Kinship and Marriage in a New Guinea Village

By H. Ian Hogbin | Go to book overview

I0
Fulfilling Obligations

BUSAMA are so drilled during childhood in the moral obligations underlying kinship ties that when grown up they help one another almost as a matter of routine. Yet they are also fully conscious of their mutual dependence and of the risks they would run by defaulting. Ha'du and Nga'gili', on undertaking the management of Madulu's cultivations after his sudden call from the Mission (see above, p. 143), explained that they were not only thinking of him but also of themselves. This aid ensured that at some future time he would attend to their concerns. 'Today I wanted to go fishing with Gilingu', but by staying here I am making certain that tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that, Madulu will do my planting,' Nga'gili concluded. Equally down-to-earth was Busilim's statement about why he was giving a hand in the repair of Gi'lahi's thatch. 'It's enough that we two are older and younger brother. But if I didn't come now, how do you think I'd get along later? Gi'lahi would pay me back by stopping away from my work.'

Several men grumbled at different times about receiving inadequate help, but a little probing soon disclosed that they were at the moment tired, out of sorts, or disappointed by having to shelve some cherished project. If taxed subsequently with unreasonableness the majority were shame-facedly prepared to agree. As an instance I quote Titi's remarks when declining to accompany me on a trip to the pot-making villages in the south. 'I'd like to go but have to say "no". Nga'lu is building a new house, and as he and I are da-tigeng I've got to be there. You know, this sort of thing is always happening to me. Nga'lu and I are da-tigeng, so I work on his house; Gwaleyam and I are da-tigeng, so I work on his; Gwe'tam and I are da-tigeng, so I work on his. Yet not one of them was here to help me. Nga'lu said he was ill, Gwaleyam said he had business for the Government in Lae, and Gwe'tam--I forget now what it was with him, but he wasn't present. They're good-for-nothing loafers, that's what they are, fattening in idleness while I sweat.' If he felt so strongly why did he not tell them so to their face, I asked. 'I couldn't do that,' he replied. 'They'd be very angry and perhaps never help me any more. I'd be too ashamed.'

A few weeks afterwards I was able to remind Titi of his words. A party of his kinsmen were dragging a great log from the forest to make him a canoe, and although he had taken no part in bringing in Gwe'tam's log,

-154-

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Kinship and Marriage in a New Guinea Village
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • London School of Economics Monographs on Social Anthropology ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Contents viii
  • I - The Setting 1
  • 2 - Kin and Community 13
  • 3 - Kinship Terms 38
  • 4 - Birth and Early Childhood 53
  • 5 - Later Childhood and Adolescence 72
  • 6 - Awakening of the Sexual Impulses 94
  • 7 - Marriage 103
  • 8 - Husband and Wife 124
  • 9 - Supporting a Family 138
  • I0 - Fulfilling Obligations 154
  • II - The Last Years 164
  • References 171
  • Index 174
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