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Togo - Traditional Features Of Marriage And Family, Factors In Change Of Family Life, Contemporary Marriage And Family Patterns

living contact ancestors western


In Togo, a West African nation that lies between Ghana and Benin, the term family is broadly defined. A family is more than a husband, a wife, and children. Blood relatives of both spouses are considered part of the family, and the extended family embraces all relatives, living or dead. There is a strong cultural belief that ancestors, also called the living dead, are spiritually in contact with the souls of the living. Families often show reverence to their ancestors during ceremonies marking major life-cycle events and achievements, such as the birth of a child, marriage, death of a family member, or a professional achievement. Traditional social and cultural beliefs have regulated marriage and family behavior for many centuries. The social organization of most ethnic groups was based on a patrilineal system of descent, where sons were given inheritance over daughters (Fiawoo 1984). Some features have changed because of contact with Western civilization. However, instead of a convergence to the Western nuclear family model, the family has adapted traditional features to contemporary contexts and constraints.

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