Traditional Family Life
The Tiv tribe traces its descent paternally but a few maternal ancestors appear further back in the family tree. Authority among the Tiv lay basically at the compound level and was vested in the oldest male member of both the nuclear and extended families in a form of gerontocracy. A compound is made up of the Compound Head (Orya) his wives (Kasev) and children (onov), his younger brothers with their own wives and children. Occasionally the compound includes people who come to live among them as distant relatives or in-laws to some other members of the extended family. A compound is known by the Compound Head"s (Orya) name and in the event of death, his first born son or his surviving most elder brother succeeds him. However, if his surviving brothers are younger than his first born son then the son would succeed him. The principle is that the most senior man by age is expected to become the next Compound Head (Orya).
A compound is designed with a large space in the center for group activities such as dancing, meetings and funerals. It takes an oval shape and the Compound Head with his children occupy the upper end known as Ityough ki ya, the Ate is the common sitting room for reception of guests. The second eldest man to the Orya resides at the lower end of the compound known as Ityo ya.
The compound is a social unit where the young are socialized into the culture and taught the implications and repercussions of violating the cultural norms of the tribe. Socialization is carried out via a process of deliberate teaching such as the castigation of a child who has committed what was considered against the ethics and code of conduct of the tribe. Traditionally, every married woman has her own hut, at least after the birth of her first child.
Decisions affecting the compound had to be arrived at by consensus and if any member of the compound strongly disagreed with any decision of the Orya, he had the option of breaking away to form his own compound and this served as a check on the power of the Compound Head.
Property including utensils, animals and crops were regarded as being possessed in common, but as predominantly in the charge of the eldest male member for the benefit of the community.
If a younger brother wanted to sell an animal, he should first ask his elder brother in direct line and by not doing this, the younger brother commits no offense but a breach of etiquette and filial piety.
Brothers of the same parents may use one another’s entire property in common but where there are children of different wives as in a polygamous setting, they don’t have this right automatically but must first ask permission. (Move Europeans to back)
The only exception was that wives were the personal property of a man when he is alive and members of the compound or village had no right of promiscuous intercourse with each other’s wives.
The desire to rear a large number of children to provide labour on the farm was so great that an old man, when wooing a young girl would often induce her into marriage by telling her that she would only be marrying him in name as the real husband who would consummate the marriage was one of his strong young sons or grandsons.
On the death of an elder, the older widows continued to live in the compound as before and were supported by the heir, who also became the custodian of the younger widows and their marriageable daughters.
Modern Family Life
These days the Tiv live all over the world. New cultures of and ways of life have been adapted in order to sevive. Inter marriage, societal changes and migration to different parts of the world have led to a diluted/not traditional way of life.
Riddles and story telling was a very popular recreational activity