Lobola - a custom involving the provision of marriage payments in cattle or cash, from the groom’s family to the parents of the bride a beautiful tradition that unites two families.
Our traditions are different and mine doesn't allow for me to get an engagement ring until a letter of intent for Lobola has been sent to my Father and he has accepted, so you can understand how there's no- on bended knee surprises, but rather a beautiful process where i get to meet my grooms uncles so they know who they are actually negotiating for.
So it may not be the westernised version of a fairytale proposal but my African fairytale. I love my culture and the traditions that come with it, without fail you get to tell your own truly african love story, so how does it start?
All with a letter, this is delivered to the bride to be's father from her husband to be's family for Lobola negotiations this tradition is so beautiful it made me realise how beautiful this is, it inspires a man to work hard to be privileged to get a wife. And undoubtedly shows the first signs that a man will be able to provide for his new bride to be. My favourite part of this is how unites families by creating dialogue of how worthy the bride is for the man to value her in their union... So I finally get it, it's a necessary part of our culture.
So I found it it fit to take you through my beautiful journey from every the very beginning. Not everything will be posted timely as a lot will be private moments between the families. But I would love to give insights and a peak into my fabulous authentically South African wedding, every step of the way because our cultures should be celebrated and should be seen from a real view and not just another assumption.
While many critics are wary of the practice, lobola does serve a number of purposes. At its core is the idea of forming a bond between two families, through the exchange of gifts. The process of loboloa also introduces the idea of the marriage to the families’ ancestors and shows the respect that the bride’s family have for the young woman. In practical terms the payment of lobola proves that a man will be able to provide for his family, and discourages divorce; in theory a husband would be more willing to try to sort things out if something of monetary value has been exchanged, as would the wife and her family. The lobola negotiation also shows that families have agreed to the marriage of the son and daughter – it is a sign of approval of marriage by the families. Traditionally if lobola was not paid it showed that the families did not approve of the marriage.
Lobola negotiations always take place at the family home of the bride. When the groom’s delegates arrive at the bride’s house they will stand outside the gate and introduce themselves by shouting out their clan names. The bride’s family will remain in the yard, pretending to not hear anything. When the bride’s family thinks that they have shouted enough, they will send a young boy to attend to them at the gate. The groom’s family must pay money in order to enter the gate, and are then shown where to sit. During this process, the groom’s family does all the talking; imvulamlomo must be paid to the bride’s family for them to start talking.
Generally speaking it is the groom’s male relatives who do the negotiations – the groom is not present. An idombo is chosen to represent the interests of the groom. The elected spokesperson for the bride’s family tells the idombo what is required for the dowry. If the price is considered too high, the women will go outside to speak to the bride’s mother to try to get her to convince her husband to agree to a more reasonable price – the mother is not allowed inside the room where the negotiations are taking place – if she enters the room a fine must be paid.
Lobola negotiations typically start at ten cows, and then move up or down depending on a number of things. For example, the status of the bride’s family might mean that more cows are asked for, or if the bride has children out of wedlock, the number of cows will reduce. Once a price in cows has been agreed on preparations for the wedding can begin.
I wouldn't want to do this in any other way, nor would I exchange this first process for a ring first.