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Feb. 23rd, 2017

Side notes: the first genocide of the 20th century

In contemporary Namibia, early German settlers found that the Namibian pastorals could not be easily converted to Christian, and that they were "difficult" to work with. Added with German's will to claim large plots of land for farms and ranches, mass genocide of Namibian pastorals was conducted to the extent that ~80% of them were murdered by the German settlers.

Colonial conditions: family, kinship, and community

In the context of divide-and-rule, one of the by-products was the "false division" between people. Westerners still recognised different groups of people as "tribes" - which was created with the impression of segmented political system - connections via lineages/families, but not race or ethnic. The "tribe" is an expression of misunderstanding of family connections and political structure in Africa.

However, concepts became rigid over time. Divide-and-rule based on characteristics on language, lifestyles, and cultures - the European ways of living were imposed upon the Africans, a principle feature of colonial rules in Africa. Races and ethnicities in Africa were more or less created by the European colonial governments.

Practical elements and reasons

Kinship is a concept constructed with marriages, ancestors, or lineages. African marry for love, families are as important to Africans as that to the Americans (Why are we asking these questions? Marriage freedom in Africa?) Marriage in Africa is a negotiated union between two extended families, and this union of two prior families gives advatages to both.

Changes in marriages and family affiliations occurred in events such as the colonial rules and independence movements, therefore, we are discussing the "traditional" family life and kinship in this lecture.

The idea of people could marry because of love is not that much older than mere hundreds of years ago. In Africa (with generalisation applied), people were open for the practical reasons for marriages - what are the functions for marriage?

Marriage is seen by both parties as union between families, with mutual benefits and advantages.

Bridewealth (Brideservice)

The so-called concept of bridewealth was wide spread in the pre-colonial Africa - although not favoured by colonial rulers, and attempted to stop this system, the practice and recognition of bridewealth continued to exist - albeit the concept changed over time.

The idea is that the male side of marriage must contribute to the bride side. This contribution could be money, material goods, agricultural products... anything of value to a given society - just take it as a marriage registry, but only contributed to the bride - to demonstrate that the husband may be worthy of creating living for their future family, that he will be able to work hard and diligently; it also shows the bride that the man understands the necessities of family life, for both his companion and his children; moreover, and it varies, when women married, they would move to live with her husband (patrilocality), and bridewealth was used to compensate for the lost labour (and emotional bonds) from the daughter of the old family.

In addition to love, marriage is a contract between two families - a sense of confidence given to both parties.