Lakalai - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Marriages may be either arranged by the father and mother's brother of each partner, acting together, or result from elopement, if the kin of the couple give their approval. Sister exchange is liked, but it still involves bride-wealth, which is contributed by the groom's clan and that of his Father and is highest for arranged marriages. Divorce is rare after the birth of the children, most of whom stay with the mother, especially if she did not instigate the divorce. Many men try polygyny as an alternative to divorce, but women strongly dislike the practice, and stable polygynous marriages are rare. Both the sororate and the levirate are practiced. Postmarital residence is normally patrivirilocal until the groom's father dies, at which point the man may join other kin, including clan mates. Christianity and other Western Influences have greatly reduced the incidence of arranged Marriages. An increasing number of younger Lakalai, especially men, marry non-Lakalai.

Domestic Unit. A woman usually lives with her husband's kin until several children are born, at which time the couple build a house of their own but may still share it with the husband's married brother or other kin. Increasingly, partly Because of mission pressure, a young couple may have their own house much earlier.

Inheritance. Most wealth is held by men, who can dispose of it before death, with the bulk being kept for the bride-wealth of sons. Productive trees may be planted for children of both sexes. Some magic, being clan-owned, should only be taught to a sister's child.

Socialization. This is primarily in the hands of the parents, aided by the father's elder brother. The mother's brother may give instruction, but unlike the parents and the father's brother, he should not scold or strike a child. Children are warned against involvement in clan feuds, and taught to behave in ways that will make them desirable spouses. Sexual behavior is relatively free, but a girl is expected to be secretive about her affairs. Extramarital pregnancy is strongly disapproved.

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