primary function is to affiliate children. The affiliation of children born before marriage or after divorce or widowhood is ambiguous and a subject of negotiation.

Batswana postmarital residence is ideally patrilocal; in some areas, overcrowding prevents this ideal from being realized. In addition, neolocal residence is common in urban areas, although most urban households maintain a rural residence.

Domestic Unit. A compound ( lolwapa ) typically houses a family or multifamily unit, including foster children and, occasionally, nonkin dependents or servants. It is headed by the senior male—or female, if she is single. The eldest (sometimes the youngest) married son often resides with his wife and children in his parents1 compound and eventually assumes headship of it. Younger married sons build their compounds near those of their parents, and co-wives maintain their own compounds adjacent to one another or separated by those of married sons or unmarried daughters. Grandparents may live with their children or occupy a nearby compound. 1f the latter is the case, they usually maintain close links with their children and "eat from the same pot." Over 40 percent of rural households in Botswana are now headed by single mothers.

Inheritance. Primogeniture and agnation are the most critical factors influencing inheritance. A man's eldest son inherits most of his cattle, other property, and political office, although the latter can be contested. Younger sons receive fewer numbers of cattle from their fathers. Daughters are occasionally given livestock, although a daughter's cattle may remain with her brothers upon marriage or be transferred to her husband. Daughters inherit their mother's household utensils. A deceased person's personal effects are inherited by his linked maternal uncle or the uncle's survivor. Boys and, sometimes, girls inherit an ox from their maternal uncle after they have given him a specified gift—usually a bull, first animal hunted, or first paycheck. (See "Land Tenure" for rules of inheritance regarding land.)

Socialization. Both sexes nurture children, but their care and upbringing are largely the responsibility of women and other children, particularly girls. Grandmothers devote much time to child rearing. It is often believed that a young mother is not ready to entirely care for her own children, and elder female kin take on the responsibility—either keeping children with them or regularly intervening and training the young mother. As young women increasingly pursue employment or education, infants and children are sent to live with their grandmothers. The conventional two-year breast-feeding period is being reduced. In the past initiation ceremonies existed for boys ( bogwêra ) and girls ( bojale ). During the confinement away from the village, the children were subjected to hardships and tutored in adult responsibilities and knowledge. These ceremonies were made illegal by the British and are now undergoing somewhat of a revival, although their functions in terms of education have been largely replaced by formal education.

User Contributions:

Mamooki Mangwegape
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jan 15, 2013 @ 9:21 pm
What do makoti call or identify each other in setswana

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: