Residence Choice and Household Location
My inability to get a complete door-to-door census makes it difficult to say with any certainty whether there is a pattern in newly married couples' actual place of residence and, if there is, what pattern is present. A majority of informants say that in their view, residence for a newly married couple is ideally in or near the groom's father's house. Further, a majority also say that if the choice is between living near the wife's parents or living equally far from both, it is better to live equally far from both.
Despite these fairly generally held ideals, my limited direct observation reveals no clear pattern of residence. Some couples live near the groom's family, some live near the bride's family, and many (seemingly the largest group) live about as far from one as from the other. The situation is complicated by the fact that Old Town is very crowded, and couples often have to live wherever they can find space. It may be that the majority's reported preference for virilocal residence is followed less than it is because people simply cannot find housing where they would like to find it. Whether this is so or not, the best assessment of the facts available to me is that there is no clear pattern of residential choice.
Table 2C shows who lives with whom rather than what household is near what other. It shows that the nuclear family is, generally, the most important domestic unit. Seventy-six percent of our sample involves people living in a household with their nuclear family kin. Almost half the households contain no relatives other than nuclear family kin, that is, no adults other than spouses and unmarried offspring. Since nonrelatives only rarely are part of households, this means that a large majority of community members live with a spouse and their children or, before they marry, with their parents and siblings.
Still, many households contain kin other than the spouses and their children. About half of the 111 households for which I have census data include at least one adult kin of the person who is said by the members of the household to be mwenye amri ("having authority," i.e., the household head). Widows and widowers, if they do not remarry, usually live in the house of one
of their children (or have one or more of them live in their house). Those without children or without those who can or will take them live where they can, most often in their siblings' or siblings' children's houses.
Married children living with one or both parents together with childless widows and widowers living with collateral relatives account for the roughly one-third of the surveyed households that include either the househead's parent or a parent's sibling.
The average number of children per household was 3.65 for male-headed households and 3.59 for female-headed households. This includes both biological children and children who are lelewa (roughly "adopted"; see below).