Lobola negotiations fall under the spotlight
WHILE modernisation threatens to eradicate our culture, and sometimes succeeds, one thing most Africans have managed to preserve is the issue of lobola. In Africa, especially the southern parts, when two people marry, certain procedures should take place and lobola is one of them.
Apparently in the old days when people used to marry, lobola was just a token of appreciation that a man would pay to woman’s family so that he could have their daughter as a wife. This token could be anything from a hoe to a single goat or cow depending on the agreement between the involved parties. The old Shona culture once had a lobola option called kutema ugariri, where a poor man would declare his intention to marry a given woman but also state his inability to afford her. So the father of the bride-to-be would ask the man to work for his bride, and the lovestruck man would spend years working in his would-be father-in-law’s fields.
In other cultures up north, a man could simply grab a woman in broad daylight and run off with her, claiming her as his. He would then send and emissary to the woman’s family to ask what they wanted as lobola. It was very acceptable.
However, it’s 2014 and a lot has changed since then. We have people trying to stay in touch with their roots but some of the practices, like the kidnapping one, have all been discarded. Yet the issue of lobola is still alive. In some cases, when men father daughters and sulk over the fact that their name will not be carried further, the consolation is usually the money those daughters will make for them once they are married off. If you look at what fathers are charging today when it comes to lobola, you can see why these fathers are smiling. In South Africa, there have been cases where people have demanded hundreds of thousands of rands to release one daughter into marriage.
This is what OpenView HD’s eKasi+ will be looking at on Mahadi: Lobola, a South African reality series that takes a close look at the ancient and respected tradition of lobola. Coming to you in January, the show zooms in on what it means to be African through the age-old practice of lobola. The producers are looking for people who would not mind to have their lobola negotiations aired on TV so that South Africans might learn a thing or two about the subject.
“The series showcases our indigenous heritage and cultural diversity. Shows of this nature are multi-faceted in that they are also educational. The concept of mahadi has always been a closely-kept secret known primarily to those who have been part of the negotiations. With a more curious and slightly detached younger generation, a show like this serves as an insightful production,” enthused Monde Twala, MD for e.tv Channels Division.
With the success of Mzansi Magic’s Our Perfect Wedding or Our Perfect Proposal, it’s no surprise that e.tv has bitten into this subject, and lobola is definitely going to be hit.
It should also open up debate on whether we should still follow this practice and if people are doing it for profit.
Women who are “paid for” should also be given a voice to express how they feel about these transactions. Kudos to e.tv for grabbing this one. If you want to be part of the
series, contact 011 285 6061; Facebook: MAHADILobolaTV; Twitter: #MahadiLobolaTV or e-mail: michelled@ urbanbrew.co.za.