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.

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