chapter  6
22 Pages

Marrying at Home, Marrying Away: Customary Marriages and Legal Marriages in Ngazidja and in the Diaspora


Ngazidja, the largest island of the Comoro group in the western Indian Ocean, is an insular immigrant society. For centuries, immigrants and infl uences from the Swahili littoral, the African hinterland, the Arabian peninsula, the Indian subcontinent, Madagascar and France have contributed to the constitution of a society that is syncretic and eclectic in its inspirations, but profoundly ‘authentic’ (in the words of one European visitor) in its expression. Mobility is a persistent feature of Ngazidja culture and Wangazidja (the people of Ngazidja)1 well aware of the provenance of their social structures and cultural markers have elaborated very specifi c strategies to deal with the wealth of external infl uences as well as both the arrival and the departure of signifi cant numbers of migrants.