Does paying dowry (Lobola) mean your buying a wife?
I know some people will say I am writing this only because I am a man. But that’s not the case. This story has to be told, exactly as it happened to us in King Mswati’s land. If I don’t write this piece, I wouldn’t have done justice to myself.
In June, my friend Patrick asked me and a couple of friends to escort him to Swazi-land, where he was supposed to negotiate bride price (Lobola), with his bride’s parents. We drove in a convoy of twelve cars. Patrick a businessman in Johannesburg wanted to show his social status to the parents of his fiancée. When we arrived at the bride’s home, we were warmly welcomed. By the look of things, it seems the whole village had been invited to witness the ceremony. We were supposed to have dressed in the traditional Buganda culture, but Patrick thought otherwise and made us dress in three piece Italian suits. After being welcomed at the home, negotiations started immediately. ‘‘I want 30 cows; my daughter is a medical Doctor. I have invested a lot of money in her.’’ The father of the bride put forward his demand. I looked at Patrick and saw his eyes popping out. Does bride price or Lobola mean a bride is for sale? I quietly asked myself as the negotiations went on. Finally the two parties agreed on 20 cows or R50, 000 cash. Patrick pulled out R.40, 000 and promised to bring the remaining cash, when he visits again. Minutes later, a beautiful bride was officially handed over to Patrick. Traditional songs were performed. People danced, although to me it somewhat appeared commercialised. As people danced and rejoiced, I wondered if bride price was meant to bring families together or it’s a commercialised practice aimed at enriching one side. In most cultures bride price was given voluntarily to the brides family as a sign of appreciation for the girls up bringing, but now days it seems the practice has been over commercialised.
Do you think paying bride price; makes a woman feel like a commodity in a relationship? Does it make a woman loose her self esteem in a relationship? Would I be right to claim that some women are forced to stay in abusive relationships simply because their parents can not afford to refund the cows, they took from the groom’s family? Is it really worthy paying bride price/Lobola?
Feel free to comment.