A Closer Examination of Family Group Decision Making in
help among members of the same clan.25 In this way, an extended
family clan combines resources and responsibilities to provide for
one another while maintaining a functional and self-sustaining
system.26 Furthermore, there is an expectation that a variety of clan
members will support in each child’s growth and development.27
A common theme among sub-Saharan African countries is
that children are the responsibility of the community, and in the event
that primary caregivers are not available, the community creates a
system to care for the child.28 Thus, kinship29 provides a sense of
security and obligation, giving each individual allegiance, status, and
position in society.30 Before there were governmental agencies to
deal with social problems, these responsibilities and obligations
traditionally fell exclusively on the extended clan family, supporting
its members and caring for the elderly, sick, orphaned, and
destitute.31 Accordingly, not only does the extended clan provide its
24 ‘Customary law’ is commonly understood as a body of unwritten rules
recognized by communities. C. M. N. White, African Customary Law: The
Problem of Concept and Definition, 9 J. AFR. L. 86, 87 (1965).
25 See Ekpe, supra note 16, at 487 (explaining each family is supervised by the
patriarch who assumes custody of the goods of the family, and along with ‘family
counselors,’ settles problems between members and makes decisions affecting the
welfare of the family).
26 Brown et al., supra note 20, at 70.
27 Id.; see also Varnis, supra note 12, at 149 (“Over time, others in the family and
community play an increasingly important role in the care of the child, particularly
in terms of socializing and teaching the child through direct instruction and
28 JUDITH L. EVANS, THE CONSULTATIVE GRP. ON EARLY CHILDHOOD CARE &
DEV., CHILDREARING PRACTICES IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA: AN INTRODUCTION TO
THE STUDIES 1, 7 (1994), http://www.ecdgroup.com/download/cc115bca.pdf
(looking specifically at practices, patterns, and beliefs in Mali, Nigeria, Namibia,
Zambia, and Malawi).
29 Kinship is a system of social relations understood as “pure-relational,” depending
on how people understand or conceptualize the relatedness. F.K. Lehman, The
Place of Kinship in the Social System: A Formal-and-Functional Consideration
with an Appendix on Descent and Alliance, 6 STRUCTURE & DYNAMICS: E
JOURNAL ANTHROPOLOGICAL & RELATED SCI., no. 1, 2013 at 1, 6.
30 Ekpe, supra note 18 at 485.
31 Id. at 487.