Friday, July 25, 2008


This is well worth a read - on the custom of 'lobola' in Zimbabwe. Echoes of bride wealth traditions elsewhere on the continent, and the perennial question of tradition vs modernity.


Kody 5:49 am  

Funnily enough, my friends and I were discussing this last night; one of us is getting married and she has decided to keep her name (in agreement with her fiancee) but is sentimental about performing the traditional Nigerian introduction and engagement ceremonies where her man will provide a long list of goods and money in exchange for her hand. We were arguing why she does not just do away with it all, and why even get married and no cohabit.

The whole issue of bride price is increasing out of place in modern life yet many of us, who are of the generation that will make or break the practice, are undecided about what to make of it. The same can be said of the practice of prostrating/bowing to elders and performing birth or death rites.
The confusion is essentially because they are practices we have grown up around, and to eradicate it would be to deny our culture.
There are so many aspects of non-African living that Africans are scared of, and have no desire to emulate because we perceive them as the other extreme - isolation from family, lack of respect from children, lack of respect or care for elders, casual and whimsical attitude towards marriage commitments and so on.

I read an article, recently, either in the Times or Guardian (UK) which talked about how women's equality has become so entrenched in the West that it is starting to work against women themselves - particularly mothers, who find it hard to reconcile the roles as working women and mothers.

I am still undecided about the place of cultural ceremonies like Lobola in modern life. I had a traditional engagementceremony before my registry wedding. I didn't take any of the symbolism seriously or pay any real attention to be honest, neither did my husband. We just saw it as a good reason to party.

Anonymous,  8:21 am  

If we see this for what it is, it is an exchange between and among men, masquarading as exchange between families. It is simple, women's bodies and life are montised and reduced to exchange value. Anyone that now want to think that African women does not subordinate should reflect for a moment the meaning of these rituals. But it is weird that it is women are wanting to hold onto this tradition.

It is also strange that women are so quick to want to take on their husbands name, when it is really not part of culture, but a colonial imposition. But many are so ignorant about this that they don't even know anymore what is imported and what is there own.

We should just do away with these rituals and traditions. Lets remember, all traditions are invented and we can invent new ones that will suit contemporary situation.

Controversial Anon 10:08 am  

Who are 'we'?

If you feel that you need to do something then do it. If you feel that you do not need to do something then do not.

I can't understand this idea of 'we', it's up to you to change or not change your name, it's up to you to get or not get married, and as an adult it's up to you to do anything you want. I don't see where 'we' come in.

Soyinka did not consult with his community before he ditched Christianity, neither did Achebe. It's all very well talking rebellious, but doing it really is up to you, so do it I say. Do it.

For those who are too young to protest or make up their own minds - tough.

Kody 10:47 am  

Controversial anon, often you just say things for the sake of saying them...which I guess, is your raison d'etre.

'We', is an indication that one is part of a collective obviously. Unless of course you are living on a desert with you and yourself alone.

It is out of this collective that cultures, traditions, and rules (good and bad) emanate. So the idea of doing something if you want to do it etc is not always possible. You can't just decide to go and shoot people, go into a store and pick food without paying, or start shouting 'Don't panic, I am islamic' on an aeroplane, and not expect people to have a say in what you do.

Going back to the issue of culture, marriage and bride price. The whole point of entering into a union is a validation of the word 'we' otherwise, why bother with marriage?

Controversial Anon 11:46 am  

@ Kody

It's seems you are in the wrong business.

Yes you can decide to go about shooting people. Yes you can go into a shop and pick up food without paying, and Yes you can shout whatever it is you want to shout on board whatever airplane. It's up to you, you do it, and you live with the consequences.

If you haven't got the will to move in with your boyfriend without getting married to him because you are scared of what people will say then why bother advising others? If you do not want a bride price paid on your head, then find someone who feels the same way or do not get married, it is, after all, up to you. If you are part of a 'collective' but feel so strongly about stopping the practices of this collective and yet have not got the will to do what you think is right then it means you are saddled with a flaw.

The Nazis were a 'collective', slave traders were a 'collective', Apartheid regime were a 'collective', the PDP is a 'collective', the attribute lies in your own will, your ability to think and act independently for what you believe is right.

Do it.

Put up, or ...

Kody 1:42 pm  

Evidently you don't get it so I will do as you advice and save my energy!!!

anonymaus,  9:18 am  

This truly was a nice article and was worth reading. One has to decide what they rituals and traditions they will follow and what will be left behind, and their consequences.

Question, (which more than likely as not will not get an answer), do people from Western Europe and America face such dilemmas? For those from a non-European/American background, these decisions seem much more fraught.

Anonymous,  5:35 pm  

Con Anon, you just don't get it do you!

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