Research Items

    • An Erratum to this article was published on 09 March 1929


    PREFERENTIAL MARRIAGE IN SOUTH AFRICA.—In Africa, vol. 1, No. 4, Werner Erselen studies the conditions of marriage among the various races of South Africa in order to show that the property-family marriage entails a number of obligations on the interested parties. When marriage depends, as it does here, on a bride price, the desire of a young man for marriage, entailing payment of property which he has not yet had an opportunity to acquire, ceases to be a matter for the individual and brings in the family. The bride-price is provided by the family. This among the Bantu is in the form of cattle, their only wealth. The types of marriage are cross-cousin marriage, when the children of brothers and sisters intermarry, but the marriage of the children of sisters is forbidden; the sororate, when a man marries his deceased wife's sister, but it is the third and not the second sister who may thus be acquired; and marriage by inheritance when a man's wives are appropriated by his heirs—the principal heir being the eldest son, his own mother going to a younger brother of the deceased. These forms of marriage with their variations in detail are the natural result of a system of contract between two families based on the exchange of women for cattle or other property of equivalent value. Among the Xosa, where the levirate does not exist, a widow may either marry a stranger who repays the cattle originally paid with a discount for each child already born, and retained by the husband's family, or she has to stay with her husband's people. In the latter case children born as the result of intercourse with nonrelated men are looked upon as the legitimate children of her deceased husband.

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    Research Items. Nature 123, 64–66 (1929).

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