It takes a village to raise a child: everyday experiences of living with extended family in Namibia

by Emmerentia Leonard, Janetta Ananias and Victoria Sharley

01 Jun 2022
Journal of the British Academy
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Number of pages
23 (pp. 239-261)

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Abstract: The family is the fundamental group of society and the natural environment for the growth and well-being of children. The Namibian Constitution protects the family, without specifying what ‘family’ means—which allows for legal concepts of family to evolve to fit social realities. The caring for children, most commonly by extended family or kinship carers is widespread and a practice acceptable in most Namibian cultures in the spirit of Ubuntu. This article foregrounds the importance of carer-child relationships in the care provided by extended family for children who do not live with their birth parents. It further investigates children’s everyday understandings of what family means to offer a multiplicity of experiences of child fosterage practice. These are presented from a range of carers and children within the fosterage context and considered within children’s unique and positive relationships within their families.

Keywords: Extended family, family, fosterage, kinship care, Ubuntu, Namibia.

Article posted to Journal of the British Academy, volume 10, supplementary issue 2 (Searching for the Everyday in African Childhoods).

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