Courtship and Marriage

A tremendous amount has been written on marriage among the Tswana and is well reviewed in Griffiths (1997). Two of the more prominent aspects of these discussions have been the varieties of cousin marriage that have been practiced and the fluid construction of marriage as a process. Cousin marriage historically differed by class status, where elites and more politically prominent families favored marriage with kin on the father's side of the family. In contrast, for nonelites, preference for marriage with cross cousins, and in particular for a man, with his mother's brother's daughter was desirable, though often a parallel cousin (the child of a parent's same sex sibling) was a preferred marriage partner. Today, many Tswana individuals maintain that marriage should be a mutual decision between partners and one based upon love and affection.

Payment to a bride's family by a man and his family, or bogadi, is expected and historically took the form of cattle, and serves to signify the bonds and relationships between familial networks primarily in terms of lineage of children (Comaroff & Roberts, 1981; Kuper, 1982). Depending upon ethnic group, payment could occur prior to marriage or after children were born to the couple, and is important in the determination of kinship and lineage affiliation of those children. Typically, once an initial payment or serufo cow had been made, a young couple would cohabit together, go ralala (Schapera, 1938, p. 135ff; Suggs, 1993), sleeping in the house of the woman's family, and the marriage proposition would be discussed by her elder male relatives. As Molokomme (1990) points out, there are two systems of law, customary and common statutory law, that affect women's status as married persons.

As several authors note, (Brown, 1983; Izzard, 1985; Suggs, 1993) there has been a relatively steady decline in the rate of marriage in Botswana, although given the processual nature of this relationship such statistics should be understood in that context.

Individuals who have been widowed must remain abstinent for a period of 1 year during which they cannot engage in sexual activity without fear of illness in the form of boswagadi, "widows disease," a powerful and dangerous illness. Widows and widowers may remarry after that period of time has been observed, and in the past it was not uncommon for those widowed to marry the sibling of the deceased.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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