Women of Comoros

31 May 2017/ Day 5

Comoros: Matrilineality – Blessing or Curse?

The Comoros Islands are a volcanic archipelago off the eastern coast of Africa between Mozambique and Madagascar.  They cover only 640 square miles and have a population of around 800,000 making it small but densely populated.  98 per cent of the population in Comoros are Muslim but, unusually for a Muslim society, many follow the custom of matrilineality.

Matrilineality is a Latin word meaning “in the line of the mother” and it refers to the distribution and inheritance of property through the female line from mothers to daughters.  On the Comoros Islands the houses belong to women. When a daughter marries, the house will be passed on to her or another palm hut would be built in the courtyard.

Image by Jonathan Kulp / Public Domain

Men who marry move into the house of their wives and join their clan. Often, men will be unfamiliar with the habits and customs of their new family and many do not feel comfortable in the new home.  Unemployment is high in the Comoros, and men end up spending time playing cards or working in the fields.

Rashma tells a common story: “My biological father abandoned us when I was a small child so my mother got married for a second time. My stepfather came 2-3 times a week to eat or sleep. Otherwise, he was either at his original family or with his second wife.”

“I was lucky that my stepfather treated me like my half-sisters. From my mother, I learned different things in the daily business of housekeeping, cultural customs and how I can protect myself from evil spirits. Nevertheless, I live in fear of curses that could be imposed on our family.”

“I yearn for a responsible husband, who will be a good father to my children and that we’ll stay under the protection and blessing of God. “

How to Pray

  • The Comoros Islands are one of the poorest countries in the world and with a high fertility rate, feeding a large family is a daily struggle for many. Pray for this to change.
  • Health care and education are only minimally available. Less than half of children attend school and there are few doctors to care for the needs of the population. Pray for these basic needs to be met.
  • For the tiny Christian population (less than 2{1ef34f8f1cacfdc6c19f5319e487deec2393c82eacea09a13da7feed1a24e305}) to take the lead in addressing some of the needs of the Comoros and to be a light and blessing to the islands.

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