Clan (African Great Lakes)

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In the African Great Lakes region, the clan is a unit of social organisation. It is the oldest societal structure in the region, other than family and direct lineage. The structure is found in modern-day Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda.

Etymology[edit]

The term clan was first used in the nineteenth century by Europeans, due to the similarities to other clan systems found across the world.[1] The people of the area use a variety of vernacular terms to describe the concept: ubwoko in Rwanda, umuryango in Burundi, ruganda in the Bunyoro and Buhaya kingdoms, igise in Buha, ishanja in Buhavu and ebika in Buganda.[2]

Description[edit]

Clan membership is a loose concept, with the correlation to lineage based more on oral tradition and personal belief than on concrete evidence.[1] Clan members have dispersed over time, and are no longer associated with particular regions.[1] Clans differ somewhat in their nature from country to country: in Rwanda the clan is a very structured unit, with twenty in total, themselves divided into subclans. The same holds in Nkore, which has only four clans.[2]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Chrétien 2003, p. 88.
  2. ^ a b Chrétien 2003, p. 89.

References[edit]