Lobola …

Gents…I think we’ve been scammed. So…every time the topic about lobola comes up, aboMalume always say it’s how a man proves that he can take care of his future wife. They also reiterate their reasoning by saying that that’s how things have always been done or that how their great grandfathers did it and so on.

Next time this, ‘that’s how a man proves HIMSELF’ part comes up, ask him where his great grandfather got his cows from. Where did he work? Consider that back in the day people got married while they were teenagers. How and when would they have accumulated their wealth?

Here’s the thing, our forefathers were trust fund babies. When a man decided to take a wife and start his own family, he was GIVEN two things: cows and land. The cows he used to lobola his first wife came from his father, not from him. It was not him proving himself because, frankly, he had fokol to his name. This wasn’t necessarily the case across all of the southern African cultures and it differed from family to family, but it was still a very common practice among many. This narrative of lobola being proof of an individual’s potential is not ancient. Isuka la emakasi. It is how our elders tried to bend culture to fit into their own life circumstances. Lobola is an integral part of my cultural and spiritual beliefs, it is an extremely sacred component of bringing two families together. Yet it is not immune to change over time. My point is, culture has beeen in a process of evolution. Things ARE changing. The only way we are going to lose our culture is if we lose the core beliefs and not necessarily the elements around it.

Writer: Vus Ngxande