Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: January 26, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412964623 | Print ISBN: 9781412936361 | Online ISBN: 9781412964623| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Molefi Kete Asante
Family in Africa is characterized by persons, unborn, living, or deceased, who are related to each other or may become related to each other through direct blood and ancestral affinity. Members of the same family are related to a common ancestor in biological as well as sociospiri-tual terms. The African idea of family comprises all of the members from a particular lineage. This lineage might be, as was usual in most cultures, matrilineal or, as it is increasingly, patrilineal. A household may consist of several generations from the oldest member of the family to the youngest. Indeed, coresidence is not necessary, although proximity is usually required. From this perspective, it is possible for a family to have several locations or houses and the children of these several houses belong to the same family. In most cases, where polygamy exists, children live with their mothers. This entry looks at the role ...