Muyu - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Polygynous marriage is, and was, present, especially for men who could afford to marry more than one wife, who enhanced the man's wealth by caring for gardens and pigs. The Roman Catholic church attempts to introduce and maintain the value of the monogamous marriage. The basis of the marriage system is the institution of bride-price that provides the bride giver with the wealth he needs to obtain another wife for himself or his son. Bride-price thus makes the exclusive cross-cousin marriage and the open asymmetrical system possible. Especially in the southern part of the Muyu area, marriage to mother's brother's daughter was the ideal, while marriage with father's sister's daughter was forbidden. The bride-price also gave people much freedom of choice in selecting marriage partners. To a certain extent, freedom of choice exists also for the potential bride and groom, though in former times great pressure and even force could be applied to a woman if a high bride-price was available and could be paid in cash. The marriage system also supported the trade system by maintaining or creating trade contacts along trade routes even in remote areas. Postmarital residence was patrilocal and an independent family household was established. In the present village system, with several lineages living in one village, the bride can come from the same village as the groom. Today, the different lineages no longer necessarily live separately in different quarters of a village. Divorce is not common among the Muyu, because of the bride-price. The Roman Catholic church also discourages divorce.

Domestic Unit. The nuclear or polygynous family is the most common domestic unit living as a household in their own house.

Inheritance. Land and fishing waters are divided among surviving sons, the eldest son receiving somewhat more than the others. The rules of inheritance regarding articles of value are much the same as those regarding land. Here too it is the sons who inherit. However, the wife and daughters also receive a small part of this property.

Socialization. Children are raised by both parents, but after age 5 or 6 the boys spend more time with their fathers and the girls with their mothers. Emphasis is placed on independence and individualism, which means that from an early age the children have to take care of themselves as much as possible, such as fetching water for themselves or keeping their own gardens.

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