Family Life

Medieval Africa

Family Life


  • People in Medieval Africa often lived in extended families, or families made up of several generations.
  • They included anywhere from ten to hundreds of members.
  • Many villages were matrilineal, meaning they traced their descent through mothers rather than fathers.
  • When a woman married, however, she joined her husband's family.
  • To make up for her loss, her family received gifts--cloth, metal tools, cattle, or goats-- from the husband's family.
  • All families valued you children, and they saw them as a link between the past and the future.
  • They believed that an ancestor might be reborn in a child.


The wife receiving cloth as a gift from the spouses family to give to her family.

-Ana Ortiz