Lobola nightmare in the UK

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THROUGHOUT Africa, a marriage could not take place without some form of gift or ‘payment’ in the form of animals, food or other material goods to the parents and family of the bride.
Today people refer to this exercise as payment of ‘dowry’.
Technically this is not dowry, but ‘bride-price’, ‘bride-gift’, ‘bride-worth’ and the most commonly used word is lobola.
According to the English usage, ‘dowry’ is the gift of money, goods or both, offered by the bride or bride’s family towards establishment of her household, whereas a bride-price is a marriage payment made by a prospective husband or more often, by his family to the family of the bride.
It is to be remarked that the bride-price does not mean a business deal, because there is no purchasing or trade involved, but a simple exchange of gifts.
It is a token of gratitude on the part of the bridegroom’s people to those of the bride for their care over her and for allowing her to become his wife.
Lobola is a demonstration of how much the girl is valued by both sides.
It denotes respectability, worthiness and appreciation.
As a valued person at marriage, she is not stolen but given away under mutual agreement between the two families.
The gift elevates the value attached to her both as a person and as a wife.
At her home, the marriage gift replaces her or it can be taken as an economic compensation, reminding the family that she will leave or she has left and yet she is not dead.
It is verification in concrete terms that families have agreed to the marriage of the son and daughter.
Lobola is a sign of approval of marriage by the families.
Traditionally, if lobola was not paid, it showed that the family did not approve of the marriage.
Being abroad has changed this approach to marriage; the paying of lobola.
Lobola here is viewed as human selling. 
Having to let your child go, in marriage, in the UK is a nightmare.
One family came up with their bride price list.
But the family of the son-in-law, who were white, did not understand the tradition.
They would have none of it; went to the police and reported human slavery saying their future in-laws were selling their daughter as a slave to them.
They did not want to be part of the deal.
The marriage was over.
A few days later, the girl eloped with the guy.
Not a penny was paid to the family.
Another family were shocked when the son-in-law asked to pay lobola by credit card.
One would find it strange but maybe with the cash problem back home people are now paying by Ecocash. 
Having a discussion with my daughters was depressing.
They all feel lobola is an old tradition which is meant to undermine girls and make them submit before their husbands.
This thinking is obnoxious to us, the parents.
It hits hard below the belt. 
“My daughter is comfortable staying with a man who has not paid a penny. She even refers to the man as my mukuwasha,” said Muhwati of Wales.
Lobola has lost meaning — so has the institution of marriage.
The practice of paying lobola has been a casualty in the UK.
What the Britons and our children who have grown up here do not appreciate is that lobola starts the process of marriage.
It is not only an expression of honour to the parents, but also an undertaking of responsibility to the spouse.
But our children and the prospective husbands find lobola an evil practice which is meant to lower their dignity.
But to us, the paying of lobola shows commitment on the part of the bridegroom and it is a serious demonstration of the love of the man for the woman – love not just in words, but also in deeds.
This is not the way it is viewed now.
And it hurts us.
We have put our children in a culture where people will proudly tell you that: ‘This is my third marriage’ if not the 10th.
We find this repulsive but it is very normal to our hosts.
This is the society in which our children are growing.
Now, some families are just letting their children wed without a penny paid and deep down they are hurt.
A family in Leicester had all their daughters taken into social services because they were said to have ‘sold’ their eldest daughter to a Scottish family.
Explanations that lobola is a public acknowledgement that the marriage is genuine, a process to ensure that the husband and wife do not easily separate and divorce fell on deaf ears.
In the Diaspora, marriages are for the weekend and people are surprised at marriages that last 30 years.
In many communities, the more the woman is educated, the more the prospective husband is expected to pay.
But in the UK, only the ‘lucky’ families get lobola.
The concept of lobola has been surely misunderstood in the UK.
Currently, very few Zimbabweans are lucky to have their children married.
These are the pains of bringing up our children in strange lands.
Our children here, when we bring up the lobola issues, would refer to it as a practice by ‘your’ people in Zimbabwe; it is sad and maddening.
They have distanced themselves from their culture.
Expecting a bride price from our children abroad is like hoping it would snow in Harare.
For views and comments, email:
VAZET2000@yahoo.co.uk

1 COMMENT

  1. By the time the children are at the stage to receive or pay lobola… you as the parent should have made them understand its value

    Kwete kuchema kuti atiza mukumbo imi musina kana kumbotaura naye zuva rimwe kuti roora chiitiko chakakosha…. and just so that i am clear… kuudza munhu versus kuita kuti anzwisise are two different things…

    In my opinion, nhau yekukosha kweroora inoda kutaurwa mwana asati atombova nemukomana in the first place… because mukatanga avanaye, mukwasha only sees it as though you ars trapping him… but if your daughter knows before hand, she will raise the subject herself

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