We grew up being told that one has to pay lobola / roora if one was to be considered married. This is a tradition that spans centuries and I daresay it’s now an albatross on many young couples who want to settle down.
In Zimbabwe given our comatose economy, lobola has effectively confined many young people to “celibacy” and is to some extent cannot be divorced from the prevalence of the lone parent family in Zimbabwe. This article seeks to provoke and or add to the discourse on the necessity of lobola in this day and age.
It is the parents’ duty and responsibility to raise their child, they cannot raise their child anticipating to be paid back for doing what every responsible parent should be proud of doing. In Zimbabwe, there is a worrying trend where the lobola price is determined by the level of education of the lady in question or generally how “successful” she is.
Parents feel they need to be paid back for their investments in their daughter’s life… something that they are duty-bound to do as parents. The idea, that lobola price is subject to the education or lack thereof of the daughter shows how this lobola thing is nothing but an abdication of parental responsibility.
In light of the parents’ abdication of their responsibility, the state should, therefore, ensure that it takes it upon itself to provide for children because parents are inadvertently admitting to not being able to raise their children on their own.
Providing for their children has clearly proven to be an expense as witnessed by the astronomical lobola prices prevailing in Zimbabwe. The state thus has to take over this “burden.” you can’t punish an innocent boy for wanting to marry into your family, in this regard, I feel the state should take over because the parents do not want to perform their duties and this state intervention will lead to the dying away of this extortionist tradition.
I could go on to the issue of cows and the various categories of lobola like makandinzwanani, mombe yeumai, rusambo, damages etc to prove that this is a practice that no longer fits in this day and age. Doing away with lobola has nothing to do with westernization as some would want to believe, it is necessitated by the times we find ourselves in as a people.
Our ancestors used to kill children with albinism but time caught up with that evil tradition. The time for lobola has also come. Resistance comes at the cost of the occurrence and prevalence of gender-based violence and the widening of gender inequalities, not to mention the commodification of women in our society.
The question is are we as a society going to continue putting up resistance to the demands of time and at what cost? If we are serious about ending gender-based violence, gender inequalities etc then lobola is one of those practices that we have to do away with.
@Marimerodwell on Twitter
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