Lobola: Relevant or not

We live in a modern world where many tend to forsake the traditional customs to follow the era of change. This trend also applies to marriage.  However, the universal importance of marriage still abides though the way it is celebrated varies according to different cultures. 

Credit photo : Pkchai Dreamstime.com


February 6 th, 2015




In Africa, this ceremony is of the highest importance because it is both a spiritual and a social family affair involving the combination of two lives, two different families and even communities. Many choose to stick to traditional while some others pursue the modern way. Wherever it is held, be it in a church, in a mosque, by priest, an imam, in the bush or underwater, marriage should always be valued. It is common that there are many steps taking place before marriage of which the most important is the bride-groom ceremony.

Lobola commercialisation

Snatching a girl fromher parents’ hands is not that easy. Lobola, or universally known as ‘bride price’, involves the two families discussing how much will have to be paid for the groom to marry the bride. This step is traditionally a must before a marriage commitment is contracted. Whatever it is called, be it a compensation for the time and trouble taken to raise a daughter, or a symbolic respect towards the future family, we should bear in mind that the concept of marriage is love-based. Bride wealth is usually highly valued goods or a substantial amount of money in many countries while in SAheads of cattle slowly turn into cash. Many have interpreted this as a brand new way of doing business, especially when failure to meet the financial expectation has led to cancelling the wedding. Some families can claim up to 30 cows or R100,000 because maybe the daughter is a doctor. The lowest bride price is estimated to be 5 cows or R35,000. The commercialisation of this custom tends to lead many to follow the western culture, accusing the tradition of being barbaric.

Man claims lobola refund

When this tradition turns into a commercialised practice, the relationship will be in jeopardy. Some wives are forced to survive an abusive relationship because the family is not able to refund the cows or the cash taken from the groom’s family. Last year, a 44 year-old man claimed he wanted his lobola back because his virgin wife broke his manhood three months after tying the knot. Refunding bride price is a shame for both parties, especially for the newlyweds.

New app: Lobola Calculator

 “Someone just wasted a brilliant idea. The app doesn't ask enough questions, making the final figure inaccurate in my eyes. Lobola negotiations aren't quick, they take time because a lot needs to be discussed and found out about the bride-to-be. A few generic questions regarding age, whether you have kids or not and whether you have a degree are hardly enough to deduce your "value." ThembisileNkosi (26)

Weddings are important and every single step should not be undervalued. The act of marriage takes place in the heart but not in the ballroom. Love is the master key that opens your gate of happiness. It is better to plan your marriage before you plan your wedding. Marriage is not a matter wealth or ceremony. Never forget that parental blessing counts.




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