Middle Age and Old

The transition from adulthood to old age (obukofu) is associated with the end of childbearing and decline in physical strength for everyone and, for women, the end of menstruation. There is little association with chronological age (many older people do not even know their chronological age). Most women in their fifties call themselves "old," while many men that age and even older say they are "mature" (omwangafu), not old. In old age, women and men become more alike, respected for their years and wisdom, able to carry out rituals and advise their juniors. Often these activities are referred to as "the work of old people," but this work has been diminished by the geographic dispersal of families under capitalism, literacy and its associated body of new knowledge, and other factors.

A very old person (omukofu muno), physically or mentally frail, can do little productive work and thus no longer meets the responsibilities of adulthood. This is a time of dependence on others for the essentials of life, a time of waiting to die. The very old are generally regarded as being close to the ancestors and therefore possessed of ritual powers; after their deaths, they join the ancestor spirits (emisambwa) and continue to play a role in family life. As emisambwa women finally achieve equality, for the spirits of women are as powerful as those of men.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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