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Original Research

Sociocultural factors influencing decision-making related to fertility among the Kanuri tribe of north-eastern Nigeria

Abdulkarim G. Mairiga, Abubakar A. Kullima, Babagana Bako, Mustapha A. Kolo

African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine; Vol 2, No 1 (2010), 4 pages. doi: 10.4102/phcfm.v2i1.94

Submitted: 31 May 2009
Published:  07 May 2010


Background: The Kanuri tribe is found in the Lake Chad basin. However, the majority of the tribe lives in Borno State, Nigeria. Before this study was undertaken, factors related to fertility decisions among the tribe were not known.

Objectives: This study is aimed at describing and documenting the sociocultural factors affecting decisions related to fertility among the Kanuri tribe.

Method: The study applied the qualitative research method. In-depth interviews and focus-group discussions were used as data collection methods. Analysis was done manually.

Results: Children among the Kanuri were highly valued and desired irrespective of their gender. The ideal family size, according to most of the respondents, was 16 children. Kanuri men are polygamous and can marry up to four wives in order to form large families. However, it is an abomination among Kanuri women to fall pregnant in quick succession; a phenomenon they termed konkomi. Other reasons for child-spacing were related to child welfare and maternal well-being. Methods for child-spacing included prolonged breastfeeding (Nganji yaye), ornaments in various forms and shapes, spiritual invocations and dried herbs (Nganji Yandeye). Few Kanuri women practiced modern methods of family planning.

Conclusion: Trends in fertility among the Kanuri tribe need to be monitored regularly and appropriate measures be taken to introduce and promote modern family planning and child health services to ensure a healthier family life.

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Author affiliations

Abdulkarim G. Mairiga, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, Nigeria
Abubakar A. Kullima, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, Nigeria
Babagana Bako, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, Nigeria
Mustapha A. Kolo, Centre for Arid Zone Studies, University of Maiduguri, Nigeria


Africa; beliefs; ontraception; couples; traditional family planning


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ISSN: 2071-2928 (print) | ISSN: 2071-2936 (online)

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