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
Procreation, the ability to reproduce and have children, is a central feature of the African value system. A premium is placed on childbearing because children are seen as the medium by which the ancestral name and heritage of the family is perpetuated. In other words, children ensure the personal immortality of families and the continuity of human existence. Indeed, in most African societies, children are seen as reincarnations of ancestors. A person who bears no children, and therefore has no descendants, in effect terminates social reproduction and extinguishes the family line. For this reason, procreation is celebrated, and having many children is highly honored. Fertility is therefore a fundamental prerequisite in marriage. The ultimate purpose of marriage is procreation: Without procreation, marriage is not fully consummated. Not surprisingly, there is a general abhorrence of barrenness and sterility in African ...