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Among the Lugbwara of Northwest Uganda and the Congo a man receives back on divorce the marriage dowry paid by him less a specified fine for each child born to him, although he has no rights in the children, who accompany their mother and remain with the mother’s family. . . . In this instance what appears to be illogical proves on examination to be the reverse. The essence of marriage is the payment of a dowry by the husband to the bride’s family. Without the dowry there is no legal marriage and any children born to such a union ate illegitimate, and for each child so born the father has to pay specified damages to the woman’s family. On divorce the husband’s dowry, consisting of livestock, is returned to him with their increase, and the woman returns to her family with her children. As, therefore, there is now no dowry and consequently no marriage the status of the children is that of illegitimacy—though this carries no stigma—and the man has to pay the indemnity prescribed for illegitimacy, which results from the nullity of the marriage.1

1Driberg, J.H.n/an/an/an/a, "Primitive Law in Eastern Africa," , 1: 63.


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Chicago: "Africa," Africa in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. Thomas, William I. (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937), Original Sources, accessed February 23, 2024,

MLA: . "Africa." Africa, Vol. 1, in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, edited by Thomas, William I., New York, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937, Original Sources. 23 Feb. 2024.

Harvard: , 'Africa' in Africa. cited in 1937, Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. , McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., New York. Original Sources, retrieved 23 February 2024, from