Fast For­ward

Finweek English Edition - - INSIGHT - Kris­tia van Heer­den

than the mean monthly earn­ings of African men sug­gests that eco­nomic sta­tus may be par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant in iden­ti­fy­ing the mar­riage­able pool of African men.”

Be­tween 2010 and 2011, there has been a 49.1% de­cline in cus­tom­ary mar­riages in South Africa, which can be at­trib­uted to the lack of eco­nom­i­cally vi­able African men. By con­trast, “there is only weak ev­i­dence to link the mar­riage­abil­ity of white men ac­cord­ing to their eco­nomic sta­tus to the prob­a­bil­ity of mar­riage among young white women.”

“In South Africa to­day, African adults are far less likely to be mar­ried than they are to be un­mar­ried. In con­trast, the ma­jor­ity of white adults in the same age co­hort are mar­ried,” they say.

“A dis­tin­guish­ing char­ac­ter­is­tic of African mar­riages – the cus­tom of ilobolo, and in par­tic­u­lar the way this cus­tom is cur­rently prac­ticed – may be an im­por­tant ex­pla­na­tion for th­ese racial dif­fer­ences in mar­riage rates.”

They ar­gue that the com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion of the prac­tice of lobola, where cash is paid to the bride’s fam­ily in a lump sum be­fore the wed­ding, in­stead of the tra­di­tional pay­ment of cows, could also play a role.

“I l obolo i s widely sup­ported and re­spected as a cus­tom, but high ilobolo pay­ments, in a ad­di­tion to the other costs as­so­ci­ated with a wed­ding, mean that mar­riage is not an af­ford­able op­tion for many African cou­ple cou­ples.”

How­ever, t the steady de­cline in mar­riage does not mean that we are a love­less na­tion, with many ma young cou­ples choos­ing co­hab­i­ta­tion (k (known as vat en sit in some African cul­ture cul­tures) over mar­riage as a more af­ford­able way to love.

South African Afric grooms have to work much harder to be mar­riage ma­te­rial, but at least we wan want them when they are. Per­haps their Ame Amer­i­can coun­ter­parts should

turn their at­ten­tion atte to our shores. * Ilobolo Ilob is the Zulu term for this cust cus­tom. The an­gli­cised form is “lob “lobola”.

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