The Importance of Children in African Cultures
Because children are considered such blessings, a large family can elevate parents' social status. Yet on the flip side, if a woman from a polygamous ethnic group (a society that allows people to have more than one husband or wife) is not able to have children, her husband is entitled to take another wife. This way he may fulfill his role as a father and an ancestor.
Particularly in West Africa there is a strong belief in the ability of one's ancestors to live on through the memorial offerings of their children. So people also need children to help keep their memory alive after they die.
Lastly, children are a valuable economic asset. In farming communities children help with planting, harvesting, and managing the household. And herdsmen often assign children the task of looking after the herds. In later years, young men may help support their families, and young women may bring bride wealth to the family when they marry.

© Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University,
Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester and Dallas Museum of Art
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