Are women desperate for marriage or are they just giving in to pressures of the society? Recently, women have been defying gender norms, forking out money from their own pockets for their own lobolo (bride price).
In an African tradition, lobolo is property in cash or cows, which a prospective husband undertakes to give to the family of a prospective wife in consideration of a customary marriage. Lately, those gender norms have been challenged by women who feel that men were dragging their feet or did not have enough money to pay lobolo.
Perhaps the trend could be attributed to pressure that women get from the society and families to get married. Many women who commented on social network on the subject said they were keen to assist their men financially because they were not earning enough to afford lobolo. However, a sociologist views the trend differently, arguing that women might be into the trend because lobolo has been viewed like a bride price and felt that they were being bought.
Sociologist and author Shafinaaz Hassim said: “Many younger women feel ilobolo or dowry is like a bride price, where they’re being bought and sometimes that might be the reason.
“They feel better giving the money [to the groom’s family] if they can afford it and not butting heads with elders who hold onto these old customs.” The trend of women paying their own lobolo has been dimmed traditionally incorrect by cultural experts. Founder of Izimbali Zesizwe Organisation, Sylvia Manqele, strongly criticised the trend. Manqele has warned those who have practiced it that it had bad consequences.
“It is not our culture as a woman to pay lobolo for you, but I cannot rule out that people now have rights, they can do as they please.
“But if you pay your own lobolo, your husband, including the in-laws, will mock you while your own ancestors might punish you.” Cultural expert and scholar Mbuso Khoza explained that according to African tradition, lobolo involves a lot of cultural processes that cannot be bypassed.
“By paying lobolo for yourself as a woman, you are killing the whole excitement about traditional wedding. “If you did that you will be mocked and reminded that you paid lobolo for yourself. The man can turn around and claim that you are not his wife,” he said.
Khoza added: “This looks like we have taken other people’s culture and made it ours. When we distort our culture we don’t realise that we are killing our own African spirituality.”