The African Family Between Tradition And Modernity.
This book chapter studies the African family as being caught between tradition and modernity. The African family is a social unit with norms and beliefs and an economic unit for the survival of its members. Families include a wide net of members that can include brothers, sisters, unborn children, and departed relatives. Households are the smallest unit of the family and include parents and children. One or more households comprise a village or compound. Communities hold ceremonies and have recognized elders or leaders who perform the ceremonial rites; however, tribal identities are fading. The African family is changing due to socioeconomic factors. Young members must assimilate new religions, science, politics, technology, and modern market economies. Better health care is yielding larger populations. Modernization has created new situations unknown in traditional lifestyles. Youth are poised between the traditional solidarity which supplied land, customs, ethics, rites of passage, a burial place upon death, customary law, religious participation, and ethnic identity; and modern lives of economic activity, education, transport, communication, and political debate. Modernization has brought problems of housing, employment, income, alcoholism, prostitution, and corruption. Families are asked to contribute to funding for schools, health care, and churches. A serious family problem is the necessity for men to work in towns, on plantations, or in mines away from the homestead. This chapter discusses the family and population size, the growth of family fertility rates, and the interactions and consequences of age distribution and birth spacing.
CitationFamily, population and development in Africa, edited by Aderanti Adepoju. London, England, Zed Books, 1997. 60-77.
University of Nairobi