Can I have your daughter?
WHAT IS LOBOLA?
Lobola refers to a transaction that takes place when a young couple decides to marry. The suitor sends representatives of his family to negotiate with the family of his would-be bride. The groom’s family is expected to honour the family of the bride by paying an agreed-upon amount, traditionally paid in cattle.
According to the Umsamo African Institute, lobola was a way for a father to ensure that the family his daughter is marrying into would be able to provide for her. Wealth was measured in the cattle each family owned. The acceptance of lobola is also a way to show the ancestors that the family’s kraal (representing wealth) is growing and that their house is strong.
A MODERN TAKE
These days lobola is no longer paid in cows, but in cash. Even so, many of the older traditions are still observed. Prof V.V.O Mkhize, founder of the Umsamo African Institute, explains it as follows: The f irst person who knows that
abakhongi (representatives from the groom’s family) are coming, is the mother of the propspective bride. Usually the groom’s family sends a letter to the family of the bride announcing their intention to negotiate lobola on a certain date. On the day of the negotiations, the groom’s representatives will arrive at the gate of the bride’s family early in the morning. They will express their desire
FROM LEFT: Jerry Mofokeng, Zethu Dlomo, Inkomo the cow, Eduan van Jaarsveldt and Marga van Rooy star in Fanie Fourie’s Lobola