A study by Professor Dori Posel and Dr Stephanie Rudwick of the University of KwaZulu-Natal has found that lobola has contributed to the decline of marriages in South Africa.
In an interview with Eusebius McKaiser, Rudwick said the aim of the study was to find out what function lobola had in society and to explore the origins of lobola. They also studied the attitude among the Zulu people – how they feel about the practice and why they support it.
They found that lobola was important to people, as they thought it was there to create a bond between two families. However, the study also found that some poor families who struggled to raise their daughters saw lobola as a “pay back” and being rewarded for raising her, making things a bit difficult for men to afford the bride price.
“The commercialisation of the custom and poverty contributed to people finding it difficult to get married, with most young men finding it difficult to come up with the amount that has been asked of them,” said Rudwick.
The other challenge was that most Zulu people did not consider people married unless they had gone through the practice of lobola.
However, cultural expert Masilo Lamla said the practice of lobola was not about attaching a price to the bride, further expressing his dislike for the word ‘pay’ because it made it sound like lobola was about buying a woman.
“Lobola involves cattle, under strictly traditional practice. And cattle among the Nguni people in particular is of major significance in the economic, social and religious spheres,” he said.
Some callers said the practice should be done away with, as it now looked more like the blesser-blessee lifestyle instead of serving the function it was initially intended for. Some said some men were just running away from their responsibilities. “If you love her you will climb mountains for her,” they said.
What are your thoughts?
Listen to the full interview below: