Tairora - Marriage and Family



Marriage. Pairs of clans often have long-standing patterns of intermarriage, with adult males negotiating complex bride-wealth payments. Settlements have high rates of endogamy, but this practice is not an explicit preference; substantial numbers of women in-marry from enemy groups, with Marriages in the past sometimes incorporated into peace-making ceremonies. Individuals of both sexes typically are assigned likely spouses while still in childhood, with formal betrothal deferred until young adulthood. Virilocality is the norm, with a new bride usually moving into the house of her groom's mother, but exceptions can occur. Polygyny is allowed, though few men have more than one wife; cowives typically live in different hamlets and usually object strongly to their husbands' polygyny. Divorce or extended separation is not unusual, but they are formal options only for men; Traditionally, a married woman's only alternatives to an unhappy Marriage were running away or suicide. Remarriage for both divorcees and widows is usual; there are very few permanent bachelors and virtually no women (apart from albinos and lepers) who go through life unmarried.

Domestic Unit. Traditionally, out of concern for the supposed debilitating effects of contact with women, all males past the age of 10-12 lived in men's houses; a family Household would include one or more adult women (sometimes a mother and daughter, or sisters), their uninitiated sons, and unmarried daughters. Variants include households of several nubile young women or young bachelors. Increasingly, especially in the north, Tairora are adopting the practice of Nuclear families residing in a single household. Husbands and wives seldom form a work unit, except in early stages of Garden preparation.

Inheritance. Upon death, gardens and movable property ideally are claimed by adult unmarried children; otherwise they are divided among married sons.

Socialization. Responsibility for nurturing and socializing young children primarily falls on the women and older girls of a household; once male children are initiated and move into their fathers' men's houses, their socialization is largely taken over by adult males. Girls work side by side with their mothers from an early age, while boys are allowed to roam freely with age mates until adolescence. Distraction and oral admonishments are used rather than corporal punishment for young children, but older boys are sometimes disciplined severely in the men's house. Nowadays, and especially in the north, sizable numbers of children attend mission- or government-run schools, where parental supervision is limited.

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