Turkana - Kinship

Kin Groups and Descent. One of the fundamental units in Turkana social organization is the exogamous patrilineal clan ( ateker or amachar ). There are twenty-eight clans among the Turkana, and, in general, they crosscut the sectional boundaries; some of the smaller clans, however, are quite localized. Each clan is associated with a particular brand for its livestock, and an individual can identify a relative in a new location in this way. Clan members call upon each other for help in times of need, but clan membership implies more of an opportunity for an individual to seek assistance than an obligation on the part of the person from whom it is requested.

Kinship Terminology. Kinship terminology is classificatory, but does not form a uniform system with respect to clan members. Terms such as those for "mother," "father," "brother," and "sister" are sometimes extended to clan members, but, to a large extent, this usage is based on the strength of individual relationships.

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