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Most of the people who live along the southern coastal strip here are Digo, and their neat rectangular houses, made of dried mud and coral on a framework of wood, are a distinctive part of the lush roadside scene. Digo women tend to dress very colourfully in multiple kangas. Although they belong to the Mijikenda group of peoples, the Digo are unusual in traditionally having matrilineal inheritance: in other words they traced descent through the female line, so that a man would, on his death, pass his property on to his sister’s sons rather than his own. It is an unusual system with interesting implications for the state of the family and the position of women. However, the joint assault of Islamic and European values over the last century has shifted the emphasis back towards the male line, and in many ways, women in modern Digo society have less freedom and autonomy than they had a hundred years ago. The site of one of the Digo’s ancestral villages, a sacred forest at Kaya Kinondo, near Diani Beach, can be visited with a Digo guide.

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