Is it time to abolish lobola?

I find a serious disconnect between our modern-day and constantly-evolving notions of gender equality, and the archaic tradition of lobola.

These days, and feel free to correct me, women expect to walk into marriage on an equal footing, minus the age-old customs and behavioural norms of our parents and our parents’ parents.

I have heard it said that some ladies are loath to cook, clean or look after their husbands. There’s a maid for that. I even hear some women expect their husbands to do an equal share of housework, as if equitable chore distribution is an indicator of a perfect power balance.

I have even heard a couple of unmarried sisters vowing that they won’t be nobody’s maid thank you *snap-snap-snap* and getting married isn’t slavery.

Okay. Let’s talk about this, then.

You say you want to abandon the traditional marital setup, with the man as the head of the house in all things, and the woman responsible for the household upkeep and all relevant issues like food, clothing and cleaning.

If that’s the case, why not abandon all the traditions? Why does the man have to pay a bride price for you? If it’s not slavery, and since you’re 100% equal, why accept to be sold off like a cow at market?

If the thought of ironing your man’s shirt and making him breakfast before he (and indeed, you) go to work offends your feminist sensibilities, doesn’t the thought of being PAID FOR offend you even more?

How do you reconcile the two, sister? Riddle me that.

See, I believe this current MTV generation of Destiny’s Children and pizza-fed Kardashianites find the IDEA of cooking and cleaning and picking up after a man repulsive.

Look, if I’m going to pay however-many-thousands of dollars to your pops, I’m not gonna iron my own shirt or make my own breakfast or sweep the rug or change any goddamned diapers.

If I’m paying lobola I’m paying for a wife. And a wife in the traditional sense, even though I won’t treat her the way the oldies did, but if I do the traditional, respectful thing as a husband, I expect my wife to respect me that way.

So here’s the big question, sisters. Do you think it’s right to expect a man to pay lobola for you, but wrong for him to expect wifely conduct from you?

If it’s going to be equal all the way, then I suggest scrapping the whole bride-price business, and go into it as equals, and see how that works for ya.

Cos the way some of y’all are talking, you ain’t gonna see the inside of a wedding chapel anytime soon, and if you do, you’re gonna be the type whining about how your man was so sweet before marriage but turned into a monster after. Check yourself.

Now wash my goddamn underpenny!

49 Replies to “Is it time to abolish lobola?”

  1. chick logic:

    pay my parents a shitload of money (yay for culture!),

    work your ass off and pay for me and my children’s welfare – because you are The Man (yay for chivalry!),

    i will not lift a finger for you – you must work harder still and employ someone else to look after YOUR welfare (yay for gender equality!),

    question this logic and the convenient rationalizations = you are a woman-hating uncultured prick.

  2. Lucky for me, I don’t care what anyone may think of me. Also, if I’m to be stereo-typed, it’s okay, cos that just shows how narrow-minded the “boxer” is.

    The thing is, these are issues which require discussion, because the rate at which our societal norms are evolving, some ppl are in for some nasty shocks at these transactional gatherings!

  3. [This comment has been deleted, because instead of dealing with the issue at hand, you decided to attack me personally. For the record, you can argue my opinions, but never my personal life, my loved ones or their opinions of my blog and what I write here.

    Yes, it’s a dictatorship. So Tara, try again.]

  4. my question is: those chicks bleating about not picking up and ironing and cooking, vari mudzimba here? Coz if you are not, then it’s just best you keep your mouth shut or wrap it round your man’s dick (though that too might be found distasteful). I am not taking feminist liberal shit from a chick stuck in Zim who has never left the country for more than a shopping trip to SA or Dubai. That is just horse manure. Chero vari muma first world countries, without the dowry or lobola, vano mhanya mhanya because munhu ne munhu arikuziva position yake.

  5. Awwww, Malema’s been fired and suspended (okay, that doesn’t make any sense. You’re either sort of in or out, right?! Not both!) having been found guilty of having brought the party to disrepute. Interesting that it took them so long to realise the guy’s a moron. Wonder what they offer up next. Hope he is just as entertaining!

  6. I feel sorry for men sometimes. Truly I do especially if you are a man with traditional values living in modern times. I hear you loud and clear JB because so many of my mates are exactly the type of chick you have described. I dont see a solution to this issue because with so many people living in the diaspora and becoming “exposed/enlightened” our culture is dwindling and so too are those old fashioned values. If its any consolation chicks find it just as hard to find a man who wants to man up and act like a HUSBAND in every sense of the word. So in the words od Tuku “Todii?”

  7. Chakapfukidza dzimba matenga vanhu vamwari! I think this has more to do with men wanting to have a position…I wouldn’t mind if they stayed true to the cook/cleaner but instead they head to the small house who doesn’t cook/clean because her manicured nails would break.

  8. Come on! Again, with that word ‘respect’. Is that the only manifestation of respect from a wife to a husband?

    On culture dwindling, should we really be cultural for the sake of being cultural? Even when it is pointless, or even detrimental? Nature has it that the environment will always change, and anything that can’t keep up, by adapting or evolving, will not survive. It’s biology. The world is changing, and we must all change with it to get by. Culture is only as relevant as the time it exists. It must change with whatever is happening in its environment. Culture is just spin on the way of doing things by a subset of a population. Tradition is just when said spin persists, in spite of everything else, usually because it suits someone, usually men, to have things a certain way, usually to the detriment of the women. I think!

    Obviously, I am not a fan of mass tradition. The traditions I follow are those I have had an involvement in shaping. Like I cook the Xmas dinner every year. Or that my sister can make her blini canapes for Xmas brunch, even though we all really hate those damn tiny fish eggs.

    Culturewise, that’s a bit fluid, depends on my mood. Varies between being black, British, Zimbabwean, human, that sort of thing.

    I could write a book about this whole thing. Albeit a short dull, badly written one, but a book nonetheless. I just really being limited feeling restricted by rules I had nothing to do with shaping, particularly when I know something better for me, and usually that doesn’t harm anyone. Life’s too short!

  9. Yes, that word respect. It features heavily in my opinions. Obviously not yours, but that’s your problem, not mine.

    So to be frank here. Where are you on the lobola thing? Because you’ve had no hand in shaping that culture or traditions – you seem to believe it’s okay.

    So SOME traditions are okay to you, not others?

    I’ll be clear here. If you want a Shona (dare I say Zimbo) husband, and you come with a New Age attitude Equal Rights Blah Blah *snap-snap-snap* AND ask him to pay for your moderna ss, you won’t win.

    You. Won’t. Win.

  10. LOL, blah snap.

    To be clear, the whole Lobola thing is generally absurd. Also kinda non sense making. Imagine the return on that investment, from the bride’s father’s point of view. And we obviously the transactioness of it all implies women are property.

    Yes, some traditions are okay. Like serving guests first. Or respecting your elders, sometimes. Traditional inheritance laws suck. As does the woman’s family pays for the wedding. Tradition generally sucks when it has a gendered nature. Just because something is tradition, dont make it a good thing.

    However, I cam see how Lobola could acceptable, with the bride chipping in for it, if her family is so precious about it. Sharing the load. Would definitely take the edge of the potential imbalance of power in the relationship.

    On respect, I am not saying that a woman should not respect a man, or (and?) vice versa. Respect is essential, obviously. However, why must respect be limited to being expressed in the old ways, which I think focusses on the traditional roles of women and men. Why can’t I be respected for being me, for being an individual, and not the quality or standard to which I meet the old gender roles. I want to know that someone wants to spend the rest of his life with ME because there is noone else like me, and loves me how I am, and not how some person from the old times though I should be, because of that extra X chromosome. I will love and respect that person for who they are, and not limited to what they could do for me under the old rules, provide for me and my sprogs, etc.

    Damn, I can’t do this topic any justice.

    Anyhoo, not planning on getting married. Yes, another one of those pesky traditions I don’t like. Particularly hate that I’d have to fork out uddles of money to get people celebrating MY big thing with free bar. They should be paying for it for me! Besides, I’d hate to feel trapped.

  11. Your traditions r all mixed up, with African stuff n Western stuff. Brides family paying for wedding?

    Maybe decide first which is your culture then work from there.

  12. My point is that I choose to pick and mix, changing my mind, depending on my mood and what’s most convenient for me, and does not harm anyone else, for the most part. I guess that may make me cultureless. Would that really be a bad thing?

  13. “Culture is just spin on the way of doing things by a subset of a population. Tradition is just when said spin persists, in spite of everything else, usually because it suits someone …”

    bravo Tara. i left out the rest of this sentence because it fucks up a brilliant point.

  14. I OPPOSE the concept of lobola. Sorry if I haven’t been clear about that. All I was saying was, if it has to happen (not an option with me), there may be a way to make it workable.

    Seriously Awesome, you’ve got to admit, tradition usually has winners and losers, and women tend to get the raw end of the deal. So where you been? We back to being Mossy again?! Makes it hard for a girl to keep up. gOD, I hope Mos and Awesome are the same person. Otherwise, AWKWARD!

  15. same ninja boo 🙂

    i dont know Tara, some african traditions and customs (inheritance, polygamy …) usually favour men, but of course roora (fuck lobola, we zimbos) rips a huge one in every ninja’s ass AND then the girls get to lay back in the cut, looking pretty and shit, being kept, while the ninja works his ass to the bone to feed that woman and the kids …

    western shit totally favours the woman – that puny ninja paying alimony out his ears, charlie’s brother in 2 1/2 Men, that shit real – i know plenty ninjas dying a slow death that way …

  16. What, women pay alimony too. Why you think Britney’s people were shitting bricks after that short lived marrige. All those prenups. Only reason why men APPEAR to suffer more is because of the pay gap (you know about that, no?). If women were equal to men paywise, we’d be even. Oh, I just love you quoting 2 1/2 men as case study in this serious arguement. I think it’s just soooo cute. I could just eat you up. 🙂

    And on the roora front, it may look like the woman has it good in that one, but once the marrige is underway, shit can turn ugly, with the bloke feeling all entitled and shit. Read the original post. Women being objectified, like some piece of property. I paid for you, so I can do or get – no, take – whayever I want with/from you. Say it ain’t so.

  17. its a two-way street, you doll your ass up, wiggle your ass for ninja to pursue you, bat your fake eye-lashes to signal go, and you say WE objectify?

    Men pursue objects, we do not create objects and then pursue them.

    How many women pay alimony? Britney and … ? I can give you reams and reams and reams of men who pay child AND ex-wife maintenance. Tight friend of mine’s dad bought houses for two ex-wives and looks after 5 kids – chisi, johns, rhodes …

    If women did not objectify THEMSELVES and instead got up their asses and worked and shit – to support themselves and their children (fuck the father) – and put aside their pussy game and also pursued men they found attractive – then men would find it quite impossible to objectify and treat women as property.

    There is a symbiotic sickness in those marriages/relationships in which the women is mistreated as property n shit and the man just works and provides. Them folk KNOW why they staying in those relationships – and they’ll hide behind “the kids”, “culture”, “family honour” andall that convenient shit.

    p.s. 2 1/2 Men (with charlie sheen – fuck ashton) is the shit bro!

  18. Aren’t sitcoms past their useby date already?! Shocks the hell out of me that there are commedy shows still being made and watched that have people laughing in the background.

    Sigh! We really still in that ‘the man is the breadwinner’ era. Women aren’t as independant as I thought?! Maybe my up bringing was extraordinary. My folks never got married (dad already had a wife and kids) and the only time he forked money out was in emergencies, whenever the whole school fees travesty reared its ugly head. Otherwise, my mother had it all covered. So I guess that is why I find it impossible to understand how you lot are so adament about how things are. That the division of labour is so distinct, men provide, woman serves. Eish!

  19. lol@sitcoms

    but thats it right there Tara, you’re using your particular circumstance as a filter to view eery woman-man relationship.
    while on this, i also call bullshit on “independent women”. i’ve ‘encountered’ enough of them to conclude that GENERALLY, they are independent only UNTIL they get a man. “independence” is simply a marketing tool, along with, “Im pretty, Im schooled, I can blow you and remove my weave at the same time, …” used to prop up her ‘object value’ and demand perfection.
    i have not met an “independent” woman who would not ditch the charade and swiftly and willingly get bare-foot and pregnant the moment a ninja she felt worthy stepped up … and thats the truff right there.

  20. Gimme 30 Rock, Arrested Development and Curb Your Enthusiusm anyday.

    Just had a Zimbo friend stay over and explain a few things about the reality of life in Zimbabwe. Some shocking things. But I maintain that things don’t gotta be how they are. She is a single mother of 2 teenagers. She ain’t never been married, is a feminist who is director of some NGO. Sounds like she living a good life, in spite of having lost a sister to domestic violence and another sister kicked to the curb by her hubby.

    Anyway, she was explaining that roora is nothing more than payment for a woman’s uterus. That what is being paid for is the services said uterus will provide, i.e. the continuation of the male line. So based on this, you aint even paying for a domestic servant, just someone who can bear sons.

    So tell me Awesome, are you even looking for the truly independant woman? If she did exist, would you prefer her to the other woman?

  21. Two things – I don’t know where she got the notion about roora buying a uterus, but hey, I guess she’s free to think whatever she wants.

    Secondly … if this is how she thinks, I’m not surprised she’s not married. And yes, of course, it’s ‘her choice’ to be a single mother.


  22. had dealings with a single feminist, heads up some media NGO here, 33yrs old, never married, has a child (about a year old) by a boy 8 years younger who she doesnt want to have anything to do with her child. she’s on the “i dont need a man, just his seed” tip.
    she’s not the only feminist/independent/cantbagaman woman i know who feels this way about a man’s place in her life – maybe – just maybe – she (and your feminist) project their feelings about men onto the the whole male perspective on a woman’s role to men, coz i’ve never heard a man refer to a woman they want to marry as a rent-a-uterus.

    oh, p.s. all these over 30 single, dont need a man, women i know have all been jilted or hurt terribly by some bloke. “We dated for 8 years, the best years of my life, then he just upped and married some 19-year-old floozy”. jussayin …

    im not looking.

    but i do entertain women i find attractive.

  23. I agree with the notion of eliminating lobola. Allow me to say that it is one of the reasons why many women are treated like doormats and also the number one reason y Zim has a very high HIV/AIDS prevalence rate among women. Some women get into these relationships for all sorts and especially economic reasons, when they become dependent on their husbands they find it challenging to question him and in many cases aren’t involved in the decision making process. They just have to put up with it. On the other hand there are women who want equity, equality u name it forgetting that in society regardless of where u r women are domesticated. CEO’s, managers etc still have to perform domestic duties before and after work. In the first world women stop going to work when they have kids coz they have to spend more time with the kids raising them. Their husbands only take 5 weeks off if they wish. Lets not get too excited with this idea of gender equality mind you it means different things to different people. While some want the husband to wash dishes etc some just want to be acknowledged.

  24. whilst i understand where you are coming from i think accusing women for losing their cultural values as it may is a bit too much. Zim man have become lazy, you marry a well educated woman who has a good job or her own biz….. you both leave the house around 7:30 in the morning and come back around 6 in the evening and you go straight to the couch reach for the remote control and watch some t.v…yet you expect the lady to go straight to the kitchen,wash the dishes,cook you dinner, wash and iron your clothes, feed the kids and help them with homework……….as if if she is made of metal and not flesh and blood. bloody hell i work an 8 to 6 job just like you if you are tired after a hard day’s work what makes you think i’m not? Nowadays you men actually expect your women to work or do some thing to earn some money on the side, unonzwa murume anemukadzi anogara kumba “instead of you waiting for me to give you money all the time, tsvanga zvekuitawo zviri kuitwa nevamwe vakadzi.” The thing is nowadays women work, heck even bring home more money than your sorry asses..mota dzirikuitiswa chihure ne most guys dzakatengwa nemari yemudzimai…..dzimba dzatakurira nemari dzakaendesa most of usnkuchikoro ndedzana amai vaiiruka madoiri …if paycheck isnt able to cover all the bills and you expect me to work to cover your back stop telling me about this culture bullshit. You want my respect earn it….if you are able to take care of me,even just the basic zvavo, pay the rent,the electricity bill,the water and gas bill…if you can afford to buy that LED t.v screen that you like on your own, if you can buy the house groceries, buy mine and your clothes…if you can do this on your own without my goddamn help then bloody hell i’ll wash,cook and iron for you…i’ll even spoon feed you. if not and you wait for me to bring my paycheck to the table @ the end of the month,shut up and change that diaper whilst i cook.

  25. Right. I’m glad you made your point.

    So there are other options. If you want this to be all EQUAL and shit, fine.

    1) Pay 50% of the roora. Because if I’m paying for your ass, then sorry, HAKUNA EQUAL RIGHTS. That’s not difficult to understand, I’m sure.

    2) If you WANT to be bought, fine. Let’s go the whole hog. Virginity test, too. We’re being all cultural and traditional right? Why go halfway? Let’s do the whole thing. Your aunties charge me, my aunties probe you.

    See, you can’t claim on ONE HAND to respect tradition, and ON THE OTHER HAND claim that times have changed. To suit you.

    That’s bullshit, doesn’t work like that. If you’re paid for, you will play your position.

  26. Have had this debate with a couple of friends over tea and believe me before we knew it we had about 10 cups each and were far from even resolving the whole thing. One thing I took from that debate though( from an elderly man, thought I should add) was that in the olden days when one paid Lobola he was paying for the kids…..not the wife! He then went on to say that is why the kids get the man’s surname and hence keep your bloodline alive. Say then the man decides to leave the wife……then kids remained with the man’s family and the ex wife is chased away. That was the olden days, however nowadays it is highly unlikely for the father to be given custody of the kids if the man and woman decide to part….On that note he did agree that the whole thing may need to be revised as the times have changed.

  27. look JB my point is, we live in a time where some of these cultural bullshit will cause you headaches. I don’t c a problem here…if a guy wants a woman who will wash iron his shirt and treat him like God’s gift to the world,he should just marry a lady who doesn’t want to work a nine to six job, who doesn’t like putting on french nails and doesn’t like eating toast….that way he wont be forced to complain. Heck she’ll wash your clothes and iron and even go kumusha kunobatsira amai vako kunorima!! But kana uchikara chirungu and because you want a woman who can hold her own u are likely to get someone who’ll use her hard earned money to buy a dishwasher and washing machine to wash the dishes and your dirty clothes…..and when she is tired she will order takeaway with her money so your lazy butt wont starve for the night. take your time dating so you get to know a person before you marry, study them to c if they have the qualities u want in a partner……..most of these guys, i’m not sure if u’re included apa, knew their women didn’t love the kitchen or washing…u want a domesticated woman for a wife yet you date a woman who is a workaholic and wears $50 nails and expect her to wash your work-suit…man get real, the problem is you men want your cake and u want to eat it too….sorry to tell you you cant get it both ways……u want a woman who goes to work, looks like a million dollars manicured nails and well kept hair, who is modern yet she should do your dishes and wipe the floor you walk on anokuyemedza kunge ndiAmai vako…….not possible. either she is metro-morden or she’s “cultured” choose and stop complaining……no one put a gun on your forehead and forced you to marry that woman…wakagadza vemhuri yako mukasundana kunoroora waisaziva kuti haadi kubika……..please stop trying to make excuses for laziness and unfair treatment…..male chauvanism is so back-dated its simply, whats the word you used….oh “disgusting”, keep quite and show that woman some love and respect coz it was you who chose her if you wanted a domesticated lady dai wakatuma tete Sarh vakakutvakira kwaDotito!!!!!!!!
    not hating on your opinion but when you criticize look at both sides. Hapana munhu arikumanikidzwa kuroora at least i don’t think that

  28. You’re completely missing the point here, between modern and cultured anyway.

    It is thosee SAME modern, $50 working girls who are crying for roora. Do you see?

    Who’s the one who wants it both ways? If you’re that new age high heel wearing workaholic, then you should make sure you REJECT the notion of being married with roora.

    How is this difficult to comprehend? Anyway.

  29. valuable contribution ROBBIE, and JB though i might not agree newe…i think bringing up this topic so people can discuss about it is really cool of you hey…too many times we scared to air our onw views cos they go against the views of the crowd. kuddo’s to you

  30. ah JB, Robbie explined wani even in old days roora was never about buying the woman. I believe the issue should be on telling the parents esp the fathers vanoda kupfumira pakuroorwa kwemwana……… the folks are the one’s who need to be reminded kuti LOBOLA is just a sign/token of appreciation from mukwasha to atezvara kwete kutenga mota……i’m sure most ladies will agree that when you love a guy and you know that you want him kuti aiite chiremerera kwenyu anofanira kuroora ungava babe rekumusha kana kutown and you dont expect him to bring the whole bank just pay the cows,imwe yosara irichikwereti manje vafana vako varikuda kubuda shine nekupedza yose kaone………lets just try to be fair if you in a relationship, be considerate of each others feeling and don’t expect your partner to be superwoman/man, kana tese tichishanda tese toneta, when a man and a woman truly love each other nyaya dzekubika kana kugezesa vana idzi dnt matter……..i grew up in a house where my mum didnt have a day job, vairukira vakadzi vaienda jozi madhoiri and my dad worked mon – friday but he didn’t mind helping her whilst she cooked…instead i think it created a strong bond between them coz they understood each other and were very considerate of each others feelings…….. my dad didn’t mind looking after us kids paweekend,cooking for us and reading to us…to us it didnt make him less of a man…indeed he gained respect,love and adoration from his wife and 6 kids……..and i know even now my dad can cook a mean fish better than my mom!!!!! lets encourage people to be more loving towards one another in marriage zvimwe zvotevera and always remember just like everything respect is a two way street if you respect her she in turn will respect you vice-verse.

  31. “Your aunties charge me, my aunties probe you.”

    Solid gold.

    oh btw, this entire discussion is debating one consequence – roora. The mischievous premise, which is the root of all this crap, is that which informs us that women are this mysterious creature which provides pleasure and children and must be sought after by worthy men – at a bride price amongst other qualifying endeavours. Ho hum …

    Men unfortunately do not get it – that THEY are the prize – well, not until they are 40, married to a fat doppelganger of the hot chick they married 15 years ago, have three kids of whom statistically one is not his and
    are only now coming into their economic and social prime – only then do they realize how they got the short end of the shortest stick in the smallest pile – and the fat sexless mound that’s snoring next to him is winning all the way while scratching her anus and calling out to Sisi to cater to that dude who pays the bills.

    Hoohah! 🙂

  32. Wow! I am intrigued by Theawesomebloke’s comment (short end of the shortest stick, bla bla). It is so freakin evil but ten times more hilarious! Solution = no monogamy and let’s all inter-shag and be merry.

    But Joe – the charge and probe exchange? Makes twisted sense. BUT, that means boys must stay away from unmarried females – no poking before probing. I guess your point is : if we want culture to apply, apply it fully.

    What then do you do with the reality that culture is dynamic and certainly not static, therefore some bits fall off along the way?

  33. With issues and debates like these…people should get mad when others marry outside of our nationality… (thumbs down)

  34. Darn it!! I meant shouldnt…SHOULD NOT GET MAD when Zimbabweans marry outside of out nationality. hahahahaha

  35. Yeah you’re right, they shouldn’t. You can’t impose unreasonable conditions to marry your daughters, then get surprised when men begin discarding them.

    1. But sir how silly of you to think that i was on the mens side…tisk tisk… my point was for those women who dont know how to be a wife and dont want to do anything, then they shouldnt get mad when Zimbabwean men marry outside of our nationality, and for the men who seriously think that paying lobola is the same as buying a car and using it as you please….no no no silly man…dont get mad when Zimbabwean womn marry outside of our nationality.
      Why is this up for discussion…the plot has obviously been lost..thats why…hahahahahaha, i crack myself up

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