Controlling Aspects Of Pokomo Elders In Socio-Economic Settings

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When it comes to the status of women in Pokomo, they were considered as blessings. An elder would practice polygamy in order to bear more daughters so as to increase the potential of his wealth and status in the society. Having more daughter means more dowry. On the other hand, an elder having more sons means that his land will have to be shared equally to all his sons thus more sons in a family meant less land they will have to share equally.

When it comes to marriage, there were rules that governed marriages that favoured the elders. A dowry was paid by the man and could take years to finish. In some cases when the bride-groom dies, his offspring will be compelled to pay the dowry of their deceased father.

Back in the earlier days, dowry not only was from garden produce, meat and honey beer but also it extended to imported goods such as cotton, red ochre (zazi), lead, brass wire, ivory and iron.

The exported goods were expensive to acquire during those time and a man would have to struggle in order to get them. This made the elders position as the centre in the economy. The younger generations were fully dependent of the elders until they became elders themselves.

Another aspect of the elders is that a Pokomo man cannot inherit a land from his father until they get married to a woman. Before they marry, they have to undergo the lowest three ranks of the men’s secret society. Climbing those three ranks means one had to pay the elders first. Again, when planning to marry, a man had to pay a dowry. The man will not be in any position able to negotiate the bride price instead there will be representatives in both parents. In the end the elders are the one who had the rights over the transfer of women and their children plus the amount of bridewealth to be paid.

Pokomos practiced exogamy, that is, one is not allowed to marry within one social group. This was mostly seen in the lower pokomo sects. Again, it was an abomination to marry a daughter of your agemate. This is because marrying their daughter means you will have to respect them as your in-laws, something that would take away the liberty of agemates. To avoid this, the elders had set rules that a father-in-law should be atleast 15-20 years older. This again gives the opportunity to elder to control over the younger generation.

Elders also controlled the notion that only kijo sects could approach God and their ancestors, and only them could see the ngaji. The father had the wielding power to curse their offsprings and lifting the curse had rituals involving spraying honey beer and invocation of the ancestors which only elders could perform.

All this gave the elders to be on top of the food chain when it comes to social economy. The younger generations would always work for the elders. It was also a normal practice that the elders owe no one in the community. Although these practices were highly preserved, the coming of foreigners made the younger generation rebellious and thus most of these practices were abandoned.

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