Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Lobola: The fears of a single guy

Seeing that I'm already in my mid 20s, I'm more and more flirting with the idea that someday I will be married (and hopefully get divorced). Now that's a bit funny cause I used to tell myself that I could do without the hassles of marriage. I could actually, so I thought, do without the hassles of a "formal" relationship. But hey, being where I am now, I think differently, I now need companionship. Now that brings me to my biggest problem.

My biggest problem is not to find the right woman. No. The biggest problem is to find the right in-laws! There is in Southern Africa, something called Lobola, in shona its called roora, and dowry is the English term (I think). I still struggle understanding why I should pay a gazillion of dollars so that I can take home a wife. To me, that equates to buying a wife. I should then be able to say in one phrase, 'I bought this house last year, but that car I bought it soon after I bought a wife...'

I still think that lobola and human rights are not totally compartible. I also feel that if someone looks carefully, some abuse to women out there in those houses, is as a result of the fact that they came at a price. I'd think that women would be the ones fighting against this lobola thing more than men. But hell No! Even the most educated ones you find them
saying "you think ndinoenda mahara?", which is "you think I can just go for free?" Now that mind boggles me big time. But then maybe to look at it objectively, I need to calm down a bit.

Lobola is supposed to be a token of appreciation. The way I understand it, I, the man, would be saying to my in-laws, thank you for raising up such a wonderful woman. Now if that's what its supposed to be, I then expect it to be reasonable. Its part of a culture I'd not mind
preserving if everything is put into the context of today. I think if my wife came at a huge fee, it distorts the balance that should exist in today's marriage. I want to be 'equal' to my partner, and I will find it difficult if I had to pay through the nose for it.

I sometimes think that culturally from way back, girls have always been treated as household property. I mean, from the point they know how to balance a bucket of water on their heads, or a bunch of firewood sticks, they become an asset. They clean the house, cook the food,
grind what needs grinding and wash everything that needs washing. So looking at it that way, if you then decide to marry that woman, you need to keep note of two things:

  1. You are taking away the family asset.
  2. You are getting yourself the asset!

So you have to pay for both. And pay dearly. Then what if we now say, treating women as assets is wrong, doesn't it also make wrong traditions that are associated with it? And these days with so much divorce going on, you will think thrice before considering re-marrying,
for it does not matter how many times you've been married before, you still pay.

But hey that's me. Others feel different about it. Next time, when I get time to blog, I'll tell you exactly what goes on in a typical lobola session. But for now, should christians pay lobola?

i am manulite.