African and Cambodian Societies
By: Raenisha Richardson
Diversity and World Cultures | HUM215 A08
Instructor: Tamatha Sells
In this paper I will be discussing the similarities and differences of the domestic lives and kinships of the African and Cambodian societies. The study of domestic life and kinship is one of the most important aspects of anthropology. It is important because it teaches you about the most influential part of any culture, the family. Once you are able to comprehend a societies meaning of family, you will learn the different dynamics within in the families. In African societies the “traditional family” can be categorized into three main categories; * Polygyny: Where a husband his wives and their children form a compound family. * Patrilineal: Where a group of brothers, sons, their wives, and their children form a joint family. * Matrilineal: Where a group of sisters, their husbands, and children form a joint family.
Polygyny was a very common practice in Africa between 1930 and 1950, and planted the roots of traditional family values. During this time villagers had two or three, chiefs had dozens, and the Kings had hundreds of wives. Over time there was evidence that having more than one wife was a burden economically.
In Uganda the Baganda society the clans are divided into patrilineal family units. These families usually consists of several married brothers, their families, elderly parents of the men, unwed or widowed sisters of the men, and children of the father’s clan that were sent to be brought up by the fathers. In this type of family unit all husbands are called fathers, all wives are called mother, and all children are sister and brother.
These clans are linked together by four main factors. First, the two animal totems which the name of the clan comes form. Second, signature drum beat for ceremonies. Third, is specific distinguishing personal names. Fourth, are special occasions regarding pregnancy, childbirth, naming of the child, and child’s clan legitimacy ceremony.
In Baganda society children go through three very impertinent rites of passages. The first rite of passage is what is known as the naming ceremony; before this ceremony a child is not considered a full member of the clan.
This ceremony consists of two parts: part one is held at the clan chief’s house. Mothers bring children (both boys and girls) and carefully kept umbilical cords, which the paternal grandmothers place in a can, containing a mixture of water, beer, and milk. If the cord floats the child is accepted into the clan; but if it sinks, the child is disowned. The second part is held after part one is complete. The paternal grandfather of the child will call out names of late ancestors, and when the child laughs then their name is chosen. The second rite of passage is when a child is weaned from their biological parents. Boys will live with the brothers of their fathers, and until marriage girls will live in the home of a married older brother or the brother of the father. The third rite of passage is preparing the children for their future. Girls are taught at an early age various household and agricultural chores, Boys are taught to herd goats, cows, and other livestock.
In Zambia the Bemba clans are divided into matrilineal families. These families consist of a man and his wives, their married daughters and their husbands and their children. The family house is located in the wives village. The husband will work under his father-in-law beside fellow sun-in-laws. Unlike patrilineal tradition the children do not have to go through any rites of passages. Even though they do not have any rituals children still taught: Girls are taught at an early age various household and agricultural chores, Boys are taught to herd goats, cows, and other livestock.
Unlike the African society the Cambodians definition of the traditional family cannot