Family Patterns and Roles Today 

Family Patterns and Roles Today

  • Today nuclear families are replacing extended families i.e. most families today consist of parents and their biological children only.
  • The discipline of the children is in the hands of the real parents only i.e relatives have little said over the children today.
  • Children grow up considering their own feelings and wants without minding about other people’s wants.
  • There are many families today being headed by mothers/women.
  • There are also single headed families’ today i.e families with only one parent-either the father or the mother.
  • There are many families today headed by the children especially after the death of their parents.
  • African culture is eroded in today’s families and European culture is emphasized.
  • Most families today produce few children because many children are seen as a burden.
  • In most families today, both sexes of children i.e. boys and girls are valued unlike in the past where boys were more valued than girls.
  • In many families today, women and girls own property unlike in the past where property was only owned by the man.
  • Men/boys in families today are doing the work of women/girls and women are doing the work of men for example cooking driving building etc.
  • Formal/academic education is highly emphasized in today’s families other than informal education of the past.
  • Children today choose for themselves future marriage partners unlike in the past where parents chose for them.
  • Women are no longer inferior and some of them are superior to their husbands.
  • In most families today, there is equality of sexes i.e husbands and wives are equal and to have power to plan for the family.
  • Child abuse is very common in today’s families e.g. children are seriously beaten, burnt etc. on small issues.
  • Children are too immoral together with their parents in families today. This is seen in their indecent dressing and sexual relationships.
  • Monogamous marriages are becoming common in the modern families with many women left unmarried.
  • Marriage breakages and instability is common in families today, caused by women emancipation and decling African culture.
  • Sex education in families is collapsing due to the growing urbanization, formal education and threats of diseases like HIV/AIDS.
  • Intermarriages are common in African families today. The members have the freedom to marry from any tribe or race

What are the changes that have taken place in the present family set up? (12 marks) Approach:

It wants the ways in which family today has changed from that of African traditional society.

Reasons Why Family Patterns Are Changing Today (Reasons Why Extended Families Are Dying)
  • Modern education has had an impact on the size of the family. Children grow up in schools especially in boarding schools and so young people do not know their relatives and so are not close to them.
  • It has become too much economically demanding to care for such families in terms of education and other basic needs of life.
  • Increased migrations mainly rural- urban migration, this necessitates one to have a smaller portable family. People leave their relative in villages and go to urban areas for employment.
  • Increased urbanization with the associated expenses to cater for distant relative has resulted into people neglecting their next of kins.
  • Moral and cultural disintegrations, people no longer respect their cultural values due to inter-marriages.
  • People have learnt to be self-sufficient/ support, meaning that there is no need to look for relatives for support.
  • There is limited space for accommodation especially in towns and cities and not easy to house many people.
  • Due to increase in population, there is limited space for housing and farming and so difficult to surround oneself with relatives.
  • The existence of many contagious diseases tends to discourage free association of family members.
  • The development of modern technology e.g. mobile phones, internet tend to keep people apart, they communicate instead of visiting each other.
  • Globalization and search for jobs has led to great movement and leaving far from each other, hence loosening families.
  • Some people have decided to leave single lives and so do not want to be bothered by family obligations and relatives.
  • The increased indiscipline among many children makes many parents to try to isolate their children.
  • The changing role of women such as formal employment which makes women stay away from home.
  • The increased rate of inter-marriages. Some feels uncomfortable to attend to relatives.
  • The existence of wars has led to the disappearance of extended families e.g. in northern Uganda, many were disorganized due to war between UPDF and the Lord’s Resistance Army.
  • The influence of the women liberation movement and the so called women’s right.
Death in Traditional Africa 
  • Death is the transformation of one’s body into spirit. The loss of physical life to spiritual life.
  • In traditional Africa, death for the very old was counted very normal and went with great celebrations because the person was joining another world, the ancestry world.
  • It was treated abnormal for the young to die in society and thus such happenings were most often blamed on many other causes but not the normal death.
Causes of Death In Traditional Africa
  • Most people in traditional Africa died of old age.At certain time people could wear out and God could choose to call them hence having natural death.
  • Spiritual disrespect like insulting God and the gods was also a common cause of death in traditional Africa.
  • Violation of Oaths like swearing to speak the truth and then tell lies could also cause death to people.
  • Violation of Taboos/norms like having sex with close relative caused death to such people as punishment for the whole community to learn from.
  • Breaking of blood pacts by those involved annoyed the ancestors killing such people.
  • Disrespect of elders also caused death i.e the elders cursed those who undermined them which brought death.
  • Immoral acts such as rape, fornication and others caused death e.g among the Karamojong’s, girls could be killed if they had sex before marriage.
  • Witch craft/sorcery/magic was a common cause of death. The wizards could bewitch others killing them.
  • Natural calamities such as famine, floods and draught that hit people made many of them to die.
  • Accidents like falling from trees, drowning in rivers also sometimes caused death.
  • Diseases like malaria, sleeping sickness, syphilis and others caused a lot of death to people in traditional Africa.
  • Wars/attacks by enemies could bring death.eg the tribal wars between Buganda and Bunyoro killed many people.
  • Attacks from wild animals like hyenas, Lions, Leopards andSnake bites also poisoned the people leading to the death of some people.
  • Failure to fulfill the customary rituals like getting married, sacrificing to spirits caused death among the traditional Africans.
  • Curses especially by elders were believed to cause death. The elders were believed to be representatives of God and what they said could come to pass.
  • Insulting of God and dishonoring the mighty places of God through words or deeds could cause death.
  • In such places like shrines, God’s holy messengers resided there and they were meant to be respected.

Discuss the causes of death in the African traditional society. (13 marks)

Causes of Death Today
  • Old age/ natural death.
  • Disease and sickness e.g. AIDS, Cancer etc.
  • Wars/ political instabilities.
  • Domestic violence e.g. major Kazini.
  • Poisoning of food.
  • Suicide.
  • Capital punishments.
  • Natural calamities like floods, landslides earthquakes etc.
  • Drug abuse e.g. Serena Nebanda.
  • Abortion.
  • Child birth.
  • Mob justice.
  • Armed robbery.
  • Human sacrifice e.g. Kato Kajubi sacrificed Kasirye Joseph.
Burial Rituals in African Traditional Society ((Treatment of the departed or dead)
  • There were a number of ceremonies that were performed before and during burial and these included:
  • Washing or bathing of the dead before burial with water or traditional medicine e.g. among the Baganda they used “Binyirikisi” so as the dead to go to next world while clean.
  • They also shaved the bodily hair so as to begin a new life in the new world.
  • They cut off the bodily nails so as to begin a new life in the new world.
  • Putting oil or barter in the mouth, nostril or any other bodily opening.
  • The demands of the dead were always honoured to avoid natural calamities e.g. the dead were buried with material things like hoes, saucepan, needles etc.
  • In some cultures, they could sing and dance. The songs were intended to the people over come the sorrow and pain. 
  • There was lighting of fire in front of the house in the court yard especially elders and candles e.g. among the Banyoro and Batoro, they would light the candle for three days for a woman and four days for the man.
  • In some cultures, when the partner died, one could sleep with the dead partner to show much respect for him or her.
  • The dead were granted decent burial at home in the compound or the ancestral burial grounds and burial ceremonies were carried out especially for elders.
  • The dead were wrapped in the traditional wears e.g. among the Baganda the dead were wrapped in bark cloth locally known as “lubugo.”
  • During burial the dead were treated with religious rituals of prayers from the priests.
  • Those who committed suicide were caned or punished and they were buried indecently e.g. among the Baganda their dead body was not allowed to be touched.
  • Immediately death occurred the dead was closed the eyes and the Jews were tied.
  • The dead were kept in doors for some time before burial and once removed they could not take it back.
  • Death of the young was treated with grief and sorrowfulness because it was unexpected.
  • Death of an old person was treated to be normal because they were useless and went with great celebrations because the person was joining another world.
  • Young ones were buried earlier to reach quickly in the next world.
  • The death of the twins was treated with twin rituals of first announcing their death to fellow twins.
  • They used to bury the dead facing specific direction e.g. the Baise of the Ngabi clan among the Basoga buried the dead facing the East because the dead had to return where he come from.
  • They used to tie their waist firmly so as to become firm as they mourn e.g. in Buganda, the orphans were/are tied with banana fibers around the waist to be firm.
  • There was celebrations of the last funeral rites to make the climax of the mourning and make the mourners for get their sorrows.`

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