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November 9, 2016
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April 19, 1999
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PDF icon CIA-RDP83-00423R001201170008-1.pdf146.4 KB
Approved For Release : CIA-RDP83-004238001201170008-1 Notes on Human Fertility in Central Africa by Frank Lorimer 1. Preliminary observations The xelative survival of various societies in Africa was mainly determined by the degree to which the social organization of each society met two critical needs. The first of these needs, was, of course, that of orderly social life, wherein the interests and activities of individuals promote the accepted values of the society -the primary criterion of social organization under any condition. A second critical need in the African situation, as in Central Asia or the North American plains, was provision for efficient warfare. Each nation was exposed to conquest by other nations and, in turn, each nation had the opportunity of adjusting its resources to its population through. military migrations and con- quests. Most of the dominant tribes in Africa, especially in East and South Africa, had during the last few centuries moved into the positions that they the late nineteenth century.. There were no effective natural barriers to migration; a stable, sedentary civilization, capable of resisting conquest by invaders, was never established anywhere in Africa south of the Sahara- though some nations may have been in process of achieving such status at the time of their conquest by European powers. These basic needs, (1) for social order and (2) for military power, were generally met in Africa by types of social arganizatiar~ involving unilateral kinship relations as a primary factor in their social structure. A patrilineal ar matrilineal lineage tends to acquire corporate character through the exercise of religious and economic functions. It maintains its unity through successive generations - without the repeated reshuffling of relations that occurs if kinship is reckoned in all directions. A. competitive, continuing lineage, re- inforced by mystical bonds with ancestral spirits, generates powerful motivation Approved For Release : CIA-RDP83-004238001201170008-1 Approved For Release : CIA-RDP83-004238001201170008-1 - 2 - for extending its life, and increasing its power and prestige, through procrea- tion. The traditional cultures of the dominar~.t African societies, therefore, provide strong motivation for high fertility. Polygyny, which is also widely prevalent in africa, provides an efficient means, in the case of a patrilinea7. society, of expanding lineages through the assimilation of women and children acquired by conquest or purchase. The African scene, therefore, promoted in- crease: of tribal populations, and. the solution of resultant population pressures through wars and migrations. Culturally established insitutions for the cont.ral of fertility, notably approval of infanticide, are found only among the fugitive Bushmen in the .vicinity of the Kalahari Desert, and perhaps among displaced Hottentots in the same general region. Two other widespread African practices have sometimes been interpreted as the measures for the control of population; but these interpreta- tions are open to question. The tabu on sc121a1 i.ntax course with nursing mn?c,3~er~s can be interpreted primarily as a measure for promoting the survival of infants. And the limitation of junior maJ:e age classes to prescribed modes of inc~atnple~~a se~aal interaaurse,, as among the Zulus the N2asai, and the Nuery h