The traditional African community encouraged having many children for several reasons, as evident from the provided documents:
- Upholding Family Values: The African traditional family played a crucial role in upholding and passing on cultural values and practices. By having many children, parents ensured the continuation and preservation of these traditions for future generations.
- Economic Sustainability: In traditional African societies, work within the family was divided according to age, gender, and social status. Each family member contributed to meeting the economic needs of the household and the wider community. Having many children ensured a larger workforce to cultivate the land, tend to livestock, and engage in other economic activities necessary for the family’s sustenance.
- Social Status: In some traditional African communities, a person’s social status was measured by the number of wives they had and consequently the number of children they had. Having many children was seen as a sign of wealth and prosperity, bringing esteem and respect to the family.
- Support in Old Age: The traditional African family system placed a strong emphasis on mutual support and care for its members. Having many children provided a social safety net for parents in their old age. The expectation was that children would take care of their parents and ensure their well-being.
- Mitigating Mortality Risks: High mortality rates due to epidemics, such as the HIV/AIDS epidemic, were prevalent in some parts of Africa. To mitigate the risks of losing all their children, families may have chosen to have many children as a form of insurance. This ensured that even if some children did not survive, there would still be surviving offspring to carry on the family lineage.
- Community Cohesion and Role Models: By having many children, traditional African communities aimed to create strong bonds within the community and foster a sense of unity. Children were seen as future leaders and role models, and having a large number of children contributed to the development and growth of the community as a whole.
Overall, the encouragement to have many children in traditional African communities was rooted in cultural, economic, and social considerations. It served to uphold family values, ensure economic sustainability, elevate social status, provide support in old age, mitigate mortality risks, and foster community cohesion.